Not sure if you want to take the plunge into the dizzying world of the University’s 200+ societies? Don’t know your Blowsoc from your Bladesoc? The Socumentaries team endeavours to sample as many societies as possible so you don’t have to.

Soc-umentary – A factual article about a society, presenting the facts with little or no fiction. As in, ‘Did you see that socumentary about Fashion? That shit cray.

Traditional folk music tickles my pickle. I’m not too big on the ethereal elf-like female singers or anything overly American (sorry Bob Dylan), but there’s so much to enjoy in the contemporary British folk scene. There are eccentric old men with hilarious beards; there’s foot stomping old songs about bedding fair maidens – there’s an endless supply of damn good beer. What’s not to love? It isn’t just about gigs though – one of the more fun aspects of our folk culture is having a good old fashioned ceilidh, or as you may call them, a barndance.

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All you need for a ceilidh is a band, someone to shout out the steps, and as many people as you can fit into a big room. It’s not really important whether you can dance – a helpful stranger will usually hurl you the right way if you get confused and jig in the wrong direction. I love ceilidhs to bits, so I eagerly popped along with Folk Soc the last time they attended one.

The room was awash with smiling, grey haired pensioners, with a few pre-teens zipping around like bumble bees. Not the best start.

It was organised by a local church, raising money for a special needs school. We were very much the minority – five of Folk Soc were in attendance, and there were already many dozens of people stuffed into the church hall when we arrived. The demographics weren’t ideal – it felt a bit like the scene before the Battle of Helms Deep in the LOTR: The Two Towers where Gimli and Legolas remark “Most have seen too many winters, or too few.” The room was awash with smiling, grey haired pensioners, with a few pre-teens zipping around like bumble bees. Not the best start.

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Ceilidhs traditionally served as a societally acceptable way for randy youths to touch each other’s bodies. Back in the day, if you wanted to initiate a romp with the voluptuous baker’s daughter from down the street, things were a little trickier than now. You couldn’t just send her a snapchat of your crotch – you had to invite her to a ceilidh and dazzle her with your jigging skills first. There was none of that this night obviously, but no matter – ceilidhs are always great fun, whomever you’re doing it with.

Ceilidhs traditionally served as a societally acceptable way for randy youths to touch each other’s bodies.

The first dance we did was a slow one, to make allowances for any hip replacements in the room. The band kept the pace down, but it soon descended into a total mess regardless. It didn’t really matter; everyone was having too much fun. There were a couple of obligatory hardcore folky women present (there always are) expertly enacting the steps, but most of us just made up for a lack of skill with good-natured enthusiasm.

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Halfway through the night we were presented with ‘dinner’. We queued up patiently for ten minutes, before being presented with a lukewarm pasty and a sizeable dollop of mushy peas. It was magnificently naff – like something a run-down chippy in Wigan might serve. With our bellies full of stodge, we hit the floor once more, and swiftly danced the night away. After what felt like no time at all, the ceilidh was over and we headed home in a couple of taxis.

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Folk Soc is a perfect example of the joys of traditional English culture – it’s not all wooly jumpers and badly tuned guitar, our heritage is both vibrant, and a hell of a lot of fun. Even if you’ve never experienced anything remotely folky before, make sure you have a crack at a ceilidh if you get the chance. They have the magical ability to turn even the biggest cynic into a grinning moron in moments. As a country of miserable twats, isn’t that something we need more of?

Will Hazell

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