We played our first proper Fez Noz with Wod on Saturday, in the delightful venue of North Wootton village hall down in Somerset, a stone's throw from the Glastonbury festival site. (Many thanks to Sonny for organizing it and playing an exquisite set, Ruth and Kalindi for feeding us with fine curry, Rob for providing lamps and greenery, and Mike and Jane for putting us up afterwards.)
It's always a bit nerve-wracking unleashing a new project: will people come? will they like our tunes? will our tunes work for the dances? and so on and so forth. We needn't have worried, for not long into the first set things started cooking, with whoops of delight from a crowded dance floor.
I suppose our approach to the music is quite uncompromising, in that we think we're there to serve the dance not the dancers. That means we play tunes for a long time (one or two weary looks from the floor suggested not everyone is with us on this). I'm told our Rond de St Vincent went on for nearly 25 minutes. That's one three part tune played over and over for a repetitive stepping dance.
You can feel when the dancers begin to tire - the whole thing begins to wobble a bit - but if you carry on and keep pushing something rather wonderful happens. New energy bubbles up. The dance begins to carry the dancers. They swing with more vigour. Their steps are lighter. The ground loosens its grip.
In rehearsals we jokingly say 'Ah, the Wod was with us' when it's gone well, as if the Wod were some horned thing from ancient times, all bushes and briars and made of hedge. But there's a truth behind the jest. As in Irish mythology, where the heroes of old would start to shudder and shake into warp-spasm before battle, so, when the Wod comes, things get blurry round the edges. We start to play riffs and rivulets we could not imagine. As Jim puts it, we break through the meniscus.
We ended the set with a suite of Hanter Dros played acoustically on the floor. A tight huddle of dancers circled round us, dodging drones and Jane's bow to push us, it, to an exquisite level of intensity. An extraordinary night.