Veni, vidi, Wodi

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.


  1. Whoop whoop!
    I'm seeing the Wod-creature alright ;)

  2. I think you should definitely have a chat with Mr de Sousa... Just had a very interesting conversation with Polly about using dance as a means to stay with and deepen experience, until that point where fatigue forces a dropping of the final veil. I think this equates to the breaking through of the meniscus that Jim's talking about; and it's so different to using dance as a route to catharsis, which is based on the concept of there being feelings or aspects of our experience that we need to discharge, unburden ourselves of. As I see it, the Wod take on trance is very different to what a lot of rave music is aiming for - it's not about energy being released upwards in some kind of faux-spiritual orgasm; rather it's about the musicians acting as real taskmasters, pushing the dancers into ever deeper connection with the earth (which is, as Rilke and many others would argue, the only true route into authentic spiritual experience). The end point is much more about surrender and dissolution than release and catharsis. Love that line about your commitment being to the dance, not the dancers - spot (or Wod) on!



Featured post

Shroom: ten years on

I find it hard to believe but it's exactly ten years since my book Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom was published. Thou...

Popular Posts

Twitter Updates