Friday, 11 December 2015

Our AGM and lindy hop bop - 14th November 2015

Ahem... slight problem, I just sat down to write about our 2015 AGM, and then remembered I didn't actually attend that part of the meeting! Report possibly to come later if I can rope someone in to do that... I did arrive in time for our workshop of the day, so I'll say a little something about that.

Is there a better way to follow a marathon and very talky sit-down meeting than dancing? Joyce and Andrew from Swing Jive Leeds joined us after our lunch stop and got the party started. The pair began with a little talk through the origins of lindy hop, which was fascinating. It was the first partner dance to evolve in the more modern, 'free' style. It appeared in Harlem in the late 1920s, evolving from the Charleston and the Swing Jazz music scene of the time. The dance was wildly popular until around the time of World War II, and then declined (pretty much disappeared in fact), until something in the zeitgeist caused some different groups of dancers in Britain, Sweden and America to all become interested in lindy hop around the same time in the 1980s. The dance was all the rage again, and some of the earliest old-time lindy hoppers were even coaxed out of retirement in New York, with some travelling the world teaching the joys of their re-discovered dance.

Joyce and Andrew then performed some lindy hop for us, giving us a better idea of the improvised nature of the dance. Essentially, there is a 'leader' and a 'follower', and yes there are certain steps (with what looks like a lot of room for inventive add-ons!) but the dancers simply go with the flow, the follower's job being to take cues from the leader and fall in line with their steps. Scary! Luckily for us first-timers, we weren't expected to get to this improv level of slickness at our first attempt, and Joyce and Andrew patiently taught us a little dance routine, doled out to us one step at a time. We all chose to either be a leader or a follower, and once you'd made your choice you stuck with it. The leaders stayed in their positions around the room, and the followers rotated around the circle, swapping from dance partner to partner. (Probably giving something of a clumsy music box effect to the observer ;-) obviously we all imagined we looked the epitome of grace!)

The workshop was enormous fun, and I really can't say enough good things about what a joyful dance lindy hop is, and what brilliant, patient teachers the guys from Swing Jive Leeds were. Thank you very much to Joyce and Andrew. It was a blast.

Update on the Thread of Life project and exhibition

Our member Trish Knowles has taken part in an art project commissioned by the artist, Sharon Mossbeck. Trish has produced a cross-stitched piece for the Thread of Life exhibition which has recently been displayed in the Bank Street Arts gallery in Sheffield. Trish and her family visited to see the display, and she reports back here...

"It is very effective with no 2 pieces alike. Some stand out particularly, especially if they have been worked on a dark background. I was pleased that mine was not lost amongst all the others which I thought could happen. It will be interesting to see the display in its entirety when it is staged next spring. If it is put in one of the exhibition rooms, it could look stunning as it wouldn’t be lost in a vast expanse of blank wall."

Our meeting on October 10th - cheesy, boozy fun!

Sarah reports from our annual cheese and booze fest... (always the best attended meeting, I wonder why?!)

It’s tough work but somebody has to do it. The email sent out before this month’s wine and cheese tasting ‘workshop’ advised , “I’m not going to be driving and I would recommend that if possible you walk, get the bus or a taxi, so you can enjoy each of the wines on offer.”

That we are prepared to trudge through the remote corners of Moortown in all weathers, gives an indication of just how dedicated we are to becoming wine connoisseurs.

After lunch and the meeting (not at all rushed, nooooo), we kicked into action under the expert guidance of Helen from Majestic Wines and Steven from George & Joseph Cheesemongers, Chapel Allerton. Given that Helen hadn’t tasted the majority of the cheeses or Steven the majority of the wines, the fact that each one perfectly accompanied the other, shows the level of expertise involved.

The first cheese we tried was Yorkshire Brie. Not a lot of people know that Yorkshire Brie exists. It not only exists, but it’s great. Not as runny as French brie but fresh tasting and mild. Teamed with Paul Mas Chardonnay from France, it was very moreish.

Next on the menu was smoked goats cheese paired with some Martinborough Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Goats cheese is something I usually find unpalatably (and unsurprisingly) ‘goaty’, but this was mild and subtle and clean tasting.

Lavender Ewes milk cheese sounded intriguing. No, it’s not from a sheep with a lilac rinse, but cheese rolled in lavender flowers. It’s easy to imagine this might taste like cheese potpourri , but the lavender infused the cheese very gently so that it tasted like eating a warm summer’s day. It was teamed perfectly with Luis Felipe Edwards Signature Series Syrah, from Chile.

Harrogate Blue was a hit with all the blue cheese fans and went down nicely with Cousino Macul Cabernet Sauvignon, again from Chile.

Dale End Cheddar was on the mild side and again, very clean and fresh tasting. Nothing like the supermarket offerings at all. Some Definition Malbec from Argentina was very enjoyable and made for a happy match.

We finished off with some Royal Takaji Late Harvest with a chunk of Richard III Wensleydale. Old Richard Crookback would probably have felt less murderous and more chilled out if he’d had access to a few wheels of this yummy stuff and a crate of Royal Takaji to wash it down with.

It’s not hard to see why the cheese and wine tasting has rapidly turned into an annual event. Huge thanks to Helen and Steven for a scrumptious and informative, if increasingly hazy, afternoon.

Happy birthday Maureen!