Calling Singletons - don your clogs and dance

Singleton Cloggers,who are looking for new members to join their traditional dance group. Members practice in Singleton village hall.
Singleton Cloggers,who are looking for new members to join their traditional dance group. Members practice in Singleton village hall.
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Apres-clog. Admittedly it doesn’t have the glamour of the apres ski set but if you fancy going off piste and keeping fit while having fun - sign up with Singleton Cloggers.

The lads and lasses are out to spread the allure of apres-clog and all that goes before at special workshops this month.

The band was set up in 1949 leading the Singleton Gala procession. That’s the year De Havilland’s ill fated Comet first commercial passenger jet airliner made its test flight. And Mao Tse Tung proclaimed the Communist People’s Republic of China. And George Orwell wrote 1984 - and Perry Como sang You’re Adorable.

The rest, as they say, is history.

But do we still need them now they’re 64?

Elaine Skinner, “squire” of Singleton Cloggers, reckons so. Naming her Squire, as in the leader, is just one of the traditions, incidentally. She joined up in 1999, for the 50th anniversary.

Old Lancashire customs die hard and too many have vanished into the mists of time.

But Singleton Cloggers are out to kickstart a brave new future rather than beat the retreat.

More than six decades on they keep the music and dance tradition thriving with a spirited range of activities and a high profile at various events.

Officially they’re classed a North West Clog Morris team.

“Essentially we’re just a group of men and women keeping tradition alive and having fun while entertaining people,” says Elaine.

As members of the Morris Federation, an organisation occasionally mistaken for a classic car club. dancers and musicians unite umpteen variations on a theme of English folk dance.

The group is still going strong. There was a blip in the mid-60s when the team disbanded but there was a lot going on in the world at that time, plenty of distractions.

Come the 70s come the heroine ... local resident Marjorie Ward getting a new look team together, again to lead the village gala and visit other fetes and occasions.

This time it was for keeps. The reputation grew, costumes came and went, along with members, and music, but the clogs stayed the same.

Elaine explains: “And now we’re wondering whether anyone else would like to take a walk on the wild side -and try something a little bit different?

“We are fast approaching our 65th year of dancing - the team that is, not individual members - and would love to attract some more members to join us ahead of our very special anniversary.

“You will be made most welcome.

“No experience is needed. We can teach you all you need to know. We’re always on the look out for musicians too, so if you play an instrument, why not come along?”

Singleton Cloggers meet in Singleton Village Hall every Monday night but are also running taster sessions on November 18th and 25 from 7.30 to 9.30 (coinciding with the usual meeting but with the emphasis on making newcomers welcome).

Elaine adds: “From its simple origins of just dancing at Singleton, Weeton and Poulton galas the team has developed into a social group who still dance mostly locally but have been known to venture further afield; as far as the Isle of Man, Cockermouth, Durham, Oxford and numerous places in between. “

The long tradition of the group also means members perform some dancers unique to the team and the Singleton tradition.

They tend to be named after places in and around Singleton, Todderstaffe, Kennelwood, Upstreets and Singleton itself, or after past members, such as Monica Lee and Angie Barker.

“We also keep alive those dances from Poulton-le-Fylde and Fleetwood first performed over 100 years ago to name but a few.”

As a mixed team they need men and women to sample clog dancing the Singleton. The performance season usually runs from May to September.

“But you must never forget the apres-clog,” adds Eileen. Right you are, squire.

“We’re down to a core of 15 to 20. The age range from 15 to 65 - so there’s a good span. It’s a good leveller.

“We have two styles of step, a skipping and a ranting step, which is like a polka step.

“That can take a little while to master, others can take weeks, even months. Really you just so many skips across, so many down, turn in or out, so it’s not terrifically hard but you have to remember whether it’s a star figure, cast out or in, but we call them as we are going.”

Among the dances is a simple one, Blackrod.

“We have a chorus, four sticks up, four sticks down, then repeat. The figure is called crossover, skip from one side to the other, then back again. Then the chorus. Then diagonals, skip across diagonally in a pair, then the other pair skip diagonally across,and a chorus again.

“It’s a great processional dance. It’s very simple. We have taught it to children and the Women’s Institute for what they call Dabble Day - it was a hoot.”

If you want to catch the team in action but don’t fancy having a go yourself they will be out and about for Lancashire Day events.

“We have two evenings out for Lancashire Day, one at Fleetwood Library, on November 26, the other at Strawberry Gardens, also Fleetwood, on Lancashire Day, November 27.”

* For further details please contact The Squire@singletoncloggers.co.uk or call Eileen Skinner on (01253) 301483. You can also follow them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Singleton.Cloggers, visit their website on http://singletoncloggers.yolasite.com or Flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/singletoncloggers