Broadstairs – satnav didn’t recognise new road layout on outskirts (apparently we were in the middle of a field) but we followed our noses through the sad clonetown factory outlet maze to get to the heart of Broadstairs. Quick and efficient tent set up, school playing field like rock hence much peg bashing. Time for a cuppa – proper china mugs, none of this enamel or plastic mug nonsense. Distant strains of squeezeboxes and folk singing from all corners of the field. I am here with Jim, whose band the Cajun Dawgs, are playing tonight as part of the Broadstairs Folk Week programme.
Mini bus arrives to collect band members (only 2 as one already in the town, one bizarrely in Maidstone on route) and band gear and me, crawls through swarms of people ambling in roads. Glimpses of jumping hanky-wavers down side streets. Much sun, laughter and noise, snatches of music from every pub doorway. Lug band gear through crowds, leave band to set up as I wander off to explore. Find a knitting ‘nanna’ stall and buy a knitted phone case I shall probably never use. More knitted items on other stalls – yarn bombing has rekindled the craft, maybe? – I buy a knitted flower brooch to cover up the chocolate milk stain on my blouse. Note: Do not drink chocolate milk shake from those plastic bottles that have an inverted lip on the top whilst travelling round a roundabout.
Broadstairs is lovely – I’ve only ever been here twice and both times for Folk Week so it’s been sunny and full of happy people, mainly families and folkies. The beach is sandy, there are lots of independent shops up narrow hilly pathways and streets, fish and chips, numerous pubs and it has one of those good old fashioned ironmongers that would probably sell anything from a single nail to a tin bath or a 1000 piece picture puzzle and a mobile ‘phone charger.
Showtime. The hall is full with people who have paid to see the band and they are getting their money’s worth by dancing from the very first number. It’s infectious – I wander round and find someone to dance with. Cajun dancing starts with a kind of ballroom hold and is very easy – most of the time you can get away with a simple two step or a one step waltz. My favourite is a zydeco dance which seems very complicated if you try and count out the 8 steps, but actually comes down to swaying sideways a few times then suddenly stepping back from your partner and pulling eachother back by one hand. It’s a great night, I dance a lot without my back seizing up, wander round the hall with the camera both to take shots and to give me an excuse to wander round on my own, spend an extortionate amount on 2 drinks and smile a lot.
The gig is over and the streets have been closed to traffic. It’s like the tarmac had been replaced by a solid mass of people. We wait a long time for the minibus to return – it has come via the beach and has to now slowly reverse back through the throng. Back at the site Jim has an egg banjo – fried egg sandwich to those who don’t know better – and we drink red wine out of the china mugs. Four hours later we are woken by the pre-dawn chorus of a million screaming seagulls stamping on tents and caravans and ripping apart anything carelessly left in the open.