This is Part 3 of my story of last weekend’s rally held by Sherwood Chapter of the Harley Owners’ Group. Predictably enough, the tale starts with Part 1, and continues via Part 2 to where we left off on Saturday afternoon.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned that the weather across the weekend was very kind to us and that Saturday was warm and dry. During the afternoon and evening, the clouds cleared to leave a beautiful evening. After Friday night’s experience of high temperatures in the function room, a few of us discussed the possibility of bringing the disco and band outside. We looked at a few possibilities, including moving a marquee, but none of the initial ideas were really suitable as it would have meant setting up equipment on very uneven surfaces. However, once we had looked at the patio area just outside the function room, it didn’t take long to see that there was plenty of room for both the band and the disco.
At this point, the band had yet to arrive, but all the disco gear was still set up inside the function room. I made a few noises about needing some “humpers” to help us move it and eventually Chapter Director Pete Clifford and Magazine Editor and Webmaster Dai Gunter turned up and helped to move the picnic tables that were in the music space and to carry the equipment that Sue and I had already de-rigged outside where I then spent the next hour re-rigging it. During this time the band turned up and set up their own equipment.
The band booked for Saturday night were “The Crew“. Although I had never seen them, they came very highly recommended by a friend of mine who had worked with them on another outdoor gig a couple of weeks previously. From the moment that they arrived, it was clear that they are bunch of consummate professionals who simply got on with setting up their own equipment in a well-organised, calm and efficient way. Well before 8pm, I was able to start the disco after checking that they did not need or want to do a full band soundcheck.
In itself, this was unusual. Most bands will spend ages tinkering with their sound (the longest soundcheck I can remember was over two hours), but the crew obviously know their equipment inside out and after a short time tuning the saxophone, they left me to and the crowd to our own devices for the first hour.
There was a “human moment” during the band’s set-up period when one of them said to me that he was a bit worried that the person who had booked them might have made a mistake because they aren’t a rock band, but a sixties one. I was able to reassure them that they were exactly right for the crowd and this turned out to be exactly the case. As soon as they started their set, after a brilliant intro featuring some classic Radio Luxembourg jingles from the 208 days, the dance floor was packed all evening.
The atmosphere during the whole evening was buzzing. The previous night had been OK, but it just could not compare to Saturday night at Sherwood 9. Part of the improvementwas due to the move outside, but in no small part, was also due to the band who completely lived up to my first impressions. At one point while they were on stage, I was chatting to someone who asked me if the disco was running on automatic. It was an understandable mistake because their sound was uncannily like that on the original versions of those sixties classics.
One of the features of Saturday night at the recent Sherwood Chapter rallies that I have attended has been that the committee members dress up in “Robin Hood” fancy dress. This year, the Medieval theme was publicised with the rally information and it seemed that quite a lot of other people also made a real effort to dress up as well.
However, the way that this was organised on the night itself left me feeling just a little upset. Sue had spent an amazing amount of time and effort making costumes for both of us, but because of the equipment move and re-rig, we had no time to go and get changed before the night started. Sue and I spoke about this and agreed that we would dash back to our cabin while the band were playing their first set and that we would then be ready for the fancy dress parade. I had even found some authentic medieval music to play during the fancy dress parade.
Imagine how I felt when, ten minutes before the band were due to come on, while I was totally tied up with the disco, to be told “we’ll do the fancy dress parade now.” Sue tried to get them to delay the parade, but no chance. I was close to walking away at that moment, but gritted my teeth and played the medieval music while our own costumes languished in the cabin.
Once the band started, Sue and I were able to slip away and change, although it did hurt that we were excluded from joining in with the parade. Later that evening, we asked Snake’s Pix, who were the official rally photographers, to take this picture of us together.
In between the band’s two sets, there was the raffle and presentation of the bike show prizes before the now traditional and most spectacular, Sherwood rally fireworks.
After the band finishes, the final disco set can be a bit of an anti-climax, but the atmosphere didn’t let up at all. At one point I was playing classic dance tracks from the “Euphoria” CDs to an enthusiastic crowd who carried on dancing even after I faded Abba’s “Super Trouper” up underneath the dance beats. It was a crazy kind of night that would be hard to replicate. It must have been after 1am that word came through that we had had a complaint about the noise from Ancaster village, so I turned part of my sound system off and reduced the bass level. Even this did nothing to dampen the atmosphere which lasted right up until I ended the evening at just after 2am.
On Saturday night at Sherwood 9, all the various elements came together to make it one of the best nights I have had in quite a long time. However, we got back to the cabin, still in fancy dress with no pockets and therefore no keys for the cabin. I felt terrible that Sue had to wake one of the people sharing the cabin with us to let us in. Profuse apologies were offered and I want to repeat them here. Sorry Margaret!
Sunday morning dawned with the rumble of the early departures heading for home. I woke up and after a quick cup of tea, headed across to the pile of disco equipment that we had piled just inside the function room door at the end of the previous night. I packed the remaining bits away and loaded the car before heading back to the cabin for breakfast. By this time Sue (and the other residents of the cabin were all up and busy clearing up.)
Once we had packed our clothes and other bits and pieces, we went across to the central rally area where most of the trade stands were still doing some fairly brisk last-minute business. While I wandered around looking at shiny chrome bits, Sue chatted to the man on the Auto-Proud stall. She asked him about the melted boot sole that was persistently refusing to be removed from the pipes on our Heritage Softail. He immediately came up with the solution and a few minutes later demonstrated his Restoration Polish which, in about 15 seconds removed some of the stubborn rubber that I had already spent more than an hour failing to shift. We immediately parted with the cash to equip ourselves with a pack containing this wonder fluid as well as Polymer Polish and Screen and Visor cleaner.
I have yet to use these products on a thorough bike clean, but when I do (at the weekend, I hope), I’ll try to report back on them, but my initial impression is very favourable.
We had booked in for Sunday lunch at the Woodland Waters restaurant and enjoyed a carvery in the company of a couple who had shared our cabin all weekend, “Wingco” Dave and Sally, before getting kitted up and heading for home. Just at that moment, the rain that had held off all weekend finally arrived, but it didn’t matter – that’s why we have waterproofs.
Final thoughts – a good, enjoyable weekend overall. I probably take on too much work, which mucked up our involvement in the ride-out as well as in the fancy dress parade, but I think Sue will agree that I’m not likely to change that part of me.
Next year the chapter is already talking about doing something special, but I’m not allowed to tell you about it yet.