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Morris Dancing.

(32 Posts)
crimson Thu 31-May-12 22:31:25

Is anyone else terribly fond of Morris Dancing? We did it at primary school and I've loved it ever since. Going to Southwell to see the dancing in the town on Saturday morning [part of their folk festival] and then hoping to see the Gate to Southwell procession later in June where they dance from the centre of Nottingham to Southwell. I love all these old festivities such as the Straw Bear one. Wondered if any gransnetters have any local traditional events worth going to.

nanaej Thu 31-May-12 22:39:08

We have regular town days (think they are newly devised to keep shoppers local) & a local troupe of Morris Dancers are always around!

tanith Thu 31-May-12 22:48:44

I like Morris dancing although I've never actually seen it in the flesh , so to speak.. I'm going to look out and see if I can find any festivals I could go and see it live.. maybe when I'm in Devon in June..

merlotgran Thu 31-May-12 23:31:54

Molly dancing is traditional in the Fens. It's like Morris dancing but with blacked up faces and a bit more violent. On Plough Monday in early January they tour the local pubs and dance for food and (plenty of) drink. Originally, they danced for money and took revenge on landowners who didn't give them any. They blacked their faces in case they needed a job from the farmer whose cows they'd just let out of the field.

Ariadne Fri 01-Jun-12 06:32:15

In Rochester, they have the annual Sweep's Festival in May, and part of that is when the Green Man leads a lot (hundred perhaps- any Kentish Maids or Maids of Kent know?) down the High Street. You can here them coming before you see them. I love it!

nelliedeane Fri 01-Jun-12 06:58:22

I can never work out. Which one is Morris grin

susiecb Fri 01-Jun-12 09:19:36

I LOVE LOVE Morris dancing but only by men in white with flowers round their hats and bells on their legs- cheers me up no end!

Daisyanswerdo Fri 01-Jun-12 12:42:46

Yes, I love Morris, and folk music and dance in general. I'm doing my best to play for a local Morris side; playing by ear and from memory is a new skill for me. Am I right in saying that Morris and other folk traditions are poorly represented in the Olympic displays?

crimson Fri 01-Jun-12 12:50:09

I saw some of the black faced dancers on a programme about clog dancing, and am hoping they'll have some at Southwell. Of course, in my hippy youth I followed the 'obby horse round Padstow smile.

Ariadne Fri 01-Jun-12 14:12:10

There is one group called "The Wild Women of Kent" and they are fantastic!

Ariadne Fri 01-Jun-12 14:14:26

Cont'd - some great pictures of them here:

goldengirl Fri 01-Jun-12 16:43:05

I enjoy watching Morris Dancers but I find the blacked up ones a little scary.

petallus Fri 01-Jun-12 17:18:52

I love Morris dancing (with men). Ever since I heard that it is a fertility dance I started to find it quite erotic; all that athletic leaping, muscley thighs etc.

crimson Fri 01-Jun-12 18:01:55

I never had any desire to dance until my knees gave out and now I want to. I want to be a 'Wild Woman of Kent' sad! However, I can't remember even the simplest sequence, so it's a good job I can't, I guess. But it's all so gloriously pagan....

merlotgran Fri 01-Jun-12 20:15:50

We also go wassailing every January as we have a small orchard and once we have made all the chutney we can store and frozen apple pulp for pies etc., we send our surplus fruit to our local cider maker. It's a good bartering ploy because we get free flagons of cider and perry at Christmas as well as an invitation to dance around his apple trees, tie lumps of toast (dipped in cider) to the branches to increase the fertility for the coming year. Much cider and perry is consumed by all!

crimson Fri 01-Jun-12 21:33:14

Oh that's so Thomas Hardy'ish.....

merlotgran Sat 02-Jun-12 16:43:24

crimson. Goodness knows what would happen if the 'elf &safety' police got hold of it. They'd probably have officials wearing high viz jackets sticking the toast on the trees while the rest of us watch from behind a barricade and shout BANG instead of blasting shotguns into the branches to ward off evil spirits.

crimson Sat 02-Jun-12 20:19:21

Yes; I did nearly get poked in the eye by several sticks today and had to retire to the The Saracens Head for safety [didn't do Charles I much good; it's where he was caught and arrested]. It were grand today and, I have to say, I felt far more patriotic than I shall do tomorrow. There were lots of black faced Morrismen, some lady clog dancers, The Raving Maes who carried broom sticks and wore red lace up corsets [it was very burlesque], sword dancers and a group of goth morrismen all dressed in black and white [they were very theatrical]. Southwell was bedecked with bunting, and the groups danced outside all of the pubs [of which there are many] in turn. I think tonight they've got men who dress like foxes and dance with lighted flames! Folk music playing in a lot of the pubs as well as the festival itself. In a different way it reminded me of the riding out ceremonies that we go to whenever we can up in the Border Country.

crossstitchgill Tue 05-Jun-12 23:35:08

I am a North West Clog morris dancer. We perform dances mainly from the cotton mill towns of the north west of England. I have been doing this for over 20 years now - not that it means I am any good at it! Our group are based in East Herts and often struggle to get new members. My husband is also a member of the group and he also does Cotswold morris (dressed in white with hankies, bells and sticks) and in the winter he does Molly dancing as well. Last weekend the Cotswold team went on their annual visit to somewhere in Europe - this time to Lake Wolfgang in Austria - and were very well received. I have met a lot of interesting (and sometimes strange!) people through the dancing and have been to several festivals over the years. Our group are due to perform at Ely and Leigh-on-Sea folk festivals this year.

crimson Wed 06-Jun-12 10:33:12

Oh drat, and there's me still wanting to go to Ely, and I could have aimed at Folk Festival week[ what are the dates? maybe I'll pencil it in for next year]. Did you see/take part in the Unthanks programme for BBC4 about clog dancing? My favourites are The Witchmen, possibly because they seem to use music often played by one of my favourite folk groups, Bolwzabella, and I love the tribal rhythms they produce, using bodrum drums and suchlike. I only recently realised that there was so much Morris Dancing at folk festivals, I guess I thought it was just, well, people singing! I envy you doing it and wish I'd done things like that before the knees started to crumble! Young people are very silly, wanting to be appear so cool all the time when they could be having such fun. Someone I know used be in one of those battle re enactment groups, and he has travelled all over the world and appeared in several films. Give my love to Ely, and watch out for The Witchmen [especially after dark].....they are very pagan!

merlotgran Wed 06-Jun-12 11:07:19

Ely Folk Festival is 13/15th July, crimson and I think The Witchmen are appearing. I'm reduced to tapping my foot these days as my knees are not fit for purpose. The only clog dancer we know tends to turn up at small events, chuck a board on the ground and hop up and down completely out of time. He gets a huge round of applause and shouts of, 'more' because we're all helpless with laughter. I didn't see the Unthanks programme but I might have a browse around on here and see if I can find it on You Tube.

crossstitchgill Wed 06-Jun-12 11:18:11

I love the Witchmen! I saw them for the first time at Rochester Sweeps Festival many years ago and I am looking forward to seeing them at Ely. Maybe they will be in the same group as us. We are called Fiddlers Brook Morris (we have a website) and are supposed to be mixed but now only have 1 or 2 men dancers depending on whether my husband has to be a musician. I did see the Unthanks' programme and have visited some of the places featured. I think it is a shame that Morris dancing tends to be mocked in this country. When the Cotswold side has danced all over Europe they have drawn crowds and had endless photo calls from the audience. It is definitely not namby-pamby as some people seem to think! It can be very hard work and not good for the knees. Several people have had to give up because of that.

crimson Wed 06-Jun-12 11:28:26

I have a wonderful photo of my daughter [the one that isn't talking to me sad] sat on the lap of our [at the time] vet who was in the Ripley Morris Dancers. With the whole troupe [is that the word?] behind them raising their pints of beer. There's a fantastic clip on utube of the Witchmen dressed as 'Dead Sailors'; supposedly one of their 'party pieces'. I don't know how they can dance all day wearing such heavy costumes, or consume quite so much beer whilst doing it! Their band consists almost entirely of women.We're going to the start of 'The Gate to Southwell' in a couple of weeks, and will then probably go to the end; as it finishes at The Minster I don't think the pagan lot will be involved. I'll check your website out now.

Joan Wed 06-Jun-12 11:33:25

I remember a cartoon in 'The Dalesman' a few years ago. It showed a man getting ready in his Morris Dancing uniform, and his little lad pointing at his wrinkled leggings, as the Mum says "Not a word about Norah Battye, sithee"

(you have to have watched 'Last of the Summer Wine' to get it I suppose.)

Grannylin Wed 06-Jun-12 19:01:46

crossstitchgill That's so true.My sister used to clog dance in and around the Lake District (with others I might add!) until the wear and tear took its toll and she had to have a hip replacement in her fifties