View Full Version : Is the end of Morris Dancing nigh?

Richard Taylor
5th Jan 2009, 18:13
Seems the age of participants is rising, whilst the numbers of new dancers is falling, youngsters fear embarrassment it appears.

The remaining troupes fear that it could be consigned to history in around 20yrs without steps to address the problem.

Sign of the times, or can this Olde English Tradition be saved?

Personally cannot fathom out the prancing about with handkerchiefs, hats, ribbons & sticks, around a maypole? But it started somewhere. There must have been a reason for it starting all those centuries ago.


A A Gruntpuddock
5th Jan 2009, 18:17
Only saw it once and it was embarrassing!

Reminds me of the joke -

Why do Morris Dancers wear bells?

So they can annoy blind people as well!

5th Jan 2009, 18:39
Ah! if only it was more like Scottish Country Dancing, eh?

5th Jan 2009, 19:11
I was always told that it was harmless form of group exercise intended to increase the appetite for beer, without putting on weight.

5th Jan 2009, 19:35
Where did you hear that, Richard?

There are many types of traditional folk dancing of which Morris is just one. Some forms are alive and well such as Rapper (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=iNOMqGgzN7g) and Molly (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=lHeStUUT-qU&feature=PlayList&p=05A669313AE64D6A&index=37). They seem to attract a young crowd and certainly have to be fit (especially rappers - check out the vid at about one minute twenty)

More rural areas of the UK still seem to have thriving folk dance clubs (plenty around Norfolk, Oxfordshire e.g.)

One issue though and I'm sure it's the case with many clubs and societies) is the old stalwarts who don't like change versus the young guns who want to modernize, hence older dance sides will fizzle out to be replace by younger ones.



Love like no-one's watching and dance like you've never been hurt
That makes sense to Morris Dancers :ouch:

5th Jan 2009, 19:35
Is the end nigh? One can but hope.

Lon More
5th Jan 2009, 19:36
Why are there no Jewish Morris dancers?

You have to be a complete prick to be a Morris Dancer.

As usual, Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris_dance) has the answers Mr. Taylor

Richard Taylor
5th Jan 2009, 20:01
True Lon, I could Wiki but it's more fun on here! :} Mind you, I don't believe everything I read on Wiki, as apparently it can be, erm, edited! :E

Whirls, t'was a report on BBC webpage that caught my eye.

I find it sad personally that traditions may be slowly dying out in this country, whether it's Morris Dancing (however it may be perceived) or a good old fashioned Ceilidh.

Perhaps though some are so strange that they should be allowed to die...like playing football in the street...or even in a playing field! :rolleyes:

Brewster Buffalo
5th Jan 2009, 20:03
The remaining troupes fear that it could be consigned to history in around 20yrs without steps to address the problem.

Isn't this the cue for Gordon Brown use another £1bn to revive the economy by sending thousands of the unemployed on morris dancing courses..

5th Jan 2009, 20:05
I once heard it described by a friend as lying somewhere on the scale between bowls and euthanasia.
The Ancient Mariner

Or was that PROBUS?

tony draper
5th Jan 2009, 20:11
Sword Dancing and Clog Dancing were he big thing up here, yer Morris stuff was an effete Southern style,waving a sword round yer noggin was a bit more macho in keeping with us rough Northern chaps.

5th Jan 2009, 20:15
The traditions all but died out in the 50s and 60s but started to gain popularity in latter years. I play in a ceilidh band and we get enough bookings to keep us off the streets playing football - we even get paid :ok:

I suspect it was a suburban journalist who didn't know where to look - it's all very underground you know :}



5th Jan 2009, 20:33
Can only be hoped "river dancing" follows the same fate :*

5th Jan 2009, 20:39
Sword Dancing and Clog Dancing were he big thing up here, yer Morris stuff was an effete Southern style,waving a sword round yer noggin was a bit more macho in keeping with us rough Northern chaps.

Ah, Mr.D, Mr.D.....at least we effete Southerners realise that you hard Northern types need to have a handle at each end of the blade so you can't get the sword the wrong way round :D

and possibly :ok:


5th Jan 2009, 20:41
river dancing

Tried it once - almost drowned.

Honestly though - grown men, should be ashamed of themselves. An advertisement for euthanasia if ever I saw one (its been banned in Switzerland don't you know).

tony draper
5th Jan 2009, 20:45
Worry not Mr Ripline when we come South we will show you the right end of our swords.:E

5th Jan 2009, 20:46
.....at least we effete Southerners realise that you hard Northern types need to have a handle at each end of the blade so you can't get the sword the wrong way round

I'd have thought you would have preferred us to have swords with NO handles, then ?

Lon More
5th Jan 2009, 21:32
Looks like it's alive and kicking on the Tardis (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80363Ezsjvc). Is that Whirls on the Wheatstone?

Always thought Morris looked a bit like a girlie version of the eightsome reel:}

5th Jan 2009, 21:34
Belly dancing vs Morris dance-off (http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=KHMmE_igJmk) - every year at the National Folk Festival in Canberra...

If anything the number of Morris dancers seems to increase each year at this particular festival.

What I've always wondered though, is why are Morris dancers ALWAYS there with bells on??

5th Jan 2009, 21:49
The more violence , the better (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=VP3fZp4UM2E)

Well if it is a dying tradition, here may be one reason :ouch:



Lon, not me on the Wheatstone; I play a Gold Tone Irish Tenor banjo for ceilidh and morris :ok:

5th Jan 2009, 22:28
Best advice I ever had as a callow youth: 'Laddie ,you should try everything in life at least once. Except b%ggery and Morris Dancing'.....:\

6th Jan 2009, 08:54
Bampton in the Bush was always awash with Moorish Dancers at Whitsuntide. We villagers couldn't move for the buggers. Its not as if they brought us much trade & custom - the annual Bampton Shirt Race (http://www.bamptonoxon.co.uk/annual_events.htm)brought in more business for the Pubs than those pyjama clad nit-wits with bells on both legs and their strange North African dancing traditions.

One prefers sea shanties and other such rough stuff, myself - and anything with bagpipes that can give an excuse for much whiskey sampling! :ok:

Lon More
6th Jan 2009, 09:32
Nice to see some young people (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf0kCCYaDQs&feature=related) keeping the tradition alive.

Sorry Whirls, somewhere I'd gained the idea that you played squeeze box.
Haven't played anything for years. Picked up a violin the other day and was forced to admit very quickly that it's not like riding a bike.
Still enjoy a quick thump on the bhodran though

6th Jan 2009, 09:58
whirls in response to your link (http:///uk.youtube.com/watch?v=IhJQp-q1Y1s)

6th Jan 2009, 11:10
Candoo's guide to Morris Dancing

1) Do not, under any circumstances, volunteer to join a bunch of fellow rugby players raising money for charity by morris dancing your way around the local pubs on Mayday.

2) After the 6th or 7th pint when it seems a really good wothwhile idea - still do not volunteer.

3) The following morning when you get that flashback that you did volunteeer and training would be starting that night and twice a week for the next 3 months try and get out of it.

4) If committed and no chance of escape buy a pick axe handle, bells, hankies, long socks, elastoplast, frilly shirt, facepaint and a pewter mug (very important this one).

5) Ornately decorate your pick axe handle to make it look a little bit less like a pick axe handle

6) Train hard with your fellow dancers because they will take every opportunity with their pick axe handles to crack open your fingers, wrists, ankles at a moments loss of concentration. Buy more elastoplast.

7) Do not be coerced (after ample use of pewter mug) into attempting ever more complicated dance routines by your trainer as this simply makes you dizzy and look foolish. Buy moe elastoplast.

8) When the day arrives dress to impress - polish shoes and bells, clean hankies, paint face. Dance you heart out and enjoy it!

We did this and raised more than a grand for the local hospice, it was really good fun and is way harder both physically and technically than it looks.

6th Jan 2009, 11:52
Don't get me started on bagpipes. I learned to play in 1991, under a former Black Watch pipe major who'd crank out Pibrochs* just for fun. I did OK, played quite a few ceremonies and tattoos, but eventually gave it up. I don't have the iron lungs or bionic fingers that you need to be a great piper.

I can't think of a more limited, and limiting, musical instrument. One quick anecdote sums up my objections: on one occasion we played with a classical orchestra, and the whole orchestra had to re-tune higher than normal, just to accommodate the pipes. The pipes are only in tune with themselves at a particular non-orchestral frequency. The pipes can only play in one key (or related modes), which severely limits the repertoire.

* Ṕobaireachd (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%ACobaireachd): basically, Pibroch is to normal pipe tunes (marches, jigs, reels etc.) as Classical is to Pop. It's also called Cẹl Ṃr (great music), while the rest is Cẹl Beag (little music). Piping students do not go there, not unless they wish to die horribly at the hands of the Pipe Major, with a chanter inserted where the buses don't run. :ooh:

6th Jan 2009, 11:54
Lon, you're right, I do play the squeezythingy as well as the banjo, mandolin, guitar, clarinet, flute and fool! :ok:

I often think of Pibrochs as pee-breaks! :}



6th Jan 2009, 12:14
as this simply makes you dizzy and look foolish.Erratum.

...as this simply makes you dizzy and look more foolish.

I do play the squeezythingy as well Sing: Mama's got a squeeze box, Poppa gets to play all night.

6th Jan 2009, 12:25
Thats Piobaereachs. My old piping teacher was a Gaelic pedant. :rolleyes:

"That's no a bit o' fly shit laddy, its a D grace, so play the damned thing!"

6th Jan 2009, 12:29
OK I admit it (and I have confessed to this once before in these hallowed portals) - - - I used to Morris dance.

A squadron I was on had a team that used to ensure that we never bought a drink on any detachment anywhere. This was especially true in the good old US of A, where those who had seen us before used to insist that we got the kit on. We didn't really mind or care if they were merely having a laugh at our expense, because - in the long run - it was at their expense, because they just kept buying the beers all night!

So Morris dancing does have a use.


6th Jan 2009, 14:20
OK. If Morris Dancing is about to become defunct I will need a new excuse to go to the local next May Bank Holiday.

Any of you lot going to turn up in bells, silly socks with an accordion player?

Didn't think so. Now what do I tell 't'missus. (Wholi, you are excused this conversation after your earlier conffession).

6th Jan 2009, 16:52
One dark evening in the Transylvanian mountains we were entertained in a cave by a dance group, the chaps were done up exactly as Morris dancers, even to one wearing a deer's head, he was known as "the horny one". They wore bells and the costumes were almost the same colour combination as here. My guess is that Dracula imported his troupe when he landed oop north chez draperville. So the moral of the story is that whilst the north persons pretend not to Morris dance, they introduced it.:}

6th Jan 2009, 17:01
I tried Morris dancing, but I kept falling off the bonnet.

Dr Jekyll
6th Jan 2009, 17:07
is way harder both physically and technically than it looks.

If only it was totally impossible.