Support your local Morris dancer.

Seriously, they’re worried about keeping the practice going.

Morris dancers urge young to strap on the bells

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s morris dancers, renowned for bells on knees, colored rags and flower-bedecked hats, are launching a recruitment drive to convince young people that their stick-slapping art form is not a thing of the past.

The folk revival of the 1960s and 1970s, spearheaded by artists like Bob Dylan, led to a surge in interest in morris dancing in Britain.

But dancers who started out then are now in their 60s and often unable or unwilling to try and keep up with the accordion music.

They have a little Morris dancing at the Washington Revels’ Christmas Revels each year (here are some of their albums; alternatively, you could try John Langstaff. I think that I have most of these albums by now).  It’s fun to watch, and of course it was immortalized in Terry Pratchett’s Lords and Ladies, which is highly recommended to anybody who needs a useful corrective to the modern attitude towards elves.  Actually, Terry Pratchett is generally highly recommended, but we’re getting far afield. A buddy of mine does this, so I’ll end by throwing out a link to the Foggy Bottom Morris Men; I think that’s his group.


  • giddysinger says:

    A better site for Revels CDs is http://store.revels.org/ . This site has everything currently available. Note that the “Red Album” — the original Christmas Revels CD — actually has a recording of morris dancers dancing to the tune Constant Billy on track 6.

    Also, the recent media coverage of this supposed “recruitment drive” has been misleading. Notice that the squire of the Morris Ring is said to represent “dozens” of sides, while later in the article it says that there are “around 800” total sides in England. There’s a reason those numbers don’t add up… The Morris Ring represent the most knee-jerk traditionalist, “don’t change anything, ever,” needs-to-be-dragged-into-the-20th-century teams. OF COURSE they’re the ones who are having trouble recruiting. The other 700+ teams? Doing rather well, actually.

    Also, it should also be noted that American morris dancing is still thriving and doing just fine as well.

  • Moe_Lane says:

    Thanks for the link; I was wondering if this post would get your attention. 🙂

  • Pete says:

    To be fair, the Morris Ring represents about 200 Morris teams and by mo means all are short of dancers – and trhat’s not exclusive to Ring teams. Some teams grow old together and die; others start afresh. A typical reaction to the ‘news’ – “We all know loads of young dancers in their 20s, teens and even younger. Ross Drew and William started at 7,8 and 9 and 20 years later are still dancing. White Rose currently has 2 under 14s in the side. There are numerous rapper teams with young people none of whom seem at all embarrassed by their chosen hobby. This guy needs to get out more and go to a few festivals to see that morris dancing is alive and well and full of young people.” Pete, UK.

  • Gary says:

    giddysinger – please have a word with yourself!
    Your tirade against the Morris Ring displays a staggering lack of knowledge, but a wealth of bias and vitriol.
    The reason the figures don’t add up is probably because someone made a mistake. It happens sometimes – like when you started typing.
    Your statement “The Morris Ring represent the most knee-jerk traditionalist, “don’t change anything, ever,” needs-to-be-dragged-into-the-20th-century teams” is simply wrong and insulting, so probably written for no other reason than to represent your prejudices, which appear much deeper than those you wrongly perceive in the Morris Ring.
    Many people are members of Ring sides and also women’s or mixed sides in the Fed or Open. There are good and bad, creative and stagnant, sides in all three organisations.
    For future reference you cannot tell a Ring member apart from the others; they don’t have horns, they don’t form an angry mob with pitchforks if they see women dancing, they just happen to be with a side that are members of an all male group. The Joint Morris Organisation meets up every two years when RIng, Fed and Open sides get together, and a fine time is had by all.
    Please, drag yourself into the present. Unlike the Morris Ring, you really need to do that.

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