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Join a Morris Dancing Group

Home > London > Dancing | Hobbies
Published January 3rd 2011
If you're a bit old in the tooth for dancing in clubs but would still like to move your body to music, you could consider a pastime deeply entrenched in English culture and desperately in need of new participants.

When most people think of Morris dancing, they think of grown men jumping up and down on the spot, waving handkerchiefs about, jingling bells tied to their knees and banging sticks together.

While this may not be a completely inaccurate description of this kind of dancing, it should be noted that this ancient tradition is also a lot more than that.

First, some Morris dancing Did You Knows:

Records show that Morris dancing first occurred in England as early as the 15th century.

Some dances involve swords (though not real ones) up to a metre long.

Many Morris dancers refer to the world of Morris dancing as simply "The Morris".

Beards are common among Morris dancers, though by no means mandatory.

Like the Red Arrows, two participants will occasionally split away from the main group to perform a number of manoeuvres before rejoining the others.

You can often find Morris dancers jumping up and down at carnivals, village fetes, street parties and the like. It's a light-hearted, jovial affair, often with music performed live by the Morris dancers themselves (though the Morris dancer may not be dancing as he plays).

It would be a big shame if the Morris dancer were to slip from view after hundreds of years of this uniquely English traditional folk dance.

But the worry is that this could happen - it's believed that if no one gets involved in Morris dancing sharpish, it could disappear from our streets in as little as 20 years.

But you can keep this tradition alive by getting involved.

And if any female readers believe Morris dancing is strictly a male domain, you'll be delighted to know that there is a women's Morris dancing team, New Esperance, based in London.

They hold weekly practice sessions in Borough, and put on a number of performances in the summer.

New Esperance have been going since the 1960s so they know what they're doing.

Blokes have a number of places where they can try. Here are just a few:

The Blackheath Morris Men – Meet every Thursday. Click here for more information.

Westminster Morris Men – These guys practise every Wednesday evening and are happy to see new faces - beard or no beard.

Greensleeves Morris Men – Located in Wimbledon. For information on regular taster sessions, click here.

And another one for women:
Blackhorse & Standard (another one for women) – Based in Walthamstow, practice sessions take place most Wednesday evenings during term time.

There's stacks of information on Morris dancing at the excellent Morris Ring website.

Morris dancers are a sociable lot and you're bound to make some new friends, at the same time having a jolly good time and helping to preserve one of England's great traditions.
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Why? Because life in England wouldn't be quite the same without it.
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