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Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?

GUEST,Lucy 01 Apr 09 - 02:20 PM
meself 01 Apr 09 - 02:24 PM
greg stephens 01 Apr 09 - 02:30 PM
RTim 01 Apr 09 - 02:47 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 01 Apr 09 - 03:05 PM
Tim Leaning 01 Apr 09 - 03:13 PM
Folkiedave 01 Apr 09 - 03:19 PM
ClaireBear 01 Apr 09 - 03:33 PM
The Borchester Echo 01 Apr 09 - 03:34 PM
Art Thieme 01 Apr 09 - 03:41 PM
Folknacious 01 Apr 09 - 04:08 PM
Art Thieme 01 Apr 09 - 04:17 PM
The Borchester Echo 01 Apr 09 - 04:21 PM
Kampervan 01 Apr 09 - 04:21 PM
Ref 01 Apr 09 - 04:22 PM
Kampervan 01 Apr 09 - 04:25 PM
BobKnight 01 Apr 09 - 04:35 PM
Art Thieme 01 Apr 09 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,Lucy 01 Apr 09 - 04:51 PM
Kampervan 01 Apr 09 - 04:55 PM
Paul Burke 01 Apr 09 - 05:05 PM
The Vulgar Boatman 01 Apr 09 - 05:27 PM
Art Thieme 01 Apr 09 - 06:02 PM
Crane Driver 01 Apr 09 - 06:03 PM
Will Fly 01 Apr 09 - 06:16 PM
Andrez 01 Apr 09 - 06:26 PM
DADGBE 01 Apr 09 - 09:06 PM
artbrooks 01 Apr 09 - 09:18 PM
katlaughing 01 Apr 09 - 10:14 PM
Art Thieme 01 Apr 09 - 11:55 PM
meself 02 Apr 09 - 12:54 AM
selby 02 Apr 09 - 01:56 AM
Peace 02 Apr 09 - 02:09 AM
Herga Kitty 02 Apr 09 - 02:53 AM
GUEST,Slowalan 02 Apr 09 - 03:02 AM
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the fence 02 Apr 09 - 08:18 AM
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Subject: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: GUEST,Lucy
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 02:20 PM

Hi,

I'm an Ethnomusicology Masters student writing an essay on morris dancing and masculinity for a college project on Music and Gender. I'm from a family of morris dancers so have grown up around the traditions, but was wondering if anyone had any ideas when and how morris dancing became such a joke in popular culture - i'm thinking of the recent news story about the "decline" of morris dancing among younger people and the way the media prefixed all its reports with snide remarks about hankies and bells and prancing about. Has it always been this way or is this a modern phenomenon?

Any comments would be gratefully appreciated - also any thoughts on morris and masculinity generally. I've always thought it's quite sexy..!

Thanks in advance,

Lucy Wright


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: meself
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 02:24 PM

I think it started as a joke!

(Okay, I'm sorry; I just couldn't resist ... )


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: greg stephens
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 02:30 PM

Well, it's certainly been a joke since I came to consciousness. Say the 50's. Don't know about before then. Surely it must have been funny at least since collectors dragged it from the rural wastes of Oxforshire and presented it to London.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: RTim
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 02:47 PM

Lucy - I am sure you will NOT ever get a serious answer to your question, unfortunately!
I think those of us who do take it seriously are steeped in the tradition or it has been part of our family life, and we know exactly why we do it. We may of course have many different reasons for doing it, but they are very important to us.
Both of my children have become Morris Dancers, so maybe I got something right.

Tim Radford.
Ex - Foreman and Squire The Adderbury Morris Men and Foreman of Kirtlington Morris.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 03:05 PM

I think I'd listen to Tim Radford, GUEST - Lucy, We've (my family and I) have seen The Adderbury Morris a number of times (haven't had the chance to see your new side yet, Tim)and believe me you want to see them again and again.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 03:13 PM

I love to see the morris dancers and hear the tunes.
I dont know the history and am not steeped in the tradition but even as a kid it looked like fun and was funny the dancers are usualy smilin and having a good time.
I wouldnt say Morris Dancing is a joke,but like everything else in life there is humour about it.
Can you do a degree in that now?
As for the masculinity or otherwise of the dancers make fun at a safe distance the buggers must be fit to do that all day.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 03:19 PM

Having taken the morris to France Spain Germany Hungary and Ecuador I can tell you it only happens in the UK.

Interestingly when in France we were roundly applauded by a large group of people only for them to say "Oh! You are morris dancers - when we spoke".

Personally I blame lazy journalists (which frankly is a lot of them).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: ClaireBear
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 03:33 PM

Folkiedave -- absolutely!

I was just about to say that, in the (western) US and Canada where I've performed as a morris muzo, it is treated with respect in all cases -- and, in some cases, with reverence.

Except from UK tourists, who I've heard grumble loudly about how they thought they'd be safe here...

C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 03:34 PM

Some journos are, of course lazy. However, mostly they are reinforcing the mindless prejudices of the vast majority of "normals" out there, glued to their tellies watching a classical ballet on C4 or an anodyne heat of Strictly Come Dancing.

And why do all these "normals" despise and ridicule Morris (or any other tradarts for that matter)? Because for the past several generations, the education system has taught them to do so. Only "fine" or commercialised arts are good, only "culture" meted out by their "betters" . .

As Dave says, only in England. Yes, England. Not the UK as a whole. There's no such problem in Scotland. Until our education system is overhauled and children are taught to respect their cultural heritage, this will go on.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 03:41 PM

Diane,

------------ ------------- --------!
----------------@#$%^&*@#$&^^#@#------.

------------- -------   -------------   -- - ----------!

And that's not only what the Chinese think!

Respectfully,


Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Folknacious
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:08 PM

Have none of you noticed the date? Not one!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:17 PM

Da date don't matter.
It's da prunes dat keeps ya reglar!!!

Richard M. Daley
Chicaga, Illinois (Where da gov'nuhs make ouah license plates!)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:21 PM

You might care to consult the published writings of Chris Wood and of the English Acoustic Collective. This analysis is not solely mine but accords very closely with theirs, indeed it is more or less lifted wholesale.

Such a crass, ill-considered reaction simply reinforces the mindless and moronic thoughtlessness of those who dismiss the tradarts as a joke. Could well be some kind of reflection on your inflated "masculinity" too.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Kampervan
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:21 PM

Not really sure where you're coming from there Art.

There are many dances in other countries that could easily be construed as comical, but they don't get mocked by their respective cultures.

Anyone who's tried Morris dancing knows just how fit you have to be before you can even start to get to grips with the complex movements and rhythms that make up Morris.

No-one, least of all Morris dancers - minds the odd remark, they can all take a joke, but it gets a bit wearing when the humour isn't accompanied by the respect that's due for the artform.

K/van (non-dancer)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Ref
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:22 PM

That's sort of like asking why rugby is always described in the mainstream US media as a weird form of football-without-pads played by Brit expatriates who get drunk together after every game. It looks strange to people unfamiliar with it.

On the other hand, it might just be funny.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Kampervan
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:25 PM

April 1st or not, the thread homes in on what is a real problem with the English.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: BobKnight
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:35 PM

Was it considered a "joke," before the advent of television? If something is continually portrayed as comedy fodder, it becomes a visual shorthand for something amusing. We have been taught to look upon it as something strange/funny done by beardy weirdy's.

Lazy journalism - for sure - the same attitude that always refers to beards, real ale and wooly jumpers when they are describing the folk scene.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:35 PM

It's obvious to me that Morris dance deserves respect! I've never had anything but respect for sincere and heartfelt devotion to the folk arts.

I DID think that this thread was for April Fiool's Day---so I chimed in with a meaningless post there with my intent being to take note of BOTH the actual humor of bells and sticks and prancing while inferring the subluime nature of the dance as obvious on it's face.

Once again, things meant as humor get morphed like an aspect of Tam Lin even as we speak and before our very eyes.


Every coin has two sides.

Yin and yang.

Dean and Jerry.

It is the stuff that paradox be made of.

If ya don't have a sense o' humor...

It isn't funny!

Loveingly posted with respect by Art   ;-)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: GUEST,Lucy
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:51 PM

Thanks for all the responses so far. I hadn't made the April fool's day connection. Not sure whether it's good or bad timing!
So it sounds like it's not all together a new thing, this general disregard... i've just read Cecil Sharp's Morris Book and although he does comment on the educated classes perhaps not taking such "quaint" traditions of the country folk seriously, he doesn't imply that it's out and out ridiculed.
Maybe it is somehow linked to TV? Whatever, it grates with me - it seems to be singled out among the arts for scorn in a way that i just don't think would be accepted for, say, opera or "world" musics. and it does seem to be a peculiarly English thing.
Not that i'm suggesting that it has to be venerated as wholly serious - of course it's fun too for those who do it and watch it, but i'm not sure that's what the 'outside" commentary is referring to.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Kampervan
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:55 PM

Art,
Your point is well-made and well taken.
Sorry for the mis-understanding.
K/van


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 05:05 PM

It vertainly wasn't a joke when I was a teenager wandering the streets of Manchester with my very second- hand Exakta VP SLR- my first serious camera. I came across a Morris side dancibng in St Peter's Square- I don't think I'd ever seen dance so exciting. Sadly, the young blokes who danced then are even older than me now.

It became a joke when self- regarding overpaid twerps took control of our media, and the sheep followed their every word like the idiots they are. "Russell Brand" says it all really. No, not quite. "Jeremy Clarkson" says the rest.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 05:27 PM

Some thoughts, for what they're worth:

Just because the media says it's a joke doesn't mean it is...

Take a traditonal art form out of its natural habitat and you take that risk - especially if there's no money to be made out of it.

Just once we got it right - six men and a musician so together that I felt we were about six inches of the ground and putting our feet DOWN. Hair standing up on back of neck, and when we walked round afterwards, the words went "bloody 'ell, what was that?" And a bloke in the crowd (in 1970 ish) said "I don't know what you buggers did just then but it scared the crap out of me" and put £10 in the bag.

For better or worse, it's the ritual dance of this country, and if there are those who wish to make a joke of their own culture, so be it - it's nothing new or particularly clever. But there are many thousands of those who will still stand outside pubs to watch revival morris sides dance their collected dances, and put money in the bag so that it can continue; there are thousands of dancers and musicians who wear it like an old coat. And that's before we get to the surviving sides with a continuous tradition.

I must be getting optimistic in my old age - look at all the things that have not survived, amongst other things, the anihilation of half the male population of Europe, and then try very hard to tell me why the morris can't look after itself. Then admit that the sight of six, often overweight and middle-aged blokes with bells on, smacking each other with ash cudgels to music outside a pub might just strike some people as slightly eccentric...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 06:02 PM

To answer the first post's query!

The very first time I ever heard Morris Dance referred to for comic effect of some kind was when the late, often great, Canadian singer songwriter, Stan Rogers, on stage doing his set sort of demeaned the Morris dancer group at that same festival (Winnipeg possibly) by saying, Morris dancing "...was done to a ponderous knuckle-dragging Neanderthal beat!" It was said, I thought, to evoke laughter---and it did. But it was not terribly much laughter as I recall it.

Lucy, that is my two cents---for what it's worth. I hope it helps you some. But I've no idea if that utterance by Stan, a wonderful writer of songs that could easily be taken for the real McCoy, was the seminal point on the calendar that you are trying to find.

Stan did have a way of finding testosterone driven motivations of derivatives--cause and effect--where seeing things that way was, at best, not really called for. (See his song, "Harris And The Mare" and several others.


Geez, folks, I had no idea this thread was taking me to these ruminations---in these directions. No intent to bash Stan or anyone. It's just how I saw it. Stan, a bit like Hemingway, did protest a bit too much.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Crane Driver
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 06:03 PM

I started dancing the Morris in (of all places) Edinburgh in the early 70s. At one point we had over 20 members, only 2 of which were over 30 years of age. It certainly wasn't treated as a joke in that time and place (not a natural home for the Morris, many would say).

Sadly the Lothians Morris didn't survive. I guess attitudes changed.

The original poster may want to look into the Battle of Marlborough, which certainly reached mythic proportions in the 70s. A group of Hells Angels began shouting insults at a visiting Morris side and got seven kinds of crap beaten out of them, which helped adjust attitudes towards the Morris in that part of the world for quite a while.

But it's not just Morris. Too many 'opinion-formers' in England treat all forms of English folk culture as a joke, while being prepared to venerate folk culture from pretty well anywhere else.

Sad

Andrew


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 06:16 PM

Coincidentally, the ceilidh band I play in did a gig tonight (I'm just back from it). The gig was the culmination of a day of morris dancing for 4 local primary schools in my area. The children had been practising and dancing all day, in their own costumes, and they - plus teachers and parents - all got together on a local village hall to demonstrate their dancing. So we had children strutting their morris stuff and then the adults being shown some dances to music by the band.

It was a great evening. The hall was packed. The children danced delightfully, and everyone had a great time. The event was sponsored by SEFAN - the South-East Folk Arts Network - and a huge amount of time was put in by local teachers, parents and stalwarts from the Ditchling Morris. I felt privileged to be part of it - even as just a humble member of the band.

And I should add that Ditchling Morris regularly dance in Normandy and invite local French dance teams back to Sussex.

There's a lot of good stuff going on...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Andrez
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 06:26 PM

Look guys lighten up please. If you are "into" something you do it because you like it and care for it. Regrettably not everyone is going to share your interests and passion and they will either ignore it completely, view it from the sidelines taking a live or let live attitude, or they will hate it and go and find something more appealing to their tastes and interests or they will take the piss using humor.

Personally I am happy to watch Morris if I happen to come across it in Oz. I am respectful of the fact that some people have got together to learn about the tradition and train to put on a show.

On the other hand once I get a whiff of someone taking their "art" too seriously ( and I have seen a lot of that in the past), I am quite happy to go into joke mode and then anything is fair game.

So tell me why are Morris dancers more thin skinned than bodhran players or banjo players to name but two other "persecuted" musical minorities?

Cheers,

Andrez

PS: The bottom line of course is that if Morris dancing, like sex, feels good you will keep doing it. If it doesnt dont and find something else to do!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: DADGBE
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 09:06 PM

Of course, everyone now knows the true history. The form was invented by Morris Danzig, Holly Tannen's uncle, when he lived in the Bronx in the 1920s.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: artbrooks
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 09:18 PM

You don't see morris dancing too much in the States. When you do, I don't really think anyone sees it as a joke - probably because we aren't exposed/inundated with "morris jokes" as you seem to be in England. Rather, it is viewed as an interesting variety of folkloric dance and gets about the same (minimal) level of respect as does Greek or Mexican dance.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 10:14 PM

We loved it when we first came across it in New England back in the early 1980s; still love it, but don't see it live out here in the Rocky Mountain west.

I am wondering what has happened to our square dancing...is it ridiculed here in the USA the way Morris seems to be in England? They taught it in school when I was a kid, but I don't think my kids ever had it after they'd passed the third grade or so, if even then. We do have some clogging groups out here.

kat


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 11:55 PM

Kat,

I do think that square dancing, as you knew it in school, has, over the last 35 years slowly been combined with clog-dancing. Large ensemble groups like the Fiddle Puppets, The Green Grass Cloggers and several other well known aggregations played just about all of the large folk festivals through the 1970s and '80s. Juel Ulven, Phil Cooper, Kate Early and The Fox Valley Folklore Society here in Illinois (where our governors make our license plates) sponsor dances of this kind just about every week of the year. Vicki Moss in the Washington D.C. area, I'm sure, is still involved with those dances since leaving our area. I bet you know of dances like these I'm talking about around you too.

Dancing is how much of the Old Timey music survives in the USA in this millenium. Concert sets and gigs, like those we in the '50s and '60s heard the New Lost City Ramblers present to urban audiences are fairly rare these days. But the dance scene is going strong --- backed by Old Time string bands.

Art


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: meself
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 12:54 AM

Re: Stan Rogers. He said that he composed the melody of his song "The Idiot" using the rhythm he had become familiar with from Morris dancing. Not saying that he participated in it, mind, but implying that he found the rhythm appealing, such that he felt the urge to experiment with it.

He was known, though, for making untactful remarks "to evoke laughter".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: selby
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 01:56 AM

Morriss in all its forms suffers from a lack of understandinf tied in with all the things that have been said. The old adage of don't knock it till you have tried also rings true,
A work collegue who ran with the pack and joked with me for being a folkie was forced by his partner to go to a school ceildh he enjoyed it that much that at their wedding they are having a ceildh band he looks for dances to go to and asks me about the big bands, he fancys a go at morris so there is hope and probably no good reason why people knock it other than socially the worlds changed
Keith


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Peace
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 02:09 AM

"When did morris dancing become a joke?"

Wasn't aware it had. I suspect there are degrees of ability/art/skill/respect for the tradition, and troupes that practise lots will have a better handle on the form than troupes that don't. I'd also suspect that some use it as an excuse to get shit-faced. They'd be the ones that make it a 'joke' I'd think. IMO--with no offense intended to anyone anywhere in the whole wide world.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 02:53 AM

I tried googling on morris dancing and incest and found this and also this . So did Arnold Bax and Thomas Beecham both make the connection...?

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: GUEST,Slowalan
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 03:02 AM

I was a dancer in Australia with Sydney and Canberra Morrismen, had to stop dancing because of bad hips/knees/liver. But to my surprise my very groovy twenty year old son decided to become a dancer, and is now with Black Joak Morris. This side has three second generation dancers, and one third generation dancer born in England.

Black Joak also has a couple of sixteen year olds, so I am not at all worried about the continuation of Morris. I now play fiddle for the dancers.

Funny, when I was dancing, nobody ever laughed at us. Who would laugh at eight fit blokes, most of them over six foot and fifteen stone carrying dirty great lumps of wood. One of our dancers was the Bouncer at famous Sydney knocking shop the Touch of Class.I can only think of one occaison we used the sticks for non peaceful purposes... when some yobbo attacked our muso while we were dancing. the squire suddely called rounds, and every person dancing past this yobbo bashed him with a yard of willow.. worked a treat.Just like the Cloggies!

Despite all of the boozing and singing and dancing, sometimes, when the dance fell into place eactly, we could all feel an unreal connection to generations before us and, I suspect, to things in the collective uncosnsious. Like alcoholism, only people who have it will know what I am talking about.

Laugh all you like, but those who do are laughing at the whiteman's oldest form of cultural expression.I reckon Morris will be around a long time after most other cultural forms have gone to dust . Why? Because it is real magic.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: GUEST,Bob L
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 03:06 AM

For the other side of the coin, have a shufti at http://www.stormpages.com/baboons/Bab1.htm (skip the first three quarters or so).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 03:53 AM

When did morris dancing become a joke?

I don't know for sure but suspect it had something to do with the Cloggies. The cartoon strip made fun of a hard drinking, clog wearing, uncouth team of dancers and was popular from the late 60s.
Even in NZ, many people who have never seen a Morris side in action, will make rude comments if we admit to being Morris dancers.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Will Fly
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 04:16 AM

Ah! The Cloggies! A truly great creation by Bill Tidy - thanks for the Wikipedia link - very funny itself and well written.

The Cloggies were also used as characters in, if I remember rightly, the real ale magazine produced by CAMRA. I recall one strip where the Cloggies leader was breathalised by the law, having drunk 40 pints of Watneys Red Barrel - and was found to be under the limit...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 04:35 AM

"So tell me why are Morris dancers more thin skinned than bodhran players or banjo players to name but two other "persecuted" musical minorities?"

Thats not really fair
I am sure that anyone with the right background and a degree in
Cultural uses of the frame drum in agricultural societies pre 1914,
would get just as prickly and pretentious as any other defender of the trad arts,if you should happen to make a light hearted and possibly disrespectful comment on their efforts.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: davyr
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 04:48 AM

I'm not sure The Cloggies were to blame - they were always more akin to step cloggers than Clog Morris Dancers anyway. Personally I'd blame Dennis The Menace (the "Beano" character, not the US comic book and TV character of the same name).

Several generations of British men have grown up associating any form of dancing by males with the effeminate "Walter The Softy" (pressing wild flowers and reading poetry has a similarly negative image for the same reason). What red-blooded male would not prefer to identify with Dennis rather than Walter?

And that bloody Tetley Tea Folk ad from the 70s, where they all had bells on their carpet slippers, didn't help either...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Acorn4
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 05:04 AM

I've found that most Morris Dancers I've met have a sense of humour -as one of them pointed out last year , you have to have one to do it.

It's a part of tradition that we all love, but taking the p*** is also part of the English tradition.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 05:14 AM

On Bax versus Beecham (or Wilde ...), here is a

previous thread


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Jess A
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 06:27 AM

In response to Andrez - with respect, I genuinely think that morris s singled out, in England at least, for ridicule by the general public and the media in particular. This is not the same as the general piss-taking amongst people who are already involved in the scene with regards to banjos, bodhrans, or whatever else. I have never heard anybody on national radio or tv sniggering about banjo players for example, and that happens far too often about the morris. Most morris dancers have pretty thick skins and are happy to take the piss amongst themselves, so I don't think this thread is about people being precious about 'their' hobby being mocked. It's more that England seems to have developed a national habit of believing that morris is something to be embarrassed about, in a way that no other country that I know of seems to behave towards their national dance. And at the same time England is regularly taken over with fads and fashions for other countries' dance traditions - the riverdance phenomenon for example. No idea whether the same attitude is prevalent in other countries such as Australia, so maybe you haven't come across the attitude that is upsetting some of us here...?

I can't help answer Lucy's original question though - certainly the situation has been teh same for as long as I've been aware of it but I'm only in my 30's.

J


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: GUEST,EricTheOrange
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 06:41 AM

Some journos are, of course lazy. However, mostly they are reinforcing the mindless prejudices of the vast majority of "normals" out there, glued to their tellies watching a classical ballet on C4 or an anodyne heat of Strictly Come Dancing.

It's interesting how Strictly seems to have resurrected ballroom dancing in the popularity stakes. Certainly when I was growing up this was seen as the most comical and uncool type of dancing you could do. While we might have taken the mick out of Morris dancers, it didn't escape our notice that sides seemed to have a lot of fun & got to drink a lot of beer.

As for official bodies getting involved in funding for Morris and folk events I suspect this would be the beginning of the end. One of the strengths of the folkie world is that the people involved do so much themselves without needing the approval of "outsiders." This self-reliance is a strength.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Bloke from Poole
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 07:56 AM

At grass roots level I don't see Morris taken as a joke. Most ordinary people seem to enjoy watching, and the banter and leg-pulling is good humoured.

There are a number of elements at play, and I don't think there is a simple answer.

It is presently fashionable in some circles to talk down anything that is English - mostly by English, but with a few expat Scots joining in. Somebody I know, when told that something was English, stated "That can't be any good then". I asked why. She said "Because it's English". Why? She didn't know, wasn't that what everyone said?

Part of the problem does seem to lie, not so much with journalists, but with columnists. Part of it, I believe, is the "lazy media" - a stereotype saves a great deal of original effort and the media seem very fond of milking stereotypes these days. And cliches, of course.

Maybe it's part of being a "personality" - Clarkson and caravans, Ann Robinson and Welsh folk - if you're a "personality", you need a down on somebody or something - pick a soft target who isn't going to sue you. TV and press are into personalities - presenters, columnists and now bloggers no longer present the stories, they are the stories and they have to make themselves stand out. Mocking somebody or something is a very cheap way of doing so.

Local press is usually supportive. I do note a trend among male journalists to present themselves as incapable and inept. They brag about their lack of DIY skills, inability to use basic technology, ability to get lost by using SatNav, and so on. This seems to colour their reporting of people who actually get out there and do stuff, and such activities rarely get reported without a snigger even if otherwise treated kindly.
The "quality" press seem to be the main culprits. I personally take the view that their readers like to be made to feel smug and superior, and the columnists like to oblige by setting up a few stereotypes to look down on and sneer at - Morris and caravans, activities of ordinary people (vs ballet and weekends in Paris or Rome) are handy targets.

A gentleman on the Morris list has a compilation of press reports prompted by the "MOrris extinction" stories, PM me if you want me to find the URL. It is interesting to see who said what...

As to when, I don't know. Certainly up to 1980s I wasn't aware of the sniping. But perhaps I was't looking in the right places.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: GUEST,Graham Bradshaw
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 08:03 AM

Let me declare where I am coming from first. I was a member of Earlsdon Morris in Coventry, who danced NW Clog, between 1975 and late 1980s. I never saw it as a joke and had a great time. Most of the members were of a similar age - 20s and 30s - although there were a few lads in their teens. Most of the current make up of the side is the same blokes who are now much older, apart from a few sons in their 20s, and they are struggling for members.

Now, let's rewind back to the 1960s, when I first discovered folk music in my teens. I wasn't really aware of morris dancing as the big revival was yet to happen. I DO remember going to watch the local side (Thames Valley I think) on Boxing Days, and had a fairly neutral opinion as I remember. However, I think there was an implicit opinion around that they were all 'a bit strange'. There was a bloke at the local folk club who danced in a morris side, who was probably in his 40s, and I think there was a general feeling that 'they were all blokes in their 40s who still lived with their mums'.

Now, at the time I guess this was probably a euphemism for 'suspect homosexual'. Remember this was a time when it was still illegal, and not really referred to very much in conversation.

There were a few sniggers about Morris dancing then, and this carried on into the general public when the big revival happened a bit later (mainly in the 1970s).

However, as a counterpoint to this, I can remember my grandmother and my great-grandmother telling me about morris dancing in their village in Wiltshire. I guess we are going back to before the First World War. At that time, my great-grandfather was leader of the village silver band, and he and his sons played cricket for the village team (and I believe one of them played for Wiltshire when they still had a County side). A lot of the cricket team were also in the village morris side. It was apparently a GREAT HONOUR to be chosen for the morris side, and there was great competition for places. According to my grandmother, they wore their cricket whites as a uniform, with a straw hat wound with flowers to adapt it for its alternative usage. In those days, people wouldn't have been able to afford a special kit. Remember that the only clothes they had was their weekly work wear, and a Sunday best suit for Church.

Back then, there was definitely no thought that it was a joke. Quite the reverse.

I suspect this crept in during the post-2nd World War period, when most people had no experience of MD, and regarded it as weird.

And, as with all these stereotypes, the media perpetuate them.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: the fence
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 08:18 AM

I think the lack of understanding regarding 'hankies' 'bells' and the change of 'outfits' probably has something to do with it. I recently went to a 'morris night'(for the first time)and thoroughly enjoyed it, there was a history of morris and the reasons for the costumes.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Bainbo
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 08:47 AM

I don't now if this was the start of it, but the 80s would be when that ad for lager, featuring Paul Hogan, was on telly. "Which one's Maurice?" he asked to camera, as a team performed outside a pub. The advert was repeated ad nauseam - leading to the phrase being shouted countless times at our morris side, each time by someone who thought he was being wittily original, and we'd never have heard it before. That and: "Jingle bells".

Mind, at least the Paul Hogan ads were disparaging about ballet dancing, as well. Remember "Strewth! That bloke's got no strides on!"?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: davyr
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 09:17 AM

As Graham Bradshaw says, before the first Sharp-inspired revival, membership of a Morris side *was* usually seen as a great honour, jealously guarded and often kept within the same group of families within a village.

The "Pagan Survivalists" would have us believe in some sort of hereditary priesthood thing going on, but far more likely was the fact that belonging to a side meant that you could often pick up a few extra bob when times were hard.

Which, of course, was exactly what has going on when Sharp first encountered Headington Quarry Morris on Boxing Day, 1899...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Acorn4
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 09:35 AM

I can't make a direct link to the song, but if you click in the top right tracklist it should play:-

Daddy, Don't Become A Morris Dancer!

The theory being, people do it to get their own back on their teenage offspring.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 10:41 AM

Theh 14th of September, 1962. I remember it well.

No thanks needed.

DeG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Tradsinger
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 04:31 PM

When I started Morris Dancing, in about 1970, it certainly wasn't a joke as it came on the back of the folk revival in England and lots of young fit men (mostly men in 1970) including myself (yes, I was young and fit then) joined local sides. The image then was very macho and associated to some extent with lots of beer drinking. However, in general the male Morris population has grown older and not been replaced. This last sentence is a sweeping generalisation and I know there are lots of exceptions, but the truth is that there are lots of grey-haired morrismen in their 60s, including me, but we still do Morris because we enjoy it, because we can and because we don't want it to die out.

Over the years, the media has gradually built up this negative image of Morris, so that now there is a Pavlovian reaction when it is mentioned on the media. (e.g. Presenter says "Morris Dancing" in a sneering way and the audience is programmed to snigger.) As previous posters have said, this is an ENGLISH phenomenum, not found in other countries. And it is counter-productive to us in many ways as it deters youngsters from taking up Morris. I have danced Morris in several other European countries, where it is invariably met with enthusiasm, as are their own national dances. There is certainly none of the sneering that we get in England, and in many ways it is more satisfying to dance abroad as we are more appreciated.

I have recently 'defended' Morris on national radio, once on 'Talk Sport', which was a total waste of time as I was just there as an Aunt Sally. A friend said afterwards that the station should be called 'Talk b*ll*cks' rather than talk sport and I agree. The other time was recently on BBC Five Live for their midnight debate where the presenters were marginally more sensible than Talk Sport but were still there to shoot me down. I played it all with a straight bat!

But, and there is a but, I think Morris, particularly male Cotswold Morris, has to think about its image, however much us old chaps like it and defend it. Standards are important - a load of old blokes can and do put on a good show but it always looks better with younger and fitter legs doing the dancing, especially on high (another pun intended) profile occasions. I can also see why some people regard a lot of Morris kit as old hat (pun intended - flowers in hats are a frequent target of criticism). In other words, like any art form, Morris dancers have a duty to put on a good show and not just say 'well, that's what we do, take it or leave it'.

So I rest my case. It's the fault of the English media which has brainwashed the English public into an automatic reaction against Morris Dancing. What to do about it? - get the Morris Film on national distribution!

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: English Jon
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 04:36 PM

I think Jinky Wells had the last laugh....

Cheers,
J


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 05:02 PM

As I've always been fond of saying over the years, "I get my exercise being a pall bearer for clog dancers.   ;-)

Art


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Andrez
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 05:09 PM

Thanks for your perspective Jess. Ok so I understand only too well how the commercial media can take something that is essentially non commercial and then manipulate public perceptions with a view to making a (usually) negative point of some sort. That happens everywhere but from what I can see from here the British Murdoch media are particularly good at it.

If you want some sense of why this is happening, you have to ask yourself who is benefiting from promoting the negative perceptions. Is it selling more papers by pandering to the publics interest in trivia? Is it creating a profile for some two bit wannabe media commentator? Is it about disempowering and belittling a "local" art form with a view to promoting something with more "commercial" values? That sort of process is happening all over the world and is most likely connected to this whole globalisation process that has been happening over the past two or three decades. Without getting into a long diatribe on that issue, you only need to consider what is happening to traditional cultural forms competing for public attention with "product" promoted by the new "values" in rapidly developing countries like India and China, to get some sense of the process.

Its hard to know how to combat these processes on a local basis but a couple of things come to mind. The first is to keep doing what you are doing. If thats Morris, then so be it. The other thing you can do is to hit the "commercial interests" where it hurts. Don't buy their papers. Don't watch their television stations and if you do then dont watch shows that provide a platform for cheap shots at local artforms... drive their ratings down and let them know what you are doing and why. Last but not least, don't buy products that are advertised in the selfsame media. It may not change things tomorrow but over a couple of ratings seasons you could make a real difference.

Voting with your wallet is the surest way to get the "media" to take a more constructive line. Its something that even Rupert can understand.

Cheers,

Andrez


PS: There are more persectuted musical minorities than those who revere the agricultural frame drum. Bass players and accordion players just to name two more :-)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 05:10 PM

Morris a joke? Compared with England cricket just now?

A good healthy laugh for the dancers, maybe.

The meejah are there so the populace at large can know better than the rubbish in the papers and on TV.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Andrez
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 11:16 PM

Actually not that much better than Oz cricket......... now there's a possibility for a few serious jokes. Come to think of it here's a few...... sorry about the thread drift from the Morris issue but I just couldnt resist!

Q. What does Ponting put in his hands to make sure the next ball almost always takes a wicket?
A. A bat.

A. The guy who removes the red ball marks from the bats.

Q. What's the Australian version of LBW?
A. Lost, Beaten, Walloped.

Q: what is the difference between an Australian fielder and a condom?
A: one drops a catch and other catches a drop

Q: What is the Australian version of a hat-trick?
A: 3 runs in 3 balls

Q: When would Ponting have 100 runs against his name?
A: When he is bowling.

Q: Where do Australian Batsman perform their best?
A: In Advertisments.

Cheers,

Andrez


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: GUEST,Dáithí
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 04:42 AM

There's also the phenomenon of...hmm, would you call it "new" morris?...I'm thinking of wild groups such as Wolf's Head or female groups such as the Raving Maes - both available to view on Youtube,I think.
Both scary and sexy in equal measure!
D


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Acorn4
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 04:54 AM

While we're on the subject of Morris, there's a new festival happening this year in Leicestershire at Moira Furnace on the weekend of 21st August (the weekend before Shrewsbury) and the organisers are still a bit short on teams.

If you're part of a team that has a free slot that weekend have a look at this:-

Moira Furnace Folk Festival

or phone Dave Johns on :- 01530270494

There was a thread some time ago called "Is Morris Dancing Better than Having Sex?" or something similar.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Tradsinger
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 05:43 AM

Off topic but how can you slate off English cricket when the England team has just won the world cup (true - check it out).

And is Morris better than sex? - sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 06:44 AM

Morris dancing better than sex? - It rather depends who you do it with.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 07:53 AM

I can't speak for the hankies and bells, but as a former rapper dancer I've never known anyone take the p*** out of any dancer holding 4 ft of steel.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 08:22 AM

I teach the Morris to 10 and 11 year olds (Yes, I have been CRB'd) at the school to which my two grandsons go.

Do the youngsters think the Morris a joke ?

No - they think the Morris is "cool", and there is a struggle to get into the side for the School May Day Revels.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 08:52 AM

Amusing - yes, a joke - no. Beardy, sweaty, half-cut blokes with flowers in their hats makes me smile but that's a long way from saying Morris is ridiculous.
At the very least it means summer's here and beer is nearby. Beer to the clack of sticks and clogs - nice!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: GUEST,Lucy
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 12:49 PM

Bryn - that's great news! I also know quite a few strapping young guys who morris dance who also take it all pretty seriously - it's quite competitive, with who can leap the highest etc. all v. athletic. That's pretty well how i see it's role in the past, to show off to the local girls.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 03:07 PM

I think everybody above has just about covered all the main points.
As a dancer in the 60s I did worry about the hanky waving although the stick bashing was much more macho.

I think the main problem could be applied to several traditions, the innate conservatism that stops the tradition from continuing to evolve so that it becomes largely a museum piece frozen in the 19th century in this case. Those teams that have tried to update the image, costumes and style are not laughed at, at least not in the same way.

As someone has already pointed out, the northern sword dances are not ridiculed, and they have similarities. Therefore look at the differences.

Again to repeat what has been said about ageing dancers, I do think some of the younger dancers like 'Dog Rose' with their athletic prowess can even make the hanky waving look impressive.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 04 Apr 09 - 06:11 AM

Morris-phobia amongst the general public is already becoming a folk belief in itself. In another generation or two, therefore, it will be "traditional" in its own right. Then we'll have to show it some respect!

Imagine school-kids being ordered to shout "Jingle bells!" or "Which one's Maurice?" whenever they see dancers with bells on their knees.   Imagine them being warned by their parents never to indulge in folk dancing of any sort, because famous musicians (and celebrity columnists) have frequently declared that "It's worse than incest!"

Maybe that would get the kids interested?

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Jane of 'ull
Date: 04 Apr 09 - 08:49 PM

Going back to the inital post - yeah Lucy I agree morris dancers can be sexy. oh dear I've just 'come out' as a morris fancier.. but then I've always had questionable taste in men ;)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: katlaughing
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 12:21 AM

I have really enjoyed reading the responses in this thread and, learned even more than I thought I knew about MD. And, if I sussed it out right, 'rapper' dancer means with swords. not what rap mean over here?

Art Thieme, thanks for your response about square dancing. I think you are right...I have seen clogging groups, in fact there is one that gets together every other month or so here.

They are saying folks are getting back into self-entertainment, i.e. inexpensive ways of enjoyment, board games, etc. I wonder if they might also get back into community dance parties, etc. I'd love to see Morris spread over here, more, but doubt it will happen.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 05:03 AM

I'm a member of the John Clare Society (if you haven't heard of him, John Clare was a 19th century rural poet). Every year, since about 1982, I've attended a festival in his native village of Helpstone (in Cambridgeshire - it came under Northamptonshire in Clare's day).

The festival is in mid-July, on the Saturday closest to Clare's birthday (13th July).

Every year, around mid-day on festival day, Peterborough Morris dance outside the two village pubs (The Blubell and the Exeter Arms). In all that time I have never once heard anyone snigger or take the piss. The audience watches attentively, applauds politely and contributes to the collection. It seems to me that many people actually like Morris and accept it as part of the English rural scene - especially in a context like the Clare festival.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 05:30 AM

Yesterday I saw a Morris side (Little Bollington?) at local green festival. Plenty of people were smiling (including the dancers) because Morris can have that effect. Making people smile is to be encouraged. The only people I noticed taking the piss (and this was quietly and good humouredly) was a couple of ex-Morris dancers decrying the drop in standards...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 09:25 AM

It will come as a complete surprise to the lady in question, when I, of all people , say that I agree 100% with Diane Easby on this subject.

When I was in primary school (1946 to 1951), folk song and folk dance were a very important part of our education, and as a result, we were steeped in the history and heritage of English culture.

Sometime in the late fifties or early sixties the emphasis changed, and folk arts were no longer considered important by the English educational establishment.

While the French and almost all other european countries were still preserving THEIR traditions, our kids were majoring in the Beatles and the Stones.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against pop music, particularly the innovative sixties stuff, but it seems that England can't do ANYTHING by halves, and to have the new, the bulk of the population HAS to do away with the old, even the best of the old. What better way to achieve that than to laugh it out of existence.

This is now compounded by a succession of governments who are edging us towards a federated European superstate, and to that end, actively seek to destroy anything that deters us from thinking of ourselves as European.

As always, heritage and culture, in the minds of politicians, take second place to the preferred political agenda.

I thank the Fates for the hardcore of believers who preserve culture and tradition against the dumbing down of the population by government.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Penny S.
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 02:07 PM

I've been thinking about a similar attitude in school playgrounds, but with a different target. Imaginative play is greeted by certain people whose opinion drives others as totally beneath contempt. So no Robin Hood, Dr Who or Primeval goes on. No one wants the alphas sneering at them. On discussing this with a friend, who, unfortunately, himself finds morris a bit jokey, we came to the conclusion that the sneerers in both cases. have a hidden insecurity. If others can be seen enjoying something they do not like themselves, then maybe they (that is the sneerers) are valuing the wrong things. And, moreover, as they have themselves never practised the activity, if they attempted it, they would not be best, as they are in football, which they do to the exclusion of all other activities. They cannot allow that other people are better than they are at something, so it becomes necessary to put down the other activity and make it seem worthless. So internal creativity is slighted, and the skilful practice of MD.

Perhaps we could get a side of Beckham, Rooney, Rinaldo trained up?

Penny


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 09:28 PM

We had Morris dancing once or twice a year in the Junior School playground (late 1950s). Our Religious Knowledge teacher was a member of the local side.

When the scare story of Morris dancing dying out hit the English media earlier this year, local sides were quick off the mark saying they're actually not doing that badly, with significant numbers of young members.

So "any publicity is good publicity" has probably given Morris dancing a boost in the last two months. I hope that all Morris sides are aware of the value of getting to dance to children at the age where global commercial agendas have yet to take over young minds.

Reading fairly thoroughly the contributions to this thread, I think Diane Easby and Andrez have fingered the villains.

Various media giants have indeed a global agenda to make the world Corporate American (far more sinister than any threat to English culture from Europe, Don). That involves ridiculing tradition / non commercial activity. It's sadly worked to a huge degree in England especially (common language a disadvantage over Europeans for example).

Across the music world in England sad characters cannot get before a microphone and sing without aping an American accent - and visiting (liberal) Americans are often bemused by this.

Yes, if you're doing a cover of Elvis then you may want to sound authentic (would an American JAM or early STATUS QUO cover band sing in Woking, or Wyoming accent?
But an English singer singing American about London Bridge....

It's rife in pop, and now spreading to Folk!

And here's a bit of sociological stuff for you Lucy:

We could also debate the threat, from drugs culture, to Morris, Folk, Real Ale; Trainspotting with all other forms of ("Anorak") activity, which involves being enthusiastic for something.

And drugs culture, some would say, is the means of pacifying those who would have no hope in the commercial world - and conveniently makes a virtue from not being interested in challenging unfairness/injustice - of thing like commercialism! It's the other side of the same coin to the media ridicule.      

Ian Fyvie, BA (Hons) - Sociology


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 07:49 AM

Katlaughing, yes you got it right, a rapper is a 4ft length of flexible steel with a handle at each end, (descended from the Northumbrian coracle-makers spokeshave :-] ) Most of the dances involve starting in a circle and by weaving in and out, tying all the rappers into a complicated knot which is held aloft to general applause.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Vin2
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 09:05 AM

I think lampooning or parodying something like dance forms is probably as old as the dance forms themselves whether that be barn dance, country dance, ballet, military two-step, cajun or morris.

I remember the two Ronnies routine with morris dancers, very clever, very skillful and very entertaining. I don't think they were treating morris as a 'joke' in a ridiculing sort of way but they did make people laugh, created a lot of enjoyment for the dancers themselves and the viewers. Which i guess is what morris is all about.

I don't think morris is meant to be taken toooo seriously except by those who have to perfect their dance routines and moves. Tis there to tell a story or fable or depict a pageantry in music and dance.

As to the original question; i don't think morris dancing has ever been a joke ('cept of course to those who perceive it as such) but it is definately often very amusing and very entertaining both visually and musically and long may it continue!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 06:32 AM

""(far more sinister than any threat to English culture from Europe, Don).""

I think you misunderstood me Ian.

Visit almost any European state in the summer, and you WILL at some point be entertained by local people playing music of their tradition, or performing traditional dance. That can only be described as entirely laudable, and nobody in those countries laughs at the musicians or the dancers.

I utterly approve of the fact that the bulk of Europe reveres and protects its diverse heritages and cultures. There is NO threat to us FROM Europe, but rather from our own stupid government who seem to think that, in order to get a general consensus to enter a federal European superstate, it will be necessary first to rid us of ideas of Britishness, in the way that they have already half destroyed the concept of Englishness.

It is obvious to anyone with half a brain that we can enter Europe as far as we wish, with our culture and heritage intact, and without submerging our National identity, so that would seem to imply a lack of mental capacity in our politicians.

That, as usual, is where the danger lies.

If I had MY way folk lore, music and dance would be part of the core curriculum for all primary schools, with some degree of education in the folk traditions of other cultures. The more you know about foreign people, the harder it is to be xenophobic.

Don T


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Acorn4
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 06:42 AM

On the other hand, Don, I remember we did folk dancing at Primary School and I hated it because you had to hold hands with GIRLS _UGGH!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Penny S.
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 07:18 AM

I did a folk dance teaching course once. I was a heretic, because when I taught it I did not insist on the boys holding hands with gurls. They enjoyed it - and would say that they had thought it was going to be boring to do it instead of football, but they liked it. But according to the course people, I was wrong because it is a social dance and should be done like adults, and Y4 is tto young.

The self same people were also adamant that morris should only be done by men, and that women had their own ritual dances - which they would not divulge. They did not seem to notice any irony about the boys with boys.

I found, in an old school book on the subject, that it was "obvious" that boys should not dance with other boys, and reinforced this with great emphasis, but no explanation. So I assume, unless they were concerned for behaviour issues, which would be the only reason I would separate them, they were concerned about the gaiety of the dancers.

I suspect, Acorn, that in your case, the intention was to turn people off the whole subject. It wasn't just holding hands, on that course. We had to hold hands in a niminy piminy droop wristed dancy dancy display form. Not in a we're all having fun way. No wonder people sneer at the subject.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Acorn4
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 07:52 AM

Yep...scarred for life, I guess!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 07:55 AM

I remember we did folk dancing at Primary School and I hated it because you had to hold hands with GIRLS _UGGH!"

A familiar problem for anyone who calls for "family" ceilidhs, where Shakespeare's seven ages can all be found. And these are ??

1. The tots ? they will only dance with parents (usually Mum, because Dad's at the bar) or with "best friends" (always the same gender as themselves).

2. The almost-teenagers - girls will dance with each other, but not with those rough and smelly boys. Boys won't dance at all because it's soft ? they'd rather be playing football (and given half a chance will start a game in the middle of the dance floor).

3. The early teenagers ? girls will dance (with other girls), provided you can persuade them to stop gossiping and giggling for a few minutes. Boys (still rough and smelly, and now spotty as well) are too embarrassed to dance at all - and anyhow, the ones who look old enough to get served will be hanging around the bar.

4. The late-teens/early twenties ? both sexes are keen to dance with a partner they fancy, but often have difficulty finding a partner who fancies them. Most succeed eventually, and soon move on to the next stage.

5. The young parents - it's a family ceilidh, so of course they've brought the kids along. One may ride herd on the little monsters while the other desperately seeks an adult partner ? or they may just take turns dancing with one of the kids.

6. The mature parents ? many already have excuses for not dancing (bad backs, dodgy knees, high blood pressure, etc), so they sit around in foursomes swapping horror-stories about their teenage offspring. (Meanwhile the offspring create mayhem, or shudder with embarrassment in corners.)

7. The grandparents ? they usually have more medical excuses for not dancing ? indeed, this is often their favourite topic of conversation. However, they may be willing to manage the grand-kids while the generation in between dance (or gossip, or hang around the bar).

It often seems that a miracle will be required to get any dancing going at a family ceilidh. And yet somehow the miracle usually happens, sending most of the punters home smiling. But it's hard work for the caller.

Returning (finally) to our original topic ? several of the reasons for not dancing listed above apply as much to Morris as they do to ceilidhs. Nevertheless, both activities still manage to struggle on, and long may they continue to do so.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Penny S.
Date: 09 Apr 09 - 05:57 AM

You do realise how important in the debate has been the totally unmentioned development of the plastic football?

Penny


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Penny S.
Date: 12 Apr 09 - 07:31 AM

I've had further thoughts on this after a bit of channel hopping on Friday. There was a bit of Riverdance, with the men from the Irish tradition showing their moves off to some Spanish men, who replied, all in front of the women. And there was a bit of Big Horn sheep, crashing the little brains out of their skulls. Someone up above has commented that morris used to be the young men of the village showing off their prowess to the young women. And of course, that makes women doing it meaningless, and men older than the male equivalent of nubile faintly ridiculous. And the young men whose only prowess is football, who find the women watching the dance not being bored as women on the touchline tend to become are going to feel challenged.

But who says we have to be bound by the surges of testosterone like the mad sheep?

Penny


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Acorn4
Date: 12 Apr 09 - 10:01 AM

So the menopausal accountants must carry on flying the flag for the moment?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 12 Apr 09 - 11:58 AM

My first ever exposure to Morris was in Charlottesville Virginia Albemarle Morris Men in late 1990's. I thought it was wonderful, not weird and not quaint.

My next experience was New Years eve 2002 I came upon the same group on the downtown mall in Charlottesville. My soon to be husband (he is English) was with me. He told me about the Rochester Sweeps. And we went in 2003 less than a month after I moved to UK.

Totally smitten. If I did not have arthritis and wasn't a life long clutz I would join a side.

Sucks that in this country the govmint can pressure schools and local councils to put progammes in place that encourage appreciation of cultures and folk traditions that are not of this country and ignore its own.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 12 Apr 09 - 06:34 PM

""On the other hand, Don, I remember we did folk dancing at Primary School and I hated it because you had to hold hands with GIRLS _UGGH!""

Long time passing Acorn4.

As a school caretaker and playground supervisor at a primary school until retirement in 2006, I can assure you that both boys and girls of seven or more years are fighting for the attentions of the most attractive members of the opposite gender.

IT AIN'T LIKE IT WAS WHEN WE WERE KIDS!



""Sucks that in this country the govmint can pressure schools and local councils to put progammes in place that encourage appreciation of cultures and folk traditions that are not of this country and ignore its own.""

Tam, you are absolutely right! The only culture that is actively ignored in schools, by govmint decree, is the indigenous one.

It is to our eternal shame, that we allow them to do so.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Acorn4
Date: 12 Apr 09 - 07:34 PM

Don,

As a Primary teacher who retired about the same time that you did, you're spot on. Whatever happened to childhood?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 07:55 AM

""Whatever happened to childhood?""

TELEVISION!

Potentially the worlds greatest teaching and learning aid.

In actuality the worlds most abysmal babysitter.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Acorn4
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 10:02 AM

Little story to illustrate your point, Don.

Two lads in my year 4 class were writing a story on the classroom computer; one of them came up to me and said:-

"Please, Sir, How do you spell 'but'?"

"Great", I thought, "he's started to join sentences up."

I read what they'd come up with after half an hour:-

"Me and Daniel and Wayne was playing. We was turned into three Ninjas. I said hey lets go out and kick some but!"

Maybe "Mutant Ninja Morris Dancers" are called for.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Penny S.
Date: 14 Apr 09 - 04:18 AM

Iffy writing round my way tends to be blood and guts, Y4 and Y6. But girls' dancing is a bit out of age group, influenced apparently by our nationally known local dance school.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Acorn4
Date: 14 Apr 09 - 09:52 AM

mmm... I noticed these dance routines that the girls always wanted to do at the end of term concert always involved a lot of pointing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 Apr 09 - 10:32 AM

Just a thought. Morris dance now seems to be quartered into three seperate halves, to quote someone who's maths are as good as mine...

There is and always has been Cotswold, Border, North West Processional, North West Clog, Longsword, Rapper, Molly etc. It is generalt Cotswold that people see and relate to btw - The whites and hankies. There is yet another form that has coined the phrase 'Morris'; The girls 'shaker Morris' style. Very competitive and the almost exclusive domain of pre-pubescent girls. I wonder at times if people not in the know get the two confused in their minds and imagine bearded, be-beerbellied man in shiny skirts waving paper shakers? Enough to put you off your pint of old scroggins's nadger nurdler!

Just another thing - I play for Abram Morris every June. We sometimes get the mikey taken by local youths trying to impress others but more often than not we get some wanting to join in:-) I realy enjoy the 'craic' with the youths and they seem genuinely interested as long as they are not seen by their peers!

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Bloke from Poole
Date: 15 Apr 09 - 07:24 AM

"The girls 'shaker Morris' style" tends to be a more Northern activity, although I don't know its spread, and as DeG says seems to be mainly young women and girls, and highly competitive from what I've heard.

It's official name, AFAIK, is Carnival Morris. It seems to keep a low profile outside of its home areas.

It is similar in style to US Majorette activities, and hence is often called "Fluffy" Morris - although usually, I suspect, from a safe distance.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Acorn4
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 07:18 AM

Problems with anon posting again!

If there is a recruitment problem for Morris Dancing in general, perhaps we could revive the old English tradition of impressment.

This could be done by either just shoving a stick in someone's hand accompanied by generally threatening demeanor, or by some kind of devious device such as the old "King's Shilling", whereby an unsuspecting victim is treated to a pint at the bottom of which is a pound coin, the acceptance of which implies that you have enrolled in the Morris side.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Acorn4
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 10:47 AM

...or, perhaps even introduce it as a kind of reintroduction of national service to channel the aggressions of yoof into bashing sticks and so on...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 03 May 09 - 02:57 PM

Don - Europe or our Politicians?

Had a long break from Mudcat to catch up on other things so apols for delay in replying.

Basically - good point about our own (British) politicians undermining English culture and tradition.

I'm reminded of the Death of the British Pub stories and how, despite pleas from defenders of trad culture along side customers and owners of course; New Labour is inflicting more and more pressure to threaten pubs.

Sinister? I think so - a good example of "Let it Happen" doctrine so they can destroy the pub idea without getting the blame.

Why? Thinking back, I seem to remember quite early on in the Blair era mumblings from politicians close to him about getting rid of pubs, replacing them with a 'more controlable' cafe culture.

Perhaps we're seeing this project in advance stages of fruition. So perhaps also, with European elections coming very soon, Brewers, Publicans, Customers CAMRA and all other pub supporters should ask ALL the British Poitical Parties standing to declare allegence to The British Pub.

I can imagine the dribble that New Labour might produce to avoid that 100% support that I imagine every other party, across the spectrum, would give wholeheartedly.

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 May 09 - 03:09 PM

New Labour is guilty of much, I should know I am a member of the Party, but the closure of pubs and the amalgamation of breweries started a long time ago. That was why CAMRA was invented in the 60's?

It has been a natural progression of trans-national capitalism to try to make all the beer in a few places and only sell it from places that made lots of pubs.

It says something for the progress of technology that Micro Breweries are returning to the practice of making small amounts of quality beer.

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 03 May 09 - 06:02 PM

""I seem to remember quite early on in the Blair era mumblings from politicians close to him about getting rid of pubs, replacing them with a 'more controlable' cafe culture.""

Unfortunately everything New Labour have done in relation to alcohol abuse has tended toward suppression of the traditional local, the landlord of which cannot generally purchase his stock at the price at which supermarkets SELL it, and, far from a controllable cafe society, we now have a night club binge drinking society policed mainly by mercenary hard men whose job is to toss them out when they're full, or broke, and dump them in the laps of a hard working police force.

New labour introduced unlimited drinking hours, allowing nightclubs to bloom like mushrooms, and now that the streets are full of aggressive drunks in the early hours every weekend, the stupid bastards blame local publicans, and cheap supermarket booze, and try to legislate or tax them out of business.

Any publican who regularly turns out disorderly drunks onto the street, is liable to have his licence objected to, and be closed down by the authorities.

NOT SO the nightclubs, all of which top up their customers to the max, then toss 'em out in the street to be dealt with at the taxpayers' expense.

I am beginning to think that Al Qaeda is actually based in the cabinet room at number 10 Downing Street.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 04 May 09 - 03:23 AM

Don, don't understate your case.

And by the by as daft as Morris can be I don't think it is or ever has been a joke but it can be taken too seriously

L in C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 04 May 09 - 04:07 AM

100


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a jok
From: Acorn4
Date: 04 May 09 - 09:54 AM

Been Upton Festival this weekend, and the length of the procession was very strong evidence that Morris is alive and well.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When did morris dancing become a joke?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 04 May 09 - 01:56 PM

BBC lunctime News today ran a bit on Sweeps, and gave Morris quite a serious comment and a rather positive approving slant.

Perhaps the cycle is heading toward a resurgence of popularity.

Don T


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