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Folklore: border morris

GUEST 02 Sep 14 - 03:23 AM
GUEST 02 Sep 14 - 03:45 AM
Les in Chorlton 02 Sep 14 - 04:19 AM
Ged Fox 02 Sep 14 - 07:31 AM
GUEST, topsie 02 Sep 14 - 07:46 AM
GUEST,Dave Hunt 02 Sep 14 - 09:45 AM
bubblyrat 02 Sep 14 - 11:38 AM
Tradsinger 02 Sep 14 - 11:46 AM
Les in Chorlton 02 Sep 14 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,leeneia 02 Sep 14 - 12:32 PM
JP2 02 Sep 14 - 03:06 PM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 04:45 AM
GUEST,PeterC 03 Sep 14 - 05:12 AM
Manitas_at_home 03 Sep 14 - 05:51 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 06:02 AM
GUEST 03 Sep 14 - 06:15 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 06:24 AM
Ged Fox 03 Sep 14 - 07:50 AM
GUEST, topsie 03 Sep 14 - 08:39 AM
billybob 03 Sep 14 - 08:59 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 09:30 AM
GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery. 03 Sep 14 - 10:52 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,Henry Piper Of Ottery 03 Sep 14 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,Derrick 03 Sep 14 - 11:41 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 01:14 PM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 01:27 PM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 01:32 PM
GUEST,Derrick 03 Sep 14 - 02:09 PM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 02:21 PM
GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery 03 Sep 14 - 02:52 PM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 03:05 PM
selby 03 Sep 14 - 03:09 PM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 03:28 PM
GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery 03 Sep 14 - 03:32 PM
GUEST,Derrick 03 Sep 14 - 03:43 PM
Tradsinger 03 Sep 14 - 03:52 PM
GUEST, topsie 03 Sep 14 - 04:25 PM
selby 03 Sep 14 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,Derrick 03 Sep 14 - 05:41 PM
Les in Chorlton 04 Sep 14 - 04:05 AM
GUEST, topsie 04 Sep 14 - 04:16 AM
GUEST,Derrick 04 Sep 14 - 04:39 AM
GUEST,Tufty the Red Squirrel. 04 Sep 14 - 05:10 AM
Rumncoke 04 Sep 14 - 06:35 PM
GUEST 05 Sep 14 - 12:18 AM
Mr Red 05 Sep 14 - 03:16 AM
bubblyrat 05 Sep 14 - 08:15 AM
GUEST,Squeezer 05 Sep 14 - 08:44 AM
RTim 05 Sep 14 - 10:48 AM
GUEST,Morris-ey 05 Sep 14 - 06:58 PM
Les in Chorlton 06 Sep 14 - 04:47 AM
GUEST,Derrick 06 Sep 14 - 05:10 AM
Les in Chorlton 06 Sep 14 - 06:18 AM
GUEST,Derrick 06 Sep 14 - 12:08 PM
Les in Chorlton 06 Sep 14 - 12:22 PM
GUEST,Morris-ey 06 Sep 14 - 12:45 PM
Les in Chorlton 06 Sep 14 - 12:53 PM
Les in Chorlton 06 Sep 14 - 12:55 PM
Les in Chorlton 07 Sep 14 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,Morris-ey 07 Sep 14 - 09:53 AM
Les in Chorlton 07 Sep 14 - 01:39 PM
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Subject: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 03:23 AM

There seems to be an explosion of border morris, with teams popping up all oover the place. Carnivalesque, some teams are much better at dressing up than dancing? Whats the appeal?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 03:45 AM

You answered your own question - a lot of shouting and dressing up without worrying too much about the dancing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 04:19 AM

And a fair degree of make believe about its origins


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Ged Fox
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 07:31 AM

I was watching a border morris side on Dartmoor (no prizes for guessing who they were) a couple of weeks ago. Lots of dressing up, not much shouting, plenty of lively dancing and clashing of sticks, good music, good mix of ages.

Obviously the performers were having a rattling good time, and their enthusiasm communicated itself to the audience, who all joined in the joining in bits. My grandchildren loved it.

Far more appealing to watch or be part of than a bunch of grandads waving their hankies about.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 07:46 AM

I never did get the hang of yelling and dancing at the same time.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Dave Hunt
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 09:45 AM

Les...please clarify 'And a fair degree of make believe about its origins'


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: bubblyrat
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 11:38 AM

I play percussion and prick balloons ( for Pop ! Goes The Weasel !!) for a Border ( Death Before Cotswold ) side from Winchcombe in Gloucestershire , and believe me a lot of hard work,imaginative choreography , and musicianship go into our performances .Yes,there are points where yelling and noisy stick-clashing, not to mention rude and suggestive posturing ,have a part to play but generally I think that "Happenstance" is a well-balanced (except for me !) and,as far as I know "tradional" Border Morris side. If not, never mind ,we'll keep on doing it anyway , so there !


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Tradsinger
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 11:46 AM

The bunch of grandads waving their hankies about were once young and vigorous and they communicated their joy at the dancing to the audience in the same way as today's Border Morris.

I suspect Les is referring to the so-called "pagan" origins of Border Morris. We all know that that is a load of rubbish, but if people want to use it as an advertising gimmick, then who's to stop them.

Border Morris appeals because it is easy to learn and noisy to perform. Cotswold Morris requires a longer apprenticeship and for a variety of reasons it is not getting enough youngsters to join.

Wait 40 years and see what people say about aging Border Morris dancers, trying to relive their youth!

(By the way, I play for a Border side and a Cotswold side, with equal pleasure and satisfaction.)

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 11:50 AM

Les...please clarify .........

I guess I am refering to the blackface issue - clearly rooted on Blackface Minstrelsy - but rarely if ever accepted as such


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 12:32 PM

Good for you, Bubblyrat. Keep up the good work.

Border morris: music, costumes, dancing, getting out of the house, and the chance to meet girls. What's not to like?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: JP2
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 03:06 PM

Don't rise to the bait Dave,Les is about to mount his Hobbyhorse!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 04:45 AM

You are probably correct JP2. I have a number and this is one.

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 05:12 AM

No, everyone knows Border was John Kirkpatrick's second attempt to invent morris dancing. The first time in 1970 he did not get it quite right, so he had another go at it!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 05:51 AM

"Wait 40 years and see what people say about aging Border Morris dancers"

From what I've seen most Border Morris dancers are already old and, indeed, seem only to have taken it up in middle age. Young people seem to be taking up rapper and Cotswold.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 06:02 AM

Hobbyhorse! Nice one JP2 - I missed that


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 06:15 AM

Aw,c'mon Les,keep up,keep up!

You'll be doing Women's Teams at Saddleworth next!

JP2.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 06:24 AM

Wow, dangerous words if ever I saw them


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Ged Fox
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 07:50 AM

Ha - I've nothing against grandads, being one myself, but the original question was "Wot's the appeal?"

A team of mixed ages (and sexes) is likely to appeal to more people than one of more homogeneous composition. Banging sticks are more immediately appealing than wavy handkerchiefs (even if the latter may hold more interest for the experienced morris dancer.)

The occasion I described above was the first occasion on which my grandchildren had seen morris dancing, and they were instantly enthralled by it. A set of Cotswold style dances, however skilled the dancers, would probably have struck them as quaint or strange - interesting but alien.

The question I now face is "where do I find a Morris side that is not drinking based - i.e. one which under 18s can join as equals with their grandparents?"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 08:39 AM

At the risk of offering a gender stereotype, I would suggest a women's side would be a better bet. Yes, I know that many female Morris people drink pints along with the men, but I also recall being out with several sides when the landlord of a pub we were dancing at came out with jugs of ale for the performers. One of the 'ladies' sides went into a little huddle, and then sent a spokesperson to the landlord to ask if they could have half-pints of shandy.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: billybob
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 08:59 AM

When I danced with " Mandrake" morris, we all, mostly, drank Guiness! Just saying...

wendy x


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 09:30 AM

Just check out Sisters in Arms Rapper - they take no prisoners


Here


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery.
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 10:52 AM

As one of the three founding members of Motley Morris from Dartford in kent, our original intention was to provide a contrast to the then ubiquitous Cotswold style, and all our original dozen or so dances were based on such information as was available from collected notations on the dances of Shropshire, Herefordshire and nearby, each one was based on at least one distinctive collected figure, and in the case of a couple of the dances it was possible to recreate more or less complete dances from the information.
I had a conversation with John Kirkpatrick about our intentions when he was performing at the Dartford Folk Club at this time as he had recently formed the Shropshire Bedlams, and received helpful advice and encouragement from him.
We were all aware that there was an obvious connection with black face minstrelsy, and chose not to stress the point, merely explaining the black faces as a theatrical disguise. we also did not fall into the trap of claiming "Pagan ritual authority" for our dancing, the side in fact contained both committed Christians, and people of what might be called "Neo Paganist" belief's and of no particular beliefs at all,
We all felt that whilst we were offering a new slant on the morris, and whilst it was to a great extent a modern creation. it was firmly rooted in the tradition, but based on a less well documented regional version of the Genre.
Unfortunately it seems that todays generation of "Border" Dancers have very little connection to or even knowledge of what there claiming to dance, it seems to consist, in the main, of dances choreographed in a style that has little to do with what is known of Border Morris as danced in the 19th century, coupled with lots of shrieking, outlandish costumes and fanciful stories about ancient Pagan Rites, None of which have any basis in fact, and to a large extent seems to have degenerated into a competition to see who can be the most grotesque. With very few exceptions it tends to be danced no very well, as the inherent simplicity of the dances makes them a hiding place for not very skilled dancers, Unlike Cotswold which requires a great deal of practice and skill.

I have not been involved in Morris for some years now, but still enjoy seeing it danced well whatever the style, and I have seen Motley Dancing in the last few years, and am gratified to see that their dances still have a distinct resemblance to the original repertoire put together all those years ago by Myself, Dave Masterson and Alan Austen.
As for the average age of Morris Dancers, even when I started Dancing Cotswold with Hartley Morris many years ago, it was difficult to get youngsters involved, and I guess it will always be a older mans (Persons !!) sport.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 10:56 AM

We were all aware that there was an obvious connection with black face minstrelsy, and chose not to stress the point,

Why?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Henry Piper Of Ottery
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 11:18 AM

Because we saw No reason to antagonise The Political correctness movement, who had already begun to comment adversely on the "Blacking up " we were attempting to provide variety by interpreting and performing a less well known part of the morris tradition , not to explain or comment on their origins,
Having said that, if anybody asked we were always quite happy to acknowledge the minstrelsy influence.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 11:41 AM

Whilst minstrely may have had some influence I suspect a less racist source for blacking up.
In days gone by begging was frowned upon socialy.
Morris has been used as a way of making money for drink and in the days before welfare as a way of raising money to feed families during
times when work was short for any reason.
Dancers would have disguised themselves to hide the shame of begging from their neighbours.
In Cornwall at certain times of year "geeze dancers" appeared so called because they wore disguise when dancing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 01:14 PM

Well Henry, sounds like Cat out of Bag time to me. 19C Border Morris was deeply influenced by Minstrelsey.

From an article in ED&S:
The piece goes on to discuss the incorporation of blacking up into "traditional" events: "There would seem to be little doubt that the black faces of the traditional morris dance groups of the Welsh Border counties were at least influenced by minstrelsy. The occasional use of banjoes, bones and tambourines in these morris dances cannot be mere coincidence."

They dance dances they have made up, to tunes that were almost certainly never used for morris and on instruments sometimes invented in the 20C. They wear costumes sometimes unrelated to the custom they claim to be reviving. But they hang on to the bit of tradition that has one foot in 19C music hall racism.

To be fair many sides in The Border Tradition - Bollin here in Manchester - go and see them they are brilliant - use a range of colour on their faces

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 01:27 PM

Hi Derrick,

"Dancers would have disguised themselves to hide the shame of begging from their neighbours"

Intrestin - any evidence?

Same article in ED&S
"There are references to people blacking up as a form of disguise in popular custom, although in Heaney and Forrest's book 'Annals of Early Morris', there is only one reference to black-faced morris dancers in the period they studied (up to 1750), and that is from the mid-sixteenth century."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 01:32 PM

As for the origins of The Britannia Coconut Dancers:

Subject: RE: Bacup Nuters and Racism
From: Lynn W - PM
Date: 24 Apr 14 - 09:21 PM

There are many references in nineteenth century newspapers to "cocoa nut" dances being performed as part of theatrical or musical entertainments. There are references to the performers being blacked up and using the coconuts as castanets. I believe the original ones were intended as copies of East Indies dances but I don't have the reference for that to hand at the moment. Here is an extract from Home News section of the Bradford Observer November 22 1838-
"The Chiarini Family, in their admirable Cocoa-Nut Dance, seem likely to become as popular here as they were at Halifax. The following is copied from the Halifax paper. "The Cocoa-Nut Dance has now been performed four weeks, and it appears likely to run another four - it is a most decided hit. At every street corner in Halifax, and in every bye lane in the country, young men and children may be observed imitating the grotesque features of the Cocoa-Nut Ballet, and it is ten to one that out of 20 lads whom you meet whistling in the streets, 19 have the Cocoa-Nut tune in their mouths.""

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 02:09 PM

My suggestions are based on programs about the regimes of the workhouses,people were treated harshly to make work more attractive than living on the parish.
Because the parish had to support the poor they saw them as parasites.   
The same attitude was directed to begging,because Morris Dance was not regarded as proper work that was seen as begging.
Your reference to blacking up before 1750 shows it happened long
before the black minstrel shows.
That form of entertainment was an American idea which came about when
Slave based music became fashionable but unacceptable on the stage.
The way round it was for white artists to black up and perform it instead.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 02:21 PM

Hi Derrick,

I don't know how many sides Sharp saw I guess it was between 50 and 100 - and only one in black face, and that 150 years before. Not much evidence for black face Morris then?

Blackface Minstrelsy clearly affected Morris - why don't they say so?

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 02:52 PM

I think the phrase "19th C music hall racism" is a bit unfair,
Many of the original touring minstrel shows were genuine black performers, several troupes came to England and were extremely popular. I can see no reason why white performers might not copy the black artists by blacking up in order to cash in on a popular music trend, patronising possibly, but not necessarily deliberately racist ( although doubtless there were some bigots who used the opportunity to mock the black artists)
I can also imagine the dancers in the border villages utilising some of the tunes, instruments and black face makeup of this extremely popular entertainment to liven up their otherwise rather simple dance routines.
I have never denied this connection, indeed it seems obvious if you know anything about the tremendous popularity of minstrel shows and there effect on the mainstream popular music of the time.
During my time with Motley Morris we were quite happy to explain this to anyone who asked for information However we saw no reason for giving the rather boring history and geography lesson about every dance, so beloved of Cotswold sides so saw no reason to lecture our audience about what we did, but I repeat The information was freely given to those who enquired.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 03:05 PM

Ok Henry, if you have decided Blackface minstrelsy was not racist I simply cannot agree.

"I have never denied this connection, indeed it seems obvious if you know anything about the tremendous popularity of minstrel shows and there effect on the mainstream popular music of the time."

Spot on from what I have read.

I will say again:
They dance dances they have made up, to tunes that were almost certainly never used for morris and on instruments sometimes invented in the 20C. They wear costumes sometimes unrelated to the custom they claim to be reviving. But they hang on to the bit of tradition that has one foot in 19C music hall racism.

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: selby
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 03:09 PM

Would the dancers doing these dances know the word racist?

Whatever peg you hang your hat on these people where trying to make a bit of extra cash and usually in winter when rural work was scarce.
Keith


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 03:28 PM

Probably not. In the 19C we were benifitng on a global scale from the racist colonial exploitation of millions of people but that's another discussion.

The current issue is this: Their is basically no history of blackface Morris until Blackface Minstrelsy.

If sides that blackup don't know that they should and they should choose another or lots of colours - as many sides have.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 03:32 PM

Les.
I agree with you in much of what you say, but as Keith says above in terms of the times that we are talking of none of these people would recognise the Word racism there attitudes and language were of there time, and as we are separated by mor than a century its difficult to guess what the attitude of the man on the Clapham omnibus or his equivalent towards black people was. BUT, I don't think that just because modern Border style dancers choose to retain the genres most distinctive feature, IE a black face that gives you the right to imply that they are all closet racists. its a fact when the dances were collected the dancers wore black faces and if you are going to give an accurate portrayal of what they did you have accept that. You don't have to accept any negative stereotyping that may or may not have gone with it,

As I have said all I have to say, and don't wish this thread to descend into an exchange of vitriol I shall withdraw !!   I respect your views, I think you over exaggerate your case, but I have enjoyed the exchange of views.
Regards Henry Piper.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 03:43 PM

By your standards of more than a century later you are right in what you say about minstrel shows ,I wonder what people will say about your attitudes 150 years further on.
I wonder why what we call Cotswold Morris today never took up the minstrel influence if that indeed was led to blacking up.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Tradsinger
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 03:52 PM

There is a basic difference between Border and Cotswold (and probably other forms) of Morris. Cotswold was carefully rehearsed leading up to Whitsun events, village sides had repertoires of up to 25 dances, and in many cases it was a status symbol within a village side to be a member of the Morris. There was rivalry and there were competitions between Cotswold sides.

Border Morris was much more casual. I am not aware that anyone has bottomed out the research but I have the impression that it was something put together around the pub table, using dances figures, steps and tunes they were familiar with. Their performance would be interspersed with carols, broom or step dances to form a travelling road show of which their (usually) one Morris dance was one item. Of course it was influenced and possibly modelled on blackface minstrelry and a good Christmas money spinner, as others have said on this thread.

But that was then and now is now. We make of our traditions what we will but I think that you have a better idea of where you are going if you have a clear idea of where you have come from.

Changing subject - I think the point made about the problem of attracting youngsters into what is seen as an adult drinking club is a good one. We should think harder about non-alcohol venues for some of our outings.

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 04:25 PM

"They dance dances they have made up, to tunes that were almost certainly never used for morris and on instruments sometimes invented in the 20C. They wear costumes sometimes unrelated to the custom they claim to be reviving" - two sentences that contain an obvious contradiction.
If they make up the dances, use non-morris tunes, and design the costumes themselves, why are you assuming that they "claim to be reviving" a custom. In many cases I suspect that they have seen other contemporary sides and decided to produce a variation on the dances that attract them now. They are not "reviving" anything. They are just copying and/or elaborating on a twenty-first-century performance.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: selby
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 05:22 PM

one of the reasons for black faces is no one knows who you are,if a black person danced border morris and painted his face white would he be a racist?
Keith


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 05:41 PM

Border Morris using instruments invented in the 20th century.
Hmm I wonder where that leaves Cotswold sides using melodeons and concertinas?
The history of Morris talks of morris dancing as early as the 1400's
When they probably used pipe and tabour.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 04:05 AM

All true Derrick


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 04:16 AM

Are some of you confusing Morris dancers with historical re-enactment societies?
All the earlier dances, tunes and instruments must have been invented by somebody at some time.
Today's dancers are not dancing in the fourteenth century, or the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, or even the twentieth century. They are dancing now. Why shouldn't they devise new figures and use modern instruments and tunes?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 04:39 AM

Nicely put Topsie,the reference to Border sides using modern instruments seems to be used to imply that it makes them somehow an impure and degenerate form.
My question was does the use of Melodeons etc by a Cotswold side make them impure also?
Is there a cut off date before which whatever instruments were in use were considered traditional?
.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Tufty the Red Squirrel.
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 05:10 AM

The border that we are tending to see popping up all over the place at the moment seems to have more in common with revival teams like the Flag Crackers and Plum Jerkum (apologies to those I've missed out) in their kit (black rag coat and top hat compulsory + gimmick) and general approach (hey, we're Pagans)- than with the border teams as they existed of old. It is indeed fun for all and is currently so popular that in the North West it is taking over from the traditional dance of the area - some NW teams are very rocky indeed at the moment - as the thing to do. Soon all we'll have is Stone the Thieving Clerical Powder Crackers type revival border style dance in the country and clogs will have joined the fat old men waving hankies lying unloved and forgotten in the waste bin of un-trendy traditional dance, modern border is the grey squirrel in the folk dance forest. I know that all the participants are doing this for pleasure and as a hobby, but shouldn't we feel som responsibility towards safeguarding regional tradition before we re-write the books?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Rumncoke
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 06:35 PM

The problem is that now a days there is this concept of preservation, but back in the day there was a desire for novelty - describing a dance troupe as 'original' meant that is was new and different, not seen before figures, costumes in different colours to last year. People did not want the same old same old from pre Victorian village customs, they wanted new and dynamic spectacle.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 12:18 AM

Border morris teams get invited to goth and rock and goth festivals these days because of their attire. Border seems to be a street interpretation of morris, taking it away from rural and village roots?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Mr Red
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 03:16 AM

As Martin Carthy says about Folk Song, but I am sure he would say it of Morris.

"You can do anything with Morris, anything, and it will survive. Except ignore it"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: bubblyrat
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 08:15 AM

Difficult question, the one about instruments.My ,or rather "Tradsinger's" side has a Shawm-player and a traditional "rope tension" vellum-skinned drummer ( me!) and a pipe-and-tabor player (Tradsinger ,but he uses it for Cotswold !) but I confess to having doubts about the authenticity of the 5-string banjo ,the alto-sax ,or ,indeed,the melodeon ,and piano-accordion which , whilst entirely welcome and acceptable ,could hardly be considered "traditional " .For me , the use of the trombone is ABOMINABLE ! !


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Squeezer
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 08:44 AM

Surely there's no such thing as "traditional instruments" in Cotswold, in the sense that 100 or 200 years ago dance musicians didn't deliberately restrict themselves to certain instruments and avoided others. No doubt, like the parish bands that played in the west gallery (they must have been the same people playing on the village green on Saturday and in church on Sunday) they used whatever they had. If someone had a trombone or banjo I'm sure they would have been in there. To my mind, once you decide that some instruments are "authentic" while others aren't, you are doing historical re-enactment and to be consistent dancers and musicians should perhaps be in appropriate costume.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: RTim
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 10:48 AM

The "Traditional" instrument of Cotswold Morris was - The Pipe and Tabor" - fiddles came in later to be followed even later my the Melodeon.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 06:58 PM

I would bet good money that almost none of those who dance border would have any idea what Blackface Minstrely was, when it was, who did it, and why. Nor would a vanishingly tiny proportion of the population - and the vast majority of those would be white people taking offence on behalf of minorities who also don't know and care less.

This accusation, that appears only here and sometimes on the MDDL list, is completely fatuous since it assumes some esoteric historical knowledge and racist intent. Neither is likely.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 04:47 AM

Intrestin points you make Morris-ey - sounds like you dance

"And something else that I said later on in the same thread:

'Finally, a few people have said that it would be interesting to hear from a black person what they feel about all of this. Well, the article from EDS that I quoted earlier interviewed several people about the practice, including a dance caller named Nigel Hogg. This is what he had to say:

"I have watched many different dance groups around the country, and on certain occasions I have seen groups black up to perform. As a mixed race man I do find this tradition offensive because I see it as a parody mocking people of colour. I would imagine that the people who perform these dances are not racists, and on some levels the people involved have not even though about the implications these dances might have to people of colour." '

The vast majority of English People know little or nothing of morris and care even less. The vast majority of Black People are probably in the same position and would be indifferent to white people blacking up. But some feel uncomfortable and some are offended.

Some respondents on here (Mudcat) have said it's only a few, which of course - we don't know, and anyway they don't care. So, this is people putting on entertainment in a public place, they don't know how many people they offend and they don't care.

Part of the problem is the invented history and purpose that Morris has created for itself

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 05:10 AM

Some people find alcohol offensive should the country go tetotal to cater for their offence?
Some Moslems believe women should be totaly covered should the burka be introduced to cater for them?
The majority of people believe its no one elses business what they do within reason, who's right Les?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 06:18 AM

Interstin points again Derrick ............

Multiculturalism, a much abused and misunderstood concept, is I think, an attempt to reflect on the kinds of issues you raise so that we can live with the Irish, whom some English people have treated dreadfully, the Welsh, ditto and all the other people who trust us enough to live here.

I go to parties, generally thrown by 'white Brits' and attended by UK Muslims and loads of other people from various countries and faiths.

We drink a lot and the Muslims and some of others don't. We have a good time and a common cause helps us with our differences and it helps us to forge aliances for a common purpose. We also enjoy each others company.

Scruffy youths pass me in the street with most of their faces covered by huddies - such that no one is allowed in local bars with a hud up. A small minority of women wear the Burka - I try to smile at them as an act of friendship and minor resistance.

Some Border Morris Black up and it probably matters about as much.

However, some people in Morris circles (!) say the 'History of The Morris' is an important part of our culture. Well, if that is so it has to be an honest history not the usual fictional stuff we find on most Morris websites.

And so back to Blackface. Its roots are in 19C Music Hall. Lets be honest and say so. Dances can green up, red up blue up and if anybody asks they can explain why the have decided to do that in the same way the might explain why "They dance dances they have made up, to tunes that were almost certainly never used for morris and on instruments sometimes invented in the 20C. They wear costumes sometimes unrelated to the custom they claim to be reviving".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 12:08 PM

Les you said some time back that You Could only find one reference to diguise and black face morris prior to 1750.
The wikepedia page on border morris seems to have found several references prior to that date both in Britain and Europe. The piece seems   be balanced as it refers to the minstrel theory as well.
Having read it I think it shows that the jury is still out on the matter.
No doubt supporters of both sides will read the article to support their preffered view.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 12:22 PM

Thanka Derrick - I will check it out


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 12:45 PM

Les: "And so back to Blackface. Its roots are in 19C Music Hall. Lets be honest and say so. "

As I said above I doubt any blacked-up morris sides would know or accept that. Your saying it does not make it so.

Also, people do not cause offence, people choose to take offence and that is their problem.

Whatever is legal is OK by me.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 12:53 PM

I think this is the wiki link that Derrick refers to:

I have only read it once and found it difficult to reach any kind of conclusion. I have never doubted the practice of some kind of blackface in theatrical and folk customs and that is described here. Some confusion arrises when morris, mumming, begging and so on are desciribed without clear differentiation.

I guess we could all cherry pick what we want from the wiki page, remembering that it is wiki - some of wich is reasonably sound evidence and some is part of the hear say that passes around Morris circles.

I would challenge anyone to come to any clear conclusion other than blackface in some form has a long history - even then with a tenuous connection with Morris and that its prescence becomes much clearer after the influence of Blackface Minstrelsey in Music Hall

Bes wishes and thanks to Derrick for the link


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 12:55 PM

Wiki on Border Morris

Sorry Here


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 06:22 AM

Hi Morris ey,

I am surprised at your claim that Border dancers don't know about the origins of what they are doing. I have danced with 2 sides and on and off we discussed what our origins might have been. Here is the last side I danced with:


Gorton Morrismen


And some History

Maybe not all dancers would be familiar with the history but don't the Squire and other organisers know quite a bit?

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 09:53 AM

We are taliking specifically about blackface border, so I maintain that most will never have heard of your Blackface Minstrelsey.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: border morris
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 01:39 PM

Ok, if that's what you have found I cannot doubt what you say. Just seems most unlike the many Morris people from all brands of Morris that I have known over 50 years


Best wishes


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