To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
35 messages

EFDSS - should I join?

26 Feb 02 - 03:28 AM (#658030)
Subject: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Abuwood

I was wondering how many Mudcatters are members of the Ehglish Folk Dance and Song Society? I know the Shellbacks are in it as a group but I would like to hear from individuals who may be members to hear a good reason for parting with my 30 odd quid? I was wondering whether this would be the correct forum for challenging the current law about singing in pubs (see you can't sing here thread). I will be interested to hear your comments.

26 Feb 02 - 04:09 AM (#658035)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: GUEST,Alio

Hi Ali! Thanks for a brilliant weekend - my voice still hasn't returned properly! We're part of EFDSS as a Festival,(and when I used to run the Cross Keys Folk Club I made us members), but not as individuals, and I don't know of anyone round us who is. May be worth pursuing re. the law as the Wagon Inn has recently had a visit about the folk club, so there will be many who are interested in this subject. Ali

26 Feb 02 - 04:50 AM (#658044)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: GUEST,Jim

I was a member for a couple of years. My personal view is that it's only worth it if you live in, or near London.

The main benefit of joining is having access to the Vaughan Williams library, and the various events at Cecil Sharp House.

If you live in the north, this isn't practical and all you'll get is the annual 'academic' Folk Music Journal and a sometimes interesting, but fairly rubbishy quarterly magazine. £30 is a LOT for those (especially if you have a local library that gets them)

Of course, joining as a club or festival is a different matter entirely.


26 Feb 02 - 04:52 AM (#658045)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: alanww

I am an individual member Ali and receive the magazine on a regular basis but I wouldn't call myself an active member! I joined as I thought that I should do my small bit to help support the society which had as its aim the keeping of English traditions alive. [I am a member of CAMRA too!]

I believe they are involved in the PEL campaign but I belive most of its activity is down in London and I haven't kept a close eye on it. Perhaps Micca and Gervase et al could update us on EFDSS's actions?

Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules ...!"

26 Feb 02 - 05:10 AM (#658046)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: greg stephens

I think everyone should join, even if you havent time to get involved and dont use the library. Even if you've never set foot in the library, if you've ever taken any enjoyment in life from the folk scene( and i expect you have,or you wouldnt be mudcatting) you'll have been enjoying things that have been helped to happen by that library. Anybody can slag off the EFDSS, but the fact is its the only EFDSS we've got. And if it doen't represent our views in theway we'ld like, we've only ourselves to blame!

26 Feb 02 - 05:56 AM (#658057)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Dave Bryant

I have been a member for over 35 years. These days I'm not a very active member - think I probably suffered Burn-out from the 70's when I was. During that time, I was on the National Executive (Board of Directors for a charity) as well as many committees and sub-committees.

EFDSS (as it's title seems to indicate) has always been acused of being more concerned with dance than song. Many years ago, Lawrence Heath (in his excellent BORFOLK cartoon strip) renamed "EFDSS" to "DEAFAS" - Dance Earnestly And forget all About Song. While I agree that there is a bias towards dance, this is not as great as might be expected considering the large majority of dancers in the membership. I should point out that I am primarily a singer - as anyone who has partnered me in a Ceilidh will testify !

The large number of "Dance" members is not so surprising, dancing needs organisation, clubs etc, whereas a singer can float around clubs and sessions and even sing on his/her own in pub or other gigs.

The magazine (English Dance and Song), the Annual Folk Journal, and the library at CSH are all worthwhile perks of being a member. I agree that if you're far from London that the library may not be very accessible, but even I living in the suburbs, have to make a special journey up to town to use it.

There are local branches of the EFDSS all over the country, some more active than others, but if your local branch is very dynamic, get in there and do something about it.

The EFDSS is what you make of it - YES I do recommend you to join.

26 Feb 02 - 05:58 AM (#658059)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Ringer

I agree with greg: ask not what the EFDSS can do for you, rather ask what you can do for the EFDSS.

Having said that, my view is that it's a bit dance-oriented, but that's OK by me, 'cos dance is equally as important to me as song (ish).

26 Feb 02 - 06:31 AM (#658067)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?

If you enjoy pedantic (and frankly pathetic) arguements as to whether women should be allowed to dance Morris, and such like, then the EFDSS is the place for you.

If you simply happen to enjoy singing folk songs, then just get on with it and save yourself £27.

26 Feb 02 - 06:39 AM (#658072)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: greg stephens

well,guest, if you dont enjoy pedantic and pathetic arguments why are you mudcatting?

26 Feb 02 - 07:24 AM (#658081)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?

What does EFDSS actually do?

26 Feb 02 - 07:24 AM (#658082)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Pied Piper

People I new in the 80's used to abbreviate the acrenim to "SS", I can't think why.

26 Feb 02 - 07:26 AM (#658084)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?

What does EFDSS actually do?

It argues amongst itself, mostly

26 Feb 02 - 07:36 AM (#658092)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?

Pied Piper - that hits a nail. I'm not sure that there should be anyone in charge of folk. The library sounds nice - but it all sounds a bit like control to me.

26 Feb 02 - 07:41 AM (#658093)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: greg stephens

The library is more than nice, it's a bloody paradise. As for control: the SS were well-eqipped. I'll start to worry about the EFDSS when I see their tanks on my lawn.

26 Feb 02 - 07:51 AM (#658101)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: manitas_at_work


When was the last time EFDSS debated any thing like that?

If you look at the origins of the EFDSS you can see that it has never proscribed morris dancing by women and has in fact been rather dependant on women as teachers. A few individuals may have written letters to Dance & Song but such debates tend to take place in other organisations such as the Morris Ring (and even they longer claim to be able to dictate what other people or organisations should do).

26 Feb 02 - 10:09 AM (#658198)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: alanww

Hi manitas

I am responding to you, rather than to a GUEST, who chooses to remain anonymous - I always ignore them!

As a member of a Morris Ring side (of men!) and as a regular attender of the Annual Ring Meeting (ie the AGM) of the Morris Ring of England for nearly all the past ten years, I cannot recall any debate about whether women should be allowed to dance morris.

All the three morris organisations affiliate to EFDSS and each organisation invites the others to send observers to its AGM. There have also been a number of joint activities, such as archiving projects and the production of morris dance material for use in schools.

But, of course, that does not stop any club choosing which other clubs it wishes to dance with and some of the Ring sides choose to dance only with other men's sides.

I am the Lord of the dance, said He ...

26 Feb 02 - 01:08 PM (#658315)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Abuwood

Oh dear, I am not only a singer but a lady morris dancer and mummer, the EFDSS won't like that will they?

26 Feb 02 - 01:27 PM (#658324)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: alanww

Ali, I don't think EFDSS will care, rather they will be impressed that you are so active! And both the Morris Federation and Open Morris affiliate to it.

Clouds are upon the summer sky ...

26 Feb 02 - 02:21 PM (#658352)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Manitas_at_home


I'm afraid I was rather overstating the case. I believe there have been debates about whether or not women's sides or sides with women should be allowed into the Ring since I started dancing (late 70's). The debates about whether or not women should dance morris were probably way back in the early days.

I understand that the Ring's position for quite a while has been that it is an association of men's morris clubs and doesn't presume to interfere in individual sides' policies. And, as you say, EFDSS doesn't care either.

26 Feb 02 - 02:48 PM (#658373)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?


The organisation may not take a position, however members do bicker about such nonsense.

As an example:

"I take the last paragraph as stating a view in favour of 'women's morris'. I feel that...dealing with a subject on which its members hold differing and opposing opinions, you were unwise to ally yourself with one such"

from the Folk Music Journal (1998 p512)

26 Feb 02 - 03:25 PM (#658395)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Desert Dancer

I'm a member from across the pond. (And a far ways across the continent on the other side, too!) I joined because I'm a folk-wonky sort. Curious about the organization, really interested in English folk song and dance. Can't take much advantage of the services other than the publications (going to the Library is a pilgrimage I hope to make someday), but am interested in supporting an organization that promotes traditional music and dance.

Speaking of bickering, the quarterly magazine is now under new editorship with several format changes in effect, starting with the spring issue. It'll be interesting to see what it looks like.

~ Becky in Tucson (Arizona)

26 Feb 02 - 04:15 PM (#658417)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: John MacKenzie

Well I think that the "English ping-pong and prance society" is a wonderful org. but as said previously, it's not too much use if you don't live in the "Great Metrollops" of nodnoL. I used to go to The Cellar every Saturday, when Jack and Margaret King ran it, but that was when Quentin Hogg was a piglet, and I don't know what happens there now.
"With his digit stuffed, firmly in his ear,
He hogs the bloody floor"
Sing along now children you all know the tune.

26 Feb 02 - 05:04 PM (#658464)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Malcolm Douglas

Should you join? I'd say yes, but first I'd better mention a few things.

The EFDSS has had its share of troubles.  I've been a member for 25 years, and have watched the "tea-dancers" seize control from what had been an encouragingly progressive executive committee, in order to preserve Cecil Sharp House as their own personal club, and a whole series of chief executives disappear in sometimes puzzling circumstances.  Much of the problem has been an aging membership primarily concerned with social dancing and having little interest in music and none at all, in many cases, in the serious study of the traditional arts.  For a good few years, the Library, the Journal and, to a lesser extent, the magazine often seemed to be the only really worthwhile things about the Society, and each of these had to be defended against attacks from members who had no interest in them and didn't see why they should have to pay anything toward their upkeep.

In short, a typical voluntary organisation!  The English Folk Dance and Song Society is not about "controlling" anything; it aims to encourage, document and develop folk music, dance and song traditions within England, and has in the past done a great deal of valuable work to that end.  It is far from perfect, but it is the only national organisation that we have.  In recent years it has moved toward establishing partnerships with other organisations with overlapping remits; on the national level, the National Sound Archive; on the regional level, ventures such as Folkworks (run by professional musicians) and smaller, grassroots setups like the South Riding Folk Network.  Publishing activities have resumed; on a relatively low-key basis so far, as the multi-media Root & Branch venture was not a commercial success, but there is more in the planning stages, including a project to make the Society's journals available online.  The changes to English Dance and Song are part of a move to reach a much wider public.

There are considerable opportunities for the Society to make a go of current plans, but it's important that it attracts a lot more younger members (anybody under 60 would probably count as young at the moment) than has been the case over the last twenty years; this has required a fairly drastic re-think of internal structures, priorities and image, and it is inevitable that some of the membership won't like it.  What the EFDSS needs is people who really believe in the folk arts; you don't have to be an active member (I haven't been for much of the time) but you can lend positive support just by joining.  Though I live in Yorkshire and rarely have a chance to get to the Library, I've never felt, even at the height of the in-fighting of the late '80s, that my subscription was wasted.

26 Feb 02 - 05:35 PM (#658495)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Col K

As a Shellback and also an individual member for almost 30 years all of us who are interested in folk music should join so that we are no longer regarded as a small number of strange people who either sing with a finger in their ear or who dance in silly costumes but so that the outside world may take notice of campaigns to change the stupid laws relating to numbers singing in pubs etc. The more members in the society the more power to their elbow in discusions with authority

26 Feb 02 - 05:43 PM (#658505)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: GUEST,Jim

Thank you Malcolm,

There are however too many analogies with the way that the Tory Party is currently run.

I tried hard to offer my services (voluntarily) to help set up the website, but just got nonsense arguements in return.

Making the Journal available on-line seems an excellent idea.

I confess that I'm dubious about that actually happening.

If my money went straight to Malcolm Taylor, then I'd be more than happy to renew my membership.

As things stand now, I'm not.


26 Feb 02 - 07:15 PM (#658583)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?

I was a member from about 1965 to 1989, but being in the USA about all I got out of it wasEnglish Dance and Song and Folk Music Journal (and one short visit to Cecil Sharp House and the library). The slant of the Journal got to be too much bios of collectors and sociology of folk music, rather than folk songs texts and tunes, so I dropped it.

26 Feb 02 - 07:20 PM (#658590)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Mr Red

Abuwood If you are a member of a club that is a member you can wave the club card for access to the VW library. I never have been a member but just to support the library(which is an asset of EFDSS) I have felt I should have been doing my bit. I have used the Bodleain (music room) but for focus on folk the VW library has to be worth it alone. Malcolm at the library is very helpful and knowledgable even to non-members (OK I know my shame - I will join when I land this job I am after - honest - cross my heart).

01 Mar 02 - 12:47 PM (#660694)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Abuwood

Perhaps I will Have to take a visit up there and see for myself, but a library would be more use surely if it was on the web? Do they have any plans?

01 Mar 02 - 01:26 PM (#660720)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: nutty

One of the problems in visiting the library, particularly for us folkies in the North, is that it is closed on Weekends and Bank Holidays.
I, personally, am more in favour of either moving Cecil Sharpe House to a more accessible location or changing its hours of accessibility.Unfortunately neither is likely to happen.

02 Mar 02 - 03:42 AM (#661206)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Les Jones

Help. I have been held captive by the EFDSS, the para-military wing of the folk movement for 30 years. They have kept me here with mind altering dance routines.

Lots of us joined in the heady days of the 60's and 70's when every where had Folk Clubs. We were just innocent young people with silly ideas about changing music, dance, the nature of performance and hence the whole of society.

Comrades Lloyd, McColl and Seeger had warned us about the EFDSS in that famous song 'Left wing Folkyness - an infantile disorder'. But no, we committed ourselves to the lot. Singarounds in obscure pubs until we drove out ordinary people. Music sessions played so fast only serious anoracks could join in. Folk Clubs with guests so obscuer and boring that even the rank and file stpooed comming. Summer Holidays in small seaside towns to immerse ouselves in the true faith. Endless arguments about the nature of folk song, should women dance the sacred Morris and how soon would Mumming replace all other forms of drama.

We really believed we were The People, we formed alliances with other par-military groups like the Morris Ring but it only led to factionalism and in-fighting. Safe within our sect, we soon scared off all the doubters and now their are only a few of us left and I am not to sure about some of them

Please join us and bring the masses with you to the only para-military group that can make England great again

Or, better still, I am prepared to make a break and stop the direct debit as long as I am treated sensitively and nobody mentions Cecil, Maude or dancing with out alcohol.

02 Mar 02 - 09:10 AM (#661251)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Big John

And there was me thinkin' that the women avoided morris dancin' because they're not as silly as men.

02 Mar 02 - 01:04 PM (#661382)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex

When were local branches reformed Dave?

I have heard nothing about any local organisation since the districts were abolished at the end of 1994.

03 Mar 02 - 04:55 AM (#661722)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Ned Ludd

The Club I was in in the 70's was a member but decided to pull out because they didn't DO anything. Since then I have maintained the idea that if the E.F.D.S.S. became more active then I would join. They never have, despite collecting a regular donation from the many people who do subscribe.

06 Mar 02 - 12:40 PM (#663727)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Abuwood

Ah Big John we are not so silly we realise that Morris Dancing is an excellent excuse to work up a thirst for a pint. Sensible men encouraged us to join so that we could do the driving ... little did they know!

07 Mar 02 - 03:33 AM (#664053)
Subject: RE: EFDSS - should I join?
From: Bert

I find it difficult to get over their balls-up over American Square Dancing in the Fifties. If you can't get something somewhere near right then why do it.

As square dancers we used to take delight in attending THEIR square dances and throwing in some of the silly stuff we used to do at real square dances. It was great fun watching their faces as we did random turn thru's in the middle of a right and left grand. Or Maybe formed up Arky Style.

Have they improved lately?