A chance to cause Bedlam with Strictly Come Morris Dancing

All bells and whistles: Morris sides are gearing up for a May Day to remember

An appeal has gone out for locals to sign up for a version of Strictly Come Dancing that has some same-sex couples and can sometimes make a deafening noise, and is promising to put on a grand show that’s all bells and whistles on May Day.

The Wild Hunt Bedlam Morris team from Croydon is looking to expand its team after a couple of disappointing lockdowns years, and is recruiting dancers and musicians to be ready to perform at the start of the festival season.

No partners are required, but if you have one, they’re welcome too! The Wild Hunt’s recruitment evening is being held next Tuesday, January 11.

Formed in 1991, the men and women of the team perform in the “Border” style – referred to as the “Dark Morris” by fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett – wearing black tattered jackets and masks decorated with Celtic symbols.

They practice weekly in West Croydon throughout the winter and help new members, some with no previous dancing experience, to become part of an ancient yet vibrant tradition.

‘Dark Morris’: Croydon’s teams are much in demand over the summer. Photo: Lee Townsend

Anyone regularly attending practice will soon learn the skills to become a Morris dancer and develop the confidence to take part in dance-outs at local pubs and perform at festivals – with lots of demand expected through the spring and summer, from street parties, community festivals and pubs, from St George’s Day, to the Queen’s Jubilee, through to the Croydon Night of Dance.

The Sweeps Festival in Rochester, Kent, one of the largest gathering of Morris dancers in the world, has been a regular date in the Wild Hunt’s diary for many years. This year’s Festival takes place over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend April 30-May 2.

The first step in joining the folk community and having fun whilst becoming fitter is to check out The Wild Hunt website www.wildhunt.org.uk.

From our archive: Hundreds of folk dancers brighten up a sunny evening

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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8 Responses to A chance to cause Bedlam with Strictly Come Morris Dancing

  1. krautview says:

    A friend asked me recently if there was any connection between a team of Morris dancers and a Morris Minor. Can someone enlighten me?

  2. Lewis White says:

    Dear Krautview,
    Depending on the age of the Morris Minor, there could be further synergies with the dancers.

    Morris dancers spend quite a lot of time holding out (and waving up and down) large and clean pieces of cloth, similar to but maybe a tad larger than the “sinus clearing ” ones we used to call “handkerchiefs” or “hankies” ( now largely replaced by paper tissues), but maybe similar in size to the neck scarves worn by men in Victorian times (and more recently, the 1970’s) formerly called “Neckerchiefs” . Or indeed, to a high quality linen table napkin from a high class restaurant.

    The older Morris Minors (affectionately known as “Morries” ) similarly had side indicators like miniature wings, in amber coloured perspex (if I recall this correctly). When turning right, the driver would hit a control which made the indicator (aka “trafficator”) flick out. This does to a degree resemble the action of a Morris dancer in certain dance situations, particularly if waving an amber coloured ” ‘kerchief”. (albeit that a traditional Morris dancer’s would normally be white, as shown in the right-hand side inset photo below the Inside Croydon article). On reflection, if there are Morris dancers in Holland, perhaps they will use orange coloured ones, so the resemblance in that hypothetical case would indeed be uncanny.

    Older Minors had “split” windscreens made in two halves, with a glazing bar down the middle. Perhaps rather like a 1970’s Morris dancer wearing Elton John style big spectacles.

    My own Morris did not like driving in the dark if it was raining. Or rather, I didn’t. The amount of electricty generated was insufficient to generate enough electricty to power the headlights and the windscreen wipers if both switched on for more than 10 minutes.

    I can recall a horrendous trip at and after nightfall, down the coast road in West Wales (rural and unlit) when I had to turn off the headlights and wipers and reach out of the window to clear the rain with a cloth or my hand while driving along. Or I stuck my head out of the window and drove like that, until the rain got in my eyes and I could no longer see. When a car came along in the opposite direction I would switch back to headlamps until it was past. With my own arm flapping up and down, I might well have resembled a Morris dancer, with their white hankies, albeit a rather desperate one.

    In fact, had I had dry ‘kerchief, after than nightmare trip, I could have benefitted greatly from having a DRY Morris dance cloth to wipe the perspiration of relief from my brow.

    Maybe other Inside Croydon loyal readers could add other information and recollections about “Morries” that you might well find to be of assistance.

    Could I just mention that a group of Morris dancers used to be called a “side” (as per the main picture caption) rather than “team”, but I maybe out of date.

    Many thanks for your mind-expanding challenge !

  3. Mr Stephen Eddington says:

    Dear Krautview, speaking as the Morris Dancer who raced a Morris Minor on the Sky TV series Vroom Vroom, I would say there is a definite connection.

    P.S, Spoiler alert – I won on the first take, but they liked my “losing” acting much better than Kevin the Morris Minor driver’s, so the final cut had me valiantly ceding to the motor.

    • This is surely an early front-runner for the Best Comment of 2021 award…

    • krautview says:

      Dear Lewis,

      please forgive my tasteless response music hall gag.

      However, i am old enough to have driven a 1949 Morris minor – a green convertible no less. After the third loss of the turn-right trafficator – caused because I had not returned it to its housing before opening the driver’s door – I replaced the vulnerable “amber kerchief” with a blinking light. Maybe akin to putting a satellite dish on a listed building, but safer and in the end cheaper than replacing the trafficator.

      I wonder who owns and drives the yellow Morrie i recently spotted parked near the top of Fox Hill. That sighting prompted me to repeat the old music hall ‘dipstick’ gag.

  4. krautview says:

    Oh dear!?! i am so sorry about this. Apparently, or so I am now told, the difference between the two is that the Morris Minor – unlike the dancing tr0upe – only has one dipstick.

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