Morris Men, history and the future.

By on January 20, 2009

Well, it has lasted for over 500 years, surviving the puritanical suppression under Cromwell on the way, so it’s certainly not going to die out soon. The recent warnings about its demise came from The Morris Ring – an organisation that, in my opinion, represents the old-school of the morris world. Although attitudes have softened recently (some Ring sides will now appear at the same event as women’s teams) there remains a certain hard-core that cling onto their ideals. Their attitudes seem more 19th century than 21st. Fortunately, there are two other organisations – Open Morris and the Morris Federation – that hold more enlightened views and consequently attract the younger members.

There was a big folk revival back in the early sixties and again (but smaller) in the early eighties. This is when Ringheye, along with several other local sides, was formed. I joined a couple of years later and have been dancing ever since. In my time, I have seen the general interest in morris dancing dwindle slowly. Several teams have folded but others have found new light and are strong again. Ringheye has seen its share of hard times as people move on or have to drop out through injury. But we keep moving on and try to attract new members. Kati joined us when she was 12 and only recently,when her new life at university forced her to move away, has she stopped dancing every week. She still joins in when she’s back on holiday though. Another local team, the Earl of Stamford’s Morris from Moore near Warrington have enough kids to put up a whole side of them – complete with musician. And very good they are too – doing well in last year’ Eisteddfod. Many youngsters seem to relate well to and we could be seeing the beginnings of another revival.

It’s a great hobby. Not only do we get a burst of aerobic activity every week, we exercise our brains too. And then theirs the camaraderie of being in a club – and not just a local one either. Once a year we invite teams from all around the country to come and dance with us. Last year we took 15 other teams to Chester for the day. And then, on other occasions, we’ll go and dance at other team’s do’s. After a while you have good friends all over the country. I like performing for an audience too and get a great buzz from their cheers. The Knutsford May Day procession is fantastic!

You can find more background to The Morris here:
http://ringheye.org.uk/morris.php

The three morris organisations are here:
http://www.themorrisring.org/
http://www.open-morris.org/
http://www.morrisfed.org.uk/

Find your nearest morris team:
http://www.morrisdancing.org/finder/sfcgi.html

More videos of Ringheye dancing:
http://uk.youtube.com/results?search_query=ringheye

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