Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published February 26th 2013
Fooling Around With The Morris Dancers
No one really knows the origin of what we now call 'Morris Dancing', a form of English Folk Dance whose purpose is shrouded in mystery.
Morris Dancers Dancing Morris
There is mention of 'Morys' in the Lord Mayor's Processions of the 15th Century, but as an activity separate from fools, mumming, guising and sword dancing and limited to the countryside there is very little written evidence.
The name derives from 'Moorish' dance, and is possibly an offshoot of the the Spanish Moresca, in celebration of Ferdinand and Isabella unifying the country and driving the Moors out of Spain.
Whatever it's origins, the whole spirit and thrust of the event is the same as folk dance the world over - joy of living and celebration of life and renewal.
Possibly English in origin, it has spread all over the world and Morris Dancing teams (called 'sides') may be found almost everywhere, including in Australia and even here in the West in sleepy Guildford as the 'Mad Tatters Mixed Morris Dance Team'.
They perform the traditional dances with sticks, dressed in ribbons, jingle bells at the knee, hats and 'tatter coats'. They perform at community events and rehearse on Tuesday evenings at The Mechanics Institute, Meadow Street, Stirling Square, Guildford from 7.00-9.00pm & socialise at the Rose and Crown pub afterwards.