From Reluctance to Rhythm: My Unlikely Journey into the World of Morris Dancing

Five years ago, when I retired, my friend Lynne asked if I would accompany her to our local Morris Dancing group, because she fancied learning how to do it. I agreed reluctantly and said I would only go that one time just to get her there. However when we turned up, they were such a friendly and welcoming group that we immediately felt at home.

With great patience and good humour, they included us into the group and taught us a dance. It was so much fun filled with stepping, clashing sticks together, spinning, and trying to remember where to go next, and the music was so lively, we found we were smiling all the time. That was it….we were both hooked!

Our group is Border Morris which started in the Welsh borders. We wear tatter coats, top hats with feathers and bells on our knees, and clash big sticks together. The colours on the tatter coat are: white for Maldon salt: black to represent the colour of the barges’ hulls: red and brown to represent their sails and then we get to choose a colour of our own. Our costume reflects the area we are based in, Maldon, where Thames barges are moored. Many of the dances have a nautical theme; Captain’s ruler, Capstan, Tacking up River, to name but a few!

We practice every week from September to April, followed by weekly performances at different pubs in the area. We dance at the local Christmas market and at New Year by the quayside and a local museum. An annual highlight is the ‘Sweeps Festival’ in May, where Morris Dancers from all over the country come to dance at Rochester, while the ‘Potties Festival’ in Sheringham captivates the town in July. Then in July, the ‘Potties Festival’ takes place in Sheringham, which is quite amazing as the whole town is taken over for the weekend in much the same way as Rochester is in May.

Our particular group has been going for 29 years, and we really need to enlist some younger dancers. We are lucky enough to have a Cotswold Morris group and Clog Dancing group too and we often have a joint performance.

We always feel uplifted after dancing, however tired we are. It’s a total body and brain workout as you have to remember which pattern each dance follows, and this can be different in each position.

Recently we were asked to attend a music video shoot in Epping Forest. Sadly myself and my friend were unable to make it, but the group that went thoroughly enjoyed themselves and revelled in the experience. We await the video with much anticipation!

About Christine

I started yoga about 35 years ago and was lucky enough to get onto a teacher training course with the Yoga for Health Foundation. Here I met such wonderful and supportive people, who all helped each other in the true spirit of yoga.

I now run 2 weekly classes in villages nearby, which feel more like meeting with friends, who besides doing yoga, support each other and me!

Yoga has really helped me through all the ups and downs of life.

Christine Spash

2 thoughts on “From Reluctance to Rhythm: My Unlikely Journey into the World of Morris Dancing”

  1. MaryMilne says:

    it sounds like a lot of fun Chris, a great skill to have and a lovely community to be part of.

  2. Sara M says:

    Thanks so much, Chris. It’s really interesting to learn more about what you do. I’ve been seeing your FB posts for a while and I had no idea there was so much symbolism involved in the colours and the dances. You’re an inspiration to us all! 🙂 SMX

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *