web analytics

Please help me. I’m immigrating to the Island of Misfit Toys.

morris dancersthe squire

Uncle B went to a village fête this weekend (I was going to title this post ‘a fête worse than death’ but I have a feeling that’s probably the oldest joke in the really stupid immigrant joke book).

Given the slightest encouragement, Brits break out in morris dancers. These guys. With the bells and the flowered hats and the dancing and waving hankies. The morris dance combines several things that Britons love: dressing up, acting stupid and scaring the hell out of weasels. (Their real first love is dressing in drag, so it’s no surprise there is a bit of this in some local variants).

Some claim morris dancing goes way back to pre-Christian Britain, but Wikipedia says the earliest for sure citation is late 15th C. I’m guessing some of the dances themselves are ancient, but the term “morris” apparently is derived from “Moorish” and may relate to the celebrations in Spain after Ferdinand and Isabella finally drove the Moors out in 1492. So it’s got that going for it.

Oliver Cromwell put the Puritan kibosh on it for a while, but it came roaring back. Then it died down to a few very teams (or ‘sides’) after the industrial revolution. But it got revived in the early 20th and esploded. Because, hey — dressing up, acting stupid and scaring the hell out of weasels. w00t!

What’s the dance like? I don’t really know. I’m pretty sure it’s all about the dressing up.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 9, 2008, 10:07 am




You get the impression these guys say “hey nonny nonny” a lot? Me too.



Comment from Anonymous
Time: June 9, 2008, 10:28 am

Looks like the guy in the foreground wants to surrender so badly that he grew a hand out of his back to wave a white flag.

But seriously, folks, the headdress on the middle guy looks a bit moorish to me. That or the Dallas Cowboys are gonna look really funny this season.

Comment from Gnus
Time: June 9, 2008, 10:34 am

Psssssst, Sweasel. It’s really moi using Opera to say Hi. Not really anonymous at all.

Unexpected power outage blew my Firefox away and now I can’t get it to do anything. Fresh copy installs ok, won’t run at all. Hence Opera, which is really kinda nice. It’s quick.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 9, 2008, 10:42 am

I’ve been an Opera user since way back when you had to pay for it. There was no Firefox then, and Netscape was holding on by its fingertips. I love it. It still has advantages, even in a Firefox world.

My favorite thing is being able to switch it between loading images, not showing images at all and only showing images that are already in the cache (I think the default is the “i” key, but I have to use IE at work, so boo). You won’t BELIEVE how fast you can blitz through things with the images turned off. And once you’ve made the rounds of your favorites, switch to cached images to refresh.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: June 9, 2008, 11:04 am

That’s one tradition I won’t be sad to see the back of when Britain inevitably slides into oblivion.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: June 9, 2008, 11:24 am

Sir Thomas Beecham, the great orchestral conductor, once remarked, ‘You should try everything once, except incest and folk dancing.’

Morris dancing is a fine old pagan tradition – but I don’t do it. Nor (in case someone’s fingers are already itching) do I do incest.

Comment from Allen
Time: June 9, 2008, 11:45 am

I see a village fete might have a “bat a rat” stall. It sounds an awful lot like the Chuck E Cheese Whack a Mole.

Comment from porknbean
Time: June 9, 2008, 12:19 pm

Silly Euros, your ancestors wanted nothing to do with the Moors and you ‘invited’ them back in.

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: June 9, 2008, 1:46 pm

If you haven’t read any Terry Pratchett, I highly recommend Lords and Ladies for many excellent reasons, one of which being it explains what true Morris dancing actually is – a highly lethal martial art.

Also it blows the lid off the deceptive propaganda of the Faerie lobby. You have no idea what those bastards are really like unless you read the book.

Comment from bad cat robot
Time: June 9, 2008, 2:43 pm

Terry Pratchett is also responsible for summoning forth the Dark Morris from the void. He claims some fans actually danced it for him, which is probably why we’re not having summer this year. And why cheeses walk the earth …

Comment from Jill
Time: June 9, 2008, 3:23 pm

Weasel, it looks more like The Island of Misfit Boys.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: June 9, 2008, 6:30 pm

Is that grey horse head supposed to be the Mari Llywd? I seem to remember reading something about a Welsh festival thingy that included a skeletal horse. (Presumably, “Mari Llywd” means “grey mare.”)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 9, 2008, 6:33 pm

It’s a hobby horse. <shrug>

Write a comment

(as if I cared)

(yeah. I'm going to write)

(oooo! you have a website?)

Beware: more than one link in a comment is apt to earn you a trip to the spam filter, where you will remain -- cold, frightened and alone -- until I remember to clean the trap. But, hey, without Akismet, we'd be up to our asses in...well, ass porn, mostly.

<< carry me back to ol' virginny