Disillusioned Discordian

Goths ‘re-inventing Morris’
May 12, 2008, 9:27 am
Filed under: Morris, Uncategorized

There was an interesting article in the independent this weekend about how a Morris side has been reinventing the tradition in the pagan style. This interests me not only because I dance Border Morris, but also because I have an interest in what some call Paganism. Anyone who studies Paganism will be aware that it comes from the Latin Paganus, meaning country dweller, rustic, which is ironic when you consider this side admits to having quite an ‘urban’ style. In effect what they are really doing is dancing in a neo-pagan style. Wiccan is perhaps the most prominent of neo-pagan traditions, it’s really become more of a religion or fashion statement. Its history dates back only the C20th and the likes of Gerald Gardner. The claim is that it’s a recreation of an unbroken pagan tradition dating back to the likes of the Celtic Druids. Unfortunately there is scant evidence of this claim of a lost goddess based spiritualism. Like the legend of Arthur it’s more romance than realty.

Morris dancing is in a similar situation. Most of the modern dancers were collected by a few Victorian collects such as Cecil Sharp, who painted their own particular brand of the tradition. Border Morris’ tradition is even more flakey, it largely being an invention of the 1970s folk revival. What we are able to claim is that across rural Britain there have always been different folk dances of different regional styles and traditions. There are other border sides such as the Widders, Wharfedale Wazygoose and Stone the Crows which are a lot less overtly Neo- Pagan, although they could be described as Paganus. From Cotwold to Northwest from Border to Rapper. The goth sides are nothing new with the Witchmen having danced in this style since the 80s. All stories grow and change as do all traditions and languages.

Modern Britain is a mixing pot of culture and I think it’s great that people are going out there and creating their own new styles. The danger is that you may end up with something along the lines of nu-rave, or as the Might Boosh say “Taking elements of the past, with elements of the future, to make something not quite as good as either”. Of course the excellent imagines village project shows that a new mix can produce fantastic results, Not having seen this team dance I couldn’t comment, the Witchmen however are excellent dancers!


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