Adlington Morris Men
Alongside the loud guitars and banging drums, some parts of Manchester's music scene are currently under the influence of the English folk tradition – and it seems it isn’t just the music that is enjoying the fruits of that revival.
• formed in 1964 by engineering apprentices
Contrary to recent reports that morris dancing is disappearing from towns and villages, the practice is actually doing pretty well in our area, according to one dancer.
Roy Parrish dances with Adlington Morris Men, a team based in Handforth, and he says that morris is far from being on its last legs.
"The recent media coverage centred around problems that many sides have attracting young men to join and speculated that, this being the case, morris could be dead in 20 years or so.
"I don't feel that is altogether accurate. There are youngsters coming into morris - indeed there are some very fine sides made up entirely of young dancers, both male and female."
Roy is also quick to point out that it’s not just the Stockport area that has plenty of interest in the dancing. He says "morris dancing is widespread throughout Manchester, Cheshire and Lancashire" and that it's well appreciated by more than just the dancers.
"In the spring and summer months, it is possible to find several sides dancing out in any one week at fairs, festivals or just at a local pub. We get a very good response from the public whenever we appear, with rarely any adverse comment."
Roy's own interest in morris goes back to his student days "in the 70s when there was a thriving folk scene, though I admit that I was particularly interested in the music."
"Like many men, I long held the belief that I would have no idea how to dance and gave it a wide berth. A few years ago, I began playing English dance tunes on the melodeon and decided I should join a morris side to practice my art.
Adlington Morris Men + Waters Green Morris
"However, on joining Adlington, I was informed a good morris musician needs to know the dances and I instantly got roped into dancing. It turns out to be perfectly possible to do well with some good tuition and lots of hard work!"
Roy's interest in morris isn't just about the dancing though. He also sees it as an important part of "the folk culture of England".
"Whilst other countries celebrate their culture, the English seem to have become a bit embarrassed about theirs and are too ready to adopt 'imported' traditions. We should be more like most of the European nations and enjoy our indigenous folk music and dance."
And that’s exactly what is happening in the music scene, with nights like Hedge and For Folk's Sake embracing a new style of English folk in the area – so will the same happen for morris?
There's every chance, as Roy says they "regularly get invites to 80 or 90 events in any year and sadly have to turn down more than we can attend", which is why they're happy to hear from anyone who wants to give dancing a try.
Waters Green Morris
"We welcome any able bodied, reasonably fit chaps to come along and give it a go. A sense of rhythm helps but we will teach newcomers at a sensible pace to make sure they enjoy the process of learning.
"A couple of years ago, we had interest from a number of ladies who came to several practice sessions. Following from that, Waters Green Morris, a ladies side, was formed. So we can accommodate men, women or even couples.
"It's good to see morris performed by fit and agile dancers of any age and whilst it would be nice to get more interest from the 20-somethings, I don't think morris is dying out any time soon."
Adlington Morris Men and Waters Green Morris have a free 'morris taster session' from 11.00 am to 4.00 pm on Saturday 28th February at the 1st Handforth Scout Hut. For more details, check their website.
last updated: 18/02/2009 at 11:44