Poster for the Day of Dance
The weekend before Easter Richard and I took Elinor in to Halesworth so that she could go to the hairdressers. We had a couple of things to buy and had arranged with Elinor that we would meet her back in the car park. When we got to Halesworth we discovered that a Day of Dance was taking place in the town.
Oxblood Molly, a Molly dancing team were hosting their first Day of Dance in Halesworth and had invited a number of other dance teams to come along and take part. Richard and I were delighted, as we love to watch Morris, Molly and Sword Dancing. Elinor isn’t so keen and we got a couple of messages from her telling us about the difficulty she had in getting into the hairdresser’s salon past a large group of dancers, musicians and also a man wearing a horse’s head ( the Hobby Horse).
This is the Oxblood Molly side (or team) dancing in Halesworth Thoroughfare. All the dances were performed outside the pubs in the town. The pub here is just out of shot on the right – The White Hart.
Molly Dancing originated in Cambridgeshire and is traditionally danced on Plough Monday, the first Monday after Epiphany when the agricultural workers went back to work after Christmas. A decorated plough was dragged through the streets and the farm workers accompanied it with blackened faces asking for pennies to help the poor plough boys. They disguised themselves so that their employers wouldn’t recognise them. During harsh winters the farm-workers were often close to starvation. The dance team went with the farm-workers; one of the dancers (all male) would be dressed as a woman, hence ‘Molly’.
This is Molly.
Here is a selection of photographs of Oxblood Molly.
Danegeld Morris dancing in the yard of the White Swan pub.
There are six main styles of Morris Dance – Cotswold Morris, North West Morris, Border Morris, Longsword Dancing, Rapper and Molly Dancing. There is another less well-known style called Ploughstots (or Vessel Cupping, or Plew-ladding!) from the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire.
Danegeld Morris dance in the North West style and wear clogs on their feet. This style was developed during the 19th and 20th centuries and came from the mill towns that had sprung up during the Industrial Revolution.
This side is called Pedant’s Revolt and they dance in the Border Morris style. This is also the White Swan pub yard. Richard filmed a few of the teams on his phone. He only filmed short excerpts of three dances. The video below is of Pedant’s Revolt.
Here they are again outside The White Hart.
I like the pheasant’s feathers they wear in their hats
This is Chelmsford Morris Ladies, another North West Morris group dancing in the White Swan pub yard. Below is another video.
Kenninghall Morris side – a Border Morris dance team relaxing after having performed outside the Swan.
They traditionally blacken their faces, though some of them had whitened their faces instead! A couple of the Oxblood Molly side are with them here.
This side is Bows ‘n’ Belles and they are dancing outside the White Hart. They are another North West Morris team and their video is below.
We weren’t able to see all the groups dancing that day as we had promised to visit my mother that afternoon. It has made us want to go to more events like this!
Thanks for visiting!