12th January 2012 – No.21: Start Morris Dancing Again

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For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a morris dancer. According to my Mother I was two. That is when she first took me to Hastings Jack-in-the-Green, a yearly celebration of the beginning of summer, which attracts morris dancers from all over England and occasionally other places in the world. When I saw the morris dancers, I said “Lizzie dance!” and never looked back.

My Mother and I dancing 'La Moresque'

My Mother and I dancing ‘La Moresque’

In Hastings, none of the sides allow dancers under the age of fourteen, so I had to wait twelve years to join. At the time I started dancing, there were actually several Hastings sides, Mad Jack’s Men, Mad Jack’s Women and Daisy Roots. The summer I turned fourteen, I joined Daisy Roots, a women’s border morris side. Border morris is a style from the Welsh border and is typified by the wearing of rag coats and exuberant, wild dancing. When I was fifteen, Daisy Roots separated in two sides, Oojah Kapivvy (Border morris) and Hannah’s Cat, which is Cotswold morris, a style from the Cotswolds typified by the wearing of waistcoats and elegant, precise dancing. I thus became one of the founder members of Hannah’s Cat. At sixteen, I left my morris side to focus on my G.C.S.E’s. I meant to go back after my A-level’s but when I got pregnant it became much harder to go back because I couldn’t afford a babysitter on a regular basis. Still, I made it my goal to return someday.

Dancing 'Poor Fiddler' at Hasting's Castle.

Dancing ‘Poor Fiddler’ at Hasting’s Castle.

After a few years, Barrie, my daughter’s father became in a position to have Emiko overnight on his days, rather than coming to my house to see her. This meant my Thursday nights were now free, so I arranged rejoin Hannah’s Cat in the January  of 2012. It had been seven years since I last danced and I had forgotten most of the dances and missed the introduction of some new ones. There were members I had never met and I was now the second youngest member of the side instead of the youngest. It took me about three months to catch up with everything but before long I felt as if I had never left. I got my waistcoat, in our signature colours of pink and purple and began dancing out with the side at various events. At the 2012 Jack-in-the-Green, I danced Poor Fiddler, my favourite dance, on the stage at the Castle. When the Olympic torch came through Hastings, the last bearer of the torch was the husband of our foreman ( who teaches the dances) and we escorted him as a morris guard of honour to the torch’s final stop. We danced in many places for many occasions, in all sorts of weather (even snow).

Being part of a morris side is a big part of me; a long-held dream and a love for the national, traditional dance of my country. We morris folk are a certain breed that comes from all walks of life to share our enjoyment of something that resides deep in our bones.

Hannah's Cat the day the Olympic torch came to Hastings. the child is my daughter Emiko and the lady on the far right of the photo is my Mother.

Hannah’s Cat the day the Olympic torch came to Hastings. the child is my daughter Emiko and the lady on the far right of the photo is my Mother.

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