WAKEFIELD MORRIS DANCERS
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The Best of North West from West Yorkshire
The First Thirty Years 1980-2011

HEADLINES Last Update 10thJanuary 2022

BOXING DAY ON THE HEATH - THE TRADITION LIVES
Given the pandemic and the general air of desparation there was some question as to whether the traditional dance out at the Kings Arms, Heath Common would happen in 2021. I got a query through I guess this web site and after a check with the current team found that there was not doubt in their minds that there would be a performance.

A bit of background. In the early days the Boxing Day event was a tour, very Cotswold! We would start in Horbury then head for Newmillerdam next came Heath Common then as often as not on to Sharleston. That last one looks odd but Gerry and husband Howard had a good link with the licencee of the White Horse and I recall very clearly a splendid fancy dress themed Boxing Day there. After a dance out side the Fleece in Horbury that stopped the traffic we opted to skip that element. OK the traffic we stopped was a passing police patrol and we where in the road, well you find a better spot near the Fleece.
Then Newmillerdam was lost as our dance spot on the Dam Inn car park was deemed essential to the pubs lunchtime trade and Gordon the Warden who had coned it off for us in the years gone by could no longer get us the space. The Sharlston spot just faded out; I think Gerry and Howards relocation to "Old Snydale" as Gerry called it or "Streethouse" as most people viewed it must have been the reason. Whatever the end result was that there was no way we would miss out on Boxing Day and The Kings Arms was the place to be. We even got a news check in "Yorkshire Life" one year and we danced in all weathers. Yes we coped with ice, we had clear blue skies and frost and once I seem to recall we danced in the rain; "You can only get wet once" was a mantra. And so the tradition continued up to 2020 - when as the side held a ceildh to celbrate their 40 years of dancing the Covid virus swept the planet.

So Boxing Day 2021 and the Kings Arms on Heath Common is open. People gather wrapped up against the weather whilst dancers prepare to brave the elements relying on the vigour of the dance to generate warmth and musicians huddle together for mutual warmth. Formed up as a set the side is called on and with a steady tread they come onto the spot and the dance is started. Steve, the dance master is calling from the front of the set and the side has got he crowds attention. As the final figure is completed a round of applause welcomes the return of the tradition of dancing on Boxing Day at the Kings Arms. The ability to get a side out comes down to the determination to keep the tradition and the team alive. I cannot claim to be up to speed with the current team ten years after my legs decided the world of full throttle dance was to become a memory, but a stand out feature was the Haigh and Ollerton daughters who are four valued and very able dancers. I gather one of Steves daughters could not make Boxing Day 2021. Still there will be a side out in 2022 and the sun might shine down from a cerulean blue sky, though as I chatted to Sarah Haig and suggested to one of her daughters that such a day could be had on a Boxing Day dance out she seemed less than convinced.
Tucked away in the crowd were several former team members Liz Harwood and Niall , Anne Bennison, Gary and Carolyn Stead, Ruth and Heather Flint, and Sarah Haig. Never one to resist a captive audience I'm off to have a chat whilst keeping an eye on the dancing. At the end of the first set I catch up with Dave Lacy and am so glad to see him out and about although the effects of illness are still with him. It's just so good to see him making music again albeit on the penny whistle. Given the damp, cold, overcast conditions it's a double credit to the team who perform a second set. Having got Niall out for a dance in the first set more former members were volunteered(?) for a dance in the second set. I cannot say I recognised the dance and so was glad to say I had not volunteered. But I did recognise the final dance of the day, the show stopping West Bretton.
With the crowd thinning out those who stayed on were treated to plates piled high with sandwiches produced by the Kings Arms. Handed out for the benefit of the dancers and musicians even the healthiest of appetites could not empty the plates and the crowd got the benefit of food as a quid quo pro for their financial support as the collection went round. So hats off to the team and hats off to the Kings Arms for their support. Here's hoping for a better 2022 and a dance out on or around the 21st of June - same place just better weather. No doubt more on this on the teams Facebook, should that be Meta(?) thingy.

Yes there is more on the Meta thingy so enjoy! For the nostalgic and historic research ers I have actually found a way the increase the font size for tired old eyes. As yet it's only on the Roll of Honour pages but when I get the urge it may appear else where.

Seen the Youtube videos yet? Some links to key dances now in place via the repertoire pages.

This site is primarily a repository for the history of Wakefield Morris over the first thirty years of existence. The diary and contacts will still be updated but day to day matters and developing repertoire will no longer be covered. But fear not, from the dusty back room video tapes (younger readers ask your parents) have been recovered and converted to modern DVD format. Details of the "tapes" are now on the "Galleries" page and details of how copies may be obtained. As of 2019 this content is now available in MP4 format. As of November 2016 I have finally completed the sometimes salacious potted biographies that form the "Roll of Honour" of all those who danced with the team in the first 30 years. Still some blanks to fill and always open to updates, the editor is always happy to hear from members or acquaintances.

For more information on the Morris dancers world, to find a team near you or to simply explore the delights of the tradition why not try the Morris Federation web page.

E-MAIL CONTACT: for General Information or use this one for Booking Enquiries
RELATED LINKS
Wakefield Morris another site - The new site for the team in the 21st Century with blogs,twitter,facebook and all sorts of "stuff". Though as at 2022 the web site lacks an editor/update person I gather.
For the current teams Facebook page. - Very trendy and handy if you still do Facebook.
Rhubarb Tarts - The Rhubarb Tarts where many of the team could once be found. As of October 2021 the Tarts went out in a blaze of glory at Holmfirth Festival of Folk.
The Morris Federation to find a local side to you or information on dance.
Trefor Owen Clogs web site
Bacup Coconut Dancers - The place to be on the Saturday before Easter.
Townley Plays - See line 453 for the "Shrogys" reference.
Mystery plays and players..