Shrewsbury Morris – 2015 dance season continues, and we’re recruiting!!!!

Since we last blogged a great deal has happened in Shrewsbury Morris World so by way of an update……..since the end of May we’ve danced at Chester Folk Festival (scene of the great rainbow neckerchief tussle), received, used and handed over the Shrewsbury Festivals Baton and organised and held an amazing, highly popular free music and dance event in town called Beat and Bells.

This saw Pateley Longsword Morris, us (naturally), the awesomely thunderous Kayobi Taiko and the stupendous Zulu Tradition who wowed the crowds that gathered in Shrewsbury Square on a sunny June day….a day to live long in the memory!


Prior to the event we had also raised enough money through a Crowdfunding project (we believe we’re the first Morris side ever to achieve this) to allow Zulu Tradition to visit six local schools in the week leading up to Beat and Bells and impart their own particular brand of education, fun, song and dance to completely captivated children of all ages. The photos of young beaming faces joining joyfully in all the activities were proof enough that the idea was a complete success.

The sunshine and heat of Sat June 6th was replaced by the cold and rain of Sat June 13th when we went to dance in Wellington for the annual Summer Fayre. This delightful event is a bit of a favourite of ours and we were really looking forward to it. Sadly the rain curtailed our dance programme but both our teams put in a stoic spot before the heavens really opened and the whole event was moved indoors. Our cloggers did manage a dance inside a packed school room which went down very well with the crafters there!


Two weeks later we were back dancing at Holly Farm Nurseries near Prees for their open day. We weaved in and out of the vintage cars, plants and flowerpots to put on a pretty good display and the team all seemed to have great fun on another rainy day….but we danced under a lovely canopy so that was alright then!

July started with a social event…an unwedding….as two of our super team members, Cathy and John got unmarried at a very lovely unwedding reception…..a fab day where the team could enjoy being together and saying well done to the happy newly unweds! Needless to say there was a Lasses dance in there which Cathy had to join in with and an appearance by a secretive and previously unknown “boy” band who we believe will slip just as quickly back to well deserved obscurity.


The village of Llanrhaedr Ym Mochnant kindly invited us to process and dance at their very popular carnival on 11th July and a week later we found ourselves in Buxton as guests of the very hyphenated but extremely well organised and kind Chapel-en-le-Frith Morrismen who were celebrating a birthday by hosting 16 Morris sides from around the country for a Day of Dance. The weather was brilliant, the dance venues spectacular, the organisation impeccable and it was really nice to meet and dance with friends old and new.

Just before we broke up for our traditional August mini-break, local torn paper collage artist Lyn Evans came to give us a preview of her latest commission which is a beautiful collage of Shrewsbury Square. Known to only a few of us at the time she had very kindly included Shrewsbury Morris in her picture. Not just included but centre stage too! We are extremely grateful to her for “immortalising” us in such a beautiful way and for being so generous as to give each team member some gifts of cards and vouchers to buy full size prints. A great way to end the first part of our dance season.

Although August is a quiet month dance-wise for us, many of the team have been and are currently very busy helping and working at other folk festivals, principally Sidmouth and Towersey where a great deal of hard work and organisation is helping those two festivals enormously.

Whilst they’re doing that the rest of us move on to our own folk festival in Shrewsbury where we’ll be dancing on Sat 29th Aug at the following places:

Festival Site Garden Stage – 9:45-10:30

St Mary’s Church – 11:15-12:00

St Alkmond’s Church – 12:15-13:00

Procession through town – 13:13-14:00

Shrewsbury Square – 14:45-15:30

St Alkmond’s Church – 15:45-16:30

We are looking forward to it immensely.

Finally, practice resumes on Thursday 3rd September at Sundorne School, Shrewsbury from 8pm……..and we’re recruiting, especially men! So, if you’re even vaguely fit, like fun, feel like having a go at this wonderful thing that we all love and don’t mind committing some of your free time then why not just come to one of our practices, meet the team and see what you think? We’ll teach you everything so no previous dance experience is necessary.

You never know…….we could change your life for you…..:)))))

2015 so far

It’s been a very busy and pretty varied start to the 2015 dance season for us, kicking off as ever with our annual Team Walking Weekend in a part of the UK. This time our terrific organisers Sue and Steve (hats off and hankies lowered to them) really came up with the goods and booked us into the Youth Hostel in Conwy, Wales. We enjoyed perfect weather, a hostel completely to ourselves with acres of room, a super music session during which we actually danced off against each other and, of course enjoyed a wonderful walk together.

The weekend was made even more special because we had also just reached (in fact surpassed) the £2k target we had set ourselves via a Crowdfunder project, to get the amazing Zulu Tradition group from KwaZulu Natal to visit six local schools to carry out cultural workshops. Double celebration with champagne!!! Looking forward to that happening in June. The Crowdfunder experience was a new one to us, it turned out to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride but thanks to some hugely generous people we made it with two weeks to spare!

On our return we were quickly into the first dance out of 2015, at the very picturesque Glansevern Gardens, close to Welshpool. This enables us to demonstrate several new dances that had been hard practised over the winter and at our “Boot Camps” in January. Although a little on the inclement side the weather brightened just as we started and remained sunny all through our programme – good start!

This was swiftly followed by a highly enjoyable (albeit with an unfortunate casualty…get well asap Lynne) dance out in Shrewsbury for and with The Big Busk, a now annual event to commemorate through music, dance and all manner of entertainment, the life of a local busker Ben Bebbington who was murdered by two men on a canal towpath comparatively recently. The Busk fills Shrewsbury town centre with music and fun and is great to be a part of. We had a super time dancing in front of big crowds and caught up with lots of friends too. Note to selves….don’t dance Steeple Claydon in a space the size of a handkerchief again :)))


Next stop….celebrating May Day at the fabulous National Trust Dudmaston near Bridgnorth, in front of what turned out to be (I believe) their biggest crowd ever for a single day! Some of us were on a beach on the other side of the world that day so couldn’t be there but the team (as always) had a great time, danced brilliantly and were thoroughly well looked after by the NT staff as always. We love going to Dudmaston :)))

Our most recent dance out was at the outgoing Mayor of Shrewsbury’s Garden Party in the tiny village of Cruckmeole just outside Shrewsbury. After an impromptu and unexpected maypole dance by myself and Cathy (knew we should have arrived later lol) the team danced for the party goers on the tennis court of a beautiful country house, finishing with perfect timing so that the duck race could start.


We have a busy few days coming as we are dancing at Chester Festival on Sat 23rd May and then the following Wednesday (27th) when we’re dancing before the Demon Barbers XL show at The Place theatre in Oakengates, Telford all of which we are very much looking forward to.

Beat and Bells

The rhythms of the world will be sounding in Shrewsbury this summer, when prizewinning local morris side, Shrewsbury Morris (that’s us!), host an exciting range of dancers and drummers from across the globe for a day of ‘Beat & Bells’.

Zulu Tradition will be coming all the way from KwaZulu Natal in South Africa to headline the event. This young group of Zulu singers and dancers will bring a heady mix of African harmonies and high-energy, athletic dance, all traditionally costumed and with exciting drum-rhythms. They have performed at Buckingham Palace and the British Museum for Mandela Day and are in demand for events around the world.

They will be joined by Kayobi Taiko, experts in the dynamic and ancient art of Japanese taiko drumming. Kayobi have performed in festivals around the country over the last few years, making a truly awesome sound.

Pateley Longsword are a stunning group of longsword morris folk dancers from Yorkshire. They are renowned for giving audiences tradition with attitude, bringing a real vitality and freshness to their dancing. Many of their dances feature longswords, as their name suggests, bringing a thrilling flash of steel to their daring performances.

The line up is completed by performances from Shrewsbury Bull and Pump Morris, Shrewsbury Cloggers and The Shrewsbury Lasses who, between them, bring an exceptional range of traditional dances from around Britain, as well as many newer dances they have choreographed themselves and taught around the country. A familiar sight around Shropshire, they have been performing for nearly 40 years and Shrewsbury Morris expect to carry on proudly dancing in Shrewsbury for plenty more years too.

This is the third annual free day of music and dance Shrewsbury Morris has organized for the town and this promises to be as lively and colourful as our previous events.

‘Beat & Bells’ is in The Square in Shrewsbury on 6 June from 10 until 4pm, and in the evening why not come along to our Summer Ceilidh, held jointly with Squeezing Shropshire – all the details are here!

An Exciting Time to be a Shrewsbury Morris Dancer

We don’t often blow our own trumpet (well…..not very often anyway) but right now is a very exciting time to be a member of Shrewsbury Morris. If Ray and Bev are reading this then of course it’s always an exciting time to be a member of Shrewsbury Morris! :))

So far 2014 has been a very good year. We’ve danced in great locations around Shropshire, visited the Lake District for The Morris Federation Day of Dance, enjoyed our traditional walking weekend, had lovely articles written about us in the local press, won several social media awards, danced in a pantomime, taught new members, increased the size of our team, hosted a major Drum, Music and Dance event in our own town, danced for charity, danced AND worked simultaneously at two major UK folk festivals, been sponsored for the first time, judged competitions, supported local business, hosted two Open Evenings and been invited to dance for Parliament…….and I haven’t even mentioned Christmas yet…’s coming though!!

Our most recent dance out at beautiful National Trust Dudmaston, for their Orchard Day was a great success, attended by a lot of team members which was great because everyone could get a chance to dance but, over three 45 minute dance spots, so could people get a chance to rest between dances (the advantage of having a big “squad” to use Premier League parlance :))

We were watched at each spot by a very enthusiastic and appreciative crowd and, as usual attracted some very lovely comments. Halfway through the afternoon we were asked to judge the produce competition, during which we were interviewed by our friends at BBC Radio Shropshire. With our “GBBO” heads on (yeah right!) we judged apple pies, chutney, apple cake, sponges and also decorated apples (well it WAS Orchard Day!) What a Morris Dancer knows about cake judging you could write down on the back of a very small postage stamp but it was done, we got out safely, it was a lot of fun and it got us a massive shout out on local radio so…..result!

So, to the present moment. As I type, the team has just finished hosting what we think were two very successful Open Evenings attended by some 16 new people overall. We hope, and think that a good proportion of them will come back and join us as most of them seemed to enjoy the events and the hospitality. If you’re reading this, and think it’s too late…it isn’t. Just give us a call and ask to come along to one of our practices on a Thursday night from 8pm at Sundorne School, Shrewsbury. We’d love to see you.

We are back at practice now with a vengeance as we are looking forward to (hopefully) dancing for Parliament on Monday December 8th. This follows a very kind invitation from our local MP Daniel Kawczynski who is keen to host us there. The team is very excited about this chance to represent Shropshire Morris Dancing and looking forward to it immensely. Details are still being finalised but we’ll publish further news about this wonderful opportunity on here, our FB page and our twitter account.

Just prior to that however, we have a busy weekend because on Sat Dec 6th we are holding our annual Christmas Ceilidh at Sundorne School, Shrewsbury from 8pm. As always, there is a fancy dress theme and this year it’s Frost and Fire, so plenty of dressing up opportunities, although it’s not compulsory!

This is always a really fun event, there is a terrific band (Pump Action), some great calling from Bev Langton and is always well attended so book early. There’s currently an Early Bird offer of only £6.00 per ticket which represents tremendous value we think, so call the number on the poster attached and book early for a great fun evening. But be quick because the Early Bird offer ends on 31st October.

So there you are, we’re approaching 2015 at breakneck pace, are excitedly expecting our new dancers, are planning another big event to host next year in Shrewsbury, we’re constantly raising our profile in many different ways, are looking forward to new sponsorship from local business and working towards 2016 when we will celebrate our 40th birthday :)))))

So you see, it really is an exciting time to be a Shrewsbury Morris Dancer!! Call us, it could be you enjoying the bright future with us! Beware, you might need shades though :)))

Dancing Dayz at the Day of Dance

Last year we (and Shrewsbury of course) had the serious privilege of hosting The Morris Federation Day Of Dance (it’s actually their AGM but it’s a damn fine excuse to hold a huge Morris houlie too).

It was a great success and one of our guests that day, the delightful Belfagan Women’s Morris Dancers from Cockermouth in Cumbria were chosen to host this year’s event in the beautiful Lakes town of Keswick…walking boots on Shrewsbury Morris!!

We had been looking forward to this all year so it was with great relish that we made our collective ways (or not) through the varying degrees of backed up motorway traffic to Keswick on Friday 26th September. We had all decided to stay in different accommodation so the hardier souls camped or motorhomed, those with rugged tastes stayed in the town youth hostel and the lightweights and comfort seekers stayed in B&B (hello blogger!! *note, and webmistress!).

Those who were lucky enough to be retired or on a career break (as my wife calls it) had legged it up the M6 early enough to avoid the traffic, checked in chez comfort and were checking out the Keswick ale houses by 4pm……it should be said at this point that we are NOT a boozy side but there are certain things that need to be reconnoitred early in order to inform the later arrivals of their location and suitability (that’s my excuse anyway). Actually I fell asleep (lightweight again) so missed the later arrivals!!

By 10pm we were all in location and in various states of tiredness etc and looking forward to the weekend’s dancing.

After breakfast on the Saturday (during which I had to pose in Morris kit for some overseas visitors to take photographs!!) all the visiting teams (some 30 of them) met up at the central location for the day, bought our super duper laser guided badges and filled up with coffee, tea and biscuits before splitting up and heading off for our first dance spots.

We were starting our day by the town underpass with the delightful Carlisle Sword and Clog team, many of whom were already known by some of our members, so it was a good beginning to the event for us, along with Ripley Green Garters too. We then had a hysterical dance set in Museum Square with Pately Long Sword before a less than hysterical forced march down to the riverside of the spectacular Derwent Water for a spot on the Landing Stages with the lovely Westmorland Step & Garland Dancers. It did get easier after that with us wending our way gently back to the town, stopping to dance with the super Strictly Clog (who boast the Morris Federation President in their ranks) in Hope Park on the way.

An elongated lunch break allowed us to rest a little and get some fuel on board after a very energetic morning and was for me a chance to get round town to put human faces to Twitter names, having been talking online to Keswick tweeps all the week before.

In the afternoon all the visiting teams got a chance to showcase a particular dance in front of everyone else in a massed spot which is always an enjoyable (if a little nerve-racking) experience.

It had been a lovely day’s dancing, our musicians were, as always superb, all the dancers put everything into the performances and danced well and I think we entertained a lot of people judging by the crowds and the smiles on lots of faces.

The evening saw us enjoy a wonderful team meal in Sienna’s in Keswick, which had a brilliant restaurant upstairs with superb staff and fabulous food (you know, the sort you take mobile phone pictures of and post on Facebook/Twitter/insert your choice of social media platform?)

Sunday morning of the Day of Dance always sees some teams stay and dance in the morning before leaving for home and this was no exception. Our hosts (who did a brilliant job the whole weekend) had organised a really nice dance spot at a well known local tourist rest place called Rheged and a good few teams had stayed overnight and rocked up there to put a good finish to a fine weekend. The teams rotated around the real estate until finally all converging on the large downstairs hall area where representatives of all the teams were involved in a final “massed dance” called Greenhams (I think) – anyway it was great fun.

A great weekend, we had super fun, it was lovely to meet lots of other teams dancing different styles of Morris and the weather was pretty good to us all.

Congratulations and thanks to the fabulous Belfagan Morris for organising such a brilliant event which went like clockwork and for looking after us all so well. No doubt they had a houlie of their own afterwards to celebrate the end of a long year of preparation….and we know what THAT’s like!! :)))

Marketing & Heritage…ing

It’s a busy period for us at the moment and it’s not over yet as we have dancing visits to come at Prees WI on Thursday 9th October and at NT Dudmaston for their Orchard Day on 12th October.

However, back up the days a little and Saturday 20th September saw something of a double header for us as we danced for Shifnal Farmer’s Market in the morning and then went on to dance at the Ironbridge Heritage Day Festival in the afternoon.

The Shrewsbury Morris bandwagon rolled into lovely Shifnal at 9.30 on a dull but warm Saturday morning and we did what we do best on arriving early at a dance venue….we got coffee!….and breakfast :)

We received our usual warm and friendly welcome from the Farmer’s Market staff (most of whom we know from Twitter anyway) and had a quick explore of the varied stalls (more Twitter buddies) on display as the rest of the team arrived.

Once we were all in place we began the first of our two 45 min dance spots and enjoyed a really good morning of energetic and fun dancing with a fair old crowd watching us and being very appreciative (not all Twitter friends…oh OK, some were!)

Just as we finished our second dance spot and were taking a break a lovely lady (@lajina on twitter) turned up with free, warm, just cooked bhajis – perfect timing! Whenever you present a Morris side with free food they never fail to disappoint with their appetites and this was no exception as the bhajis quickly disappeared as though they were going out of fashion!

Unexpected lunch devoured, we said our goodbyes to our market friends, mounted up and made our way to beautiful Ironbridge, where we had been offered free parking at The Station car park, not an area of the town that too many of us were familiar with but which looks extremely interesting and well worth a further visit. But this was dance business so we crossed the Ironbridge itself and amused ourselves for an hour amongst the many stalls and activities going on, before starting our first set right outside the Tontine Hotel in front of the Ironbridge – a great place to dance!

A very large crowd gathered to watch us and they were extremely lively and appreciative which always energises us a little more. The same happened at our second spot in The Square 45 minutes later which was marvellous for us. We even had some children joining in and had to pose for photos with them afterwards, which of course we were more than pleased to do, even though we are very shy and retiring (*coughs*…*splutters*)

All afternoon (in fact all day) our dancers and musicians were brilliant and I think we entertained lots of people on a pretty spectacular Heritage Festival Day. The feedback given to us by some of the spectators was really lovely and most kind which is always great to hear.

A tired but very happy Shrewsbury Morris made our way home with the applause and encouraging cheers still ringing in our collective ears….

…..and at least it didn’t rain :)))