Review of the JMO 20th birthday regional day of dance on 9th September 2023.
Judy Buckley of Ripley Green Garters writes:
“The JMO Day of Dance for the Midlands Region was held in Belper in September on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year for this small Derbyshire town. The town is historically important being part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. There is a wide range of pubs, cafes, and restaurants in close proximity to the main shopping street.
“Although Belper is not far from our name town, Ripley Green Garters have rarely danced there, so it was a great opportunity for us to do so, sharing the day of dance with 10 other sides. Ripley Green Garters were the only North West Clog Morris side attending. We were delighted to be there having not attended a Day of Dance since being in Perth pre COVID.
“With just 10 other sides to see, being in a smaller setting rather than in a large city with its hustle and bustle made the day more intimate and gave us the opportunity to watch almost every other side perform. Throughout the day the people of Belper were interested in the performances and took time to pause and watch. “It was nice to see some old traditions still being practised.”
“Several local businesses were very happy to have been involved and were welcoming to the dancers. At our first spot, shared with Stafford and Uttoxeter Morris, we were given our choice of (non – alcoholic) drinks which started the day well, especially with the jug of iced water before we moved on to our second spot!
“A large conifer with spreading branches provided welcome shade for both musicians and dancers at our second spot at The Memorial Gardens where we were joined by Lady Bay Revellers and our host side Ripley Morris. Dancing here took place on a higher level than the street so it felt like being on a platform with the audience standing on the pavement below a wall looking up at us all.
“Shoppers as well as visitors to the town were welcoming and curious, stopping us in the street as we moved around town and asking about the event and where they could see more dancing.
“A comment from social media on Facebook noted “lots of Morris Dancers around town today, a great spectacle, and really nice to see people appreciate them. Great entertainment.”
“Our third spot was at The Devonshire, an old coaching inn on the A6 where we were joined by the youthful local side Makeney Morris. At another spot we were joined by Greenwood Clog from Nottinghamshire. We laughed at the antics of local Open Morris side Fleet Folkloric Forum and their inventive use of hobby horses.
“We then moved on to The Railway. This pub acted as the focal point of the day’s events and featured dance displays from 10.30 to 4.15 as well as providing the setting for the after dance session with Ripley Morris, Dolphin Morris and a Lincoln and Micklebarrow member which went on until around 6.30. Most sides were able to perform in the large seating area behind the pub. Feet First Appalachian dancers were based here for the day. They gave all their well received and skilful performances in the shade of a gazebo. Ripley Green Garters joined Border side Bakanalia from Leicestershire for their spot at The Railway. The dancers attracted the attention of pub customers and passers-by who had a good view of the entertainment along the high shaded path on their way to the shops.
“Ripley Green Garters were mainly dancing dances for six so it was fun to watch the larger teams – Bakanalia and T’owd Man Border Morris – giving energetic performances at the end of the day.
“Then it was back to the Railway for a group photo and a final jig, as the President of the Morris Federation, Pauline Woods Wilson, joined with Squire of the Morris Ring, Nigel Strudwick, in dancing The Nutting Girl from Fieldtown accompanied by Lady Bay Revellers’ musician, Yvonne Walters, from the Open Morris.
“A fitting end to this first of a series of JMO Regional Days being held to celebrate 20 years since the exemption of Morris Dancing from the Licensing Act of 2003.
Two further comments:
“What a brilliant day. What amazing groups of wonderful people, and it brought smiles to the faces of Belper people.”
“They all did very well in this heat. Thank you Ripley Morris for organising such a wonderful event.”
by Judy Buckley of Ripley Green Garters
Teams attending were:
|Team||Area||Dance style||Web site||Member of|
|Bakanalia Border Morris||Leicester, Leicestershire||Border||https://www.bakanalia.co.uk/||Morris Federation|
|Dolphin Morris||Kingston-upon-Soar, Nottingham||Cotswold||https://www.dolphin-morris.co.uk/||Morris Ring|
|Feet First||Chesterfield, Derbyshire||Appalachian||http://feetfirstweb.brinkster.net/Home_Page.asp||Morris Federation|
|Fleet Folkloric Forum||Belper, Derbyshire||Various||Fleet Folkloric’s Facebook page||Open Morris|
|Greenwood Step Clog||Nottingham, Nottinghamshire||Clog Step||http://www.chezfred.org.uk/gwd/||Morris Federation|
|Lady Bay Revellers||Nottingham, Nottinghamshire||Cotswold||https://www.ladybayrevellersmorris.uk/||Open Morris|
|Makeney Morris||Belper, Derbyshire||Cotswold||https://www.makeneymorris.org.uk/||Morris Federation|
|Ripley Morris||Fritchley, Derbyshire||Cotswold||https://www.ripleymorris.org.uk/||Morris Ring|
|Ripley Green Garters||Ripley, Derbyshire||North West, Garland||https://ripleygreengarters.co.uk/||Morris Federation|
|Stafford Morris||Stafford, Staffordshire||Cotswold||https://staffordmorris.weebly.com/||Morris Ring|
|Uttoxeter Morris||Uttoxeter, Staffordshire||Cotswold||https://www.uttoxetermorris.co.uk/||Morris Ring|
|T’Owd Man Border Morris||Matlock, Derbyshire||Border||https://www.towdmanmorris.uk/||Morris Federation|