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JMO 20th DoD in Bath – a Review of Events

Review of the JMO 20th birthday regional day of dance on Saturday 7th October 2023.

Representatives of all Sides present

A Review by Drew Knight

36 Morris and Sword teams travelling across from the South of England, and as far north as Birmingham, visited Bath for the celebratory day of dance. This marked 20 years from the joining of the 3 Morris organisations to protest against the Licensing Act and win an exemption for Morris Dance. From this first collaboration the JMO (Joint Morris Organisation) was built and friendships extended across all areas of the Morris World.

Sides with long histories and sides just formed were present. In some cases, this was the first public dance out for some sides, with new dancers all doing themselves a lot of credit and offering splendid performances.

Represented were sides dancing Cotswold, North West, Border, Stave, Rapper and Step Clog (Canadian, English and Welsh).

After a gathering at the beginning of the day in Kingston Parade with welcome speech and Show Dancing, the sides dispersed to 12 locations in the City to dance and entertain the public. At lunchtime, impromptu music sessions were formed to continue the entertainment and for the enjoyment of the musicians; all adding to the atmosphere of the day. 

At the outset of this series of events (of which there are 6 in total) members of the committees of the 3 organisations (where possible) joined to dance together – in Bath, this was Jess Searle and Drew Knight for The Morris Federation, Jen Cox for Open Morris, Grant Glanville for The Morris Ring and Fee Lock for the JMO – who together performed Bledington ‘Ladies of Pleasure’ at the start of the day. Show dances by Holt Morris; Bristol Morris Men, Somerset Morris and Mendip Morris followed.

At this point I moved off with my team to the first spot. This went without a hitch for the most part – all the teams know how it works – we danced, watched, made purchases from the fruit stall and generally enjoyed the ambiance. At one point, we were unexpectedly joined by a bounding Labrador who was very keen on the sticks, but thankfully our superb steward successfully caught the dog by its lead and kept it safely entertained until the owner had a chance to catch up, which happened to coincide with the end of the dance! This was the only minor mishap of the day, with the rest rolling along smoothly.

Bath is a lovely place to dance with many good sites and majestic back drops – the population and tourists engaged well with the dancing, with both good humour and interest. I spoke to many tourists who were enamoured with the expression of culture we were providing – clearly enhancing their experience of Bath. 

Full credit to members of the Show Teams from whom most of the stewards were drawn, and among whose ranks the organisers are members – without them none of this would have been possible.

Secretary – The Morris Federation. (Oct 2023)

A Sword Dancer’s Eye View of the Day!

I was very proud to take part in the ‘JMO Jig’ at the beginning of the day. This lovely tradition has been born as a result of organising these events around the country, and seems a very fitting way to showcase the friendship and good teamwork that characterises the JMO these days.

JMO Jig, Bath 2023

After hurriedly changing into rapper kit, Mabel Gubbins set off in earnest to begin our tour of Bath. The organisers had very kindly and skilfully selected nice flat surfaces for us to dance on, so we didn’t feel the lack of wooden pub floors too badly, and enjoyed dancing on the wooden stepping floor at our second spot. It was great to dance with some teams we hadn’t met before, as well as some old friends, and the odd family member! We enjoyed showcasing our multitalented membership too, as in addition to rapper we were able to perform step clog dances and Cotswold jigs during the day.

Bath in the glorious sunshine was a delightful place to dance, with lots of appreciative audiences throughout the day, and it was nice to cap the day with a joining-in dance at our last spot with Owlswick and Styx of Stroud.

Many thanks to all the organisers for a great day out, and an excellent showcase for the Morris!

Jen Cox
Chair of Open Morris

A View from Mendip Morris

The JMO Regional Day of Dance in Bath on 7th October was a great day and all the Mendip Morris dancers and musicians had a wonderful time. Huge thanks and appreciation to the organisers who made it such a relaxed, friendly and well-organised day.

The journey into Bath on the Park and Ride bus set the tone for the rest of the day – catching up and banter with other Morris sides, curiosity and interest from the general public, and appreciation that the day’s organisers had arranged such a beautiful, sunny, warm day. Registration done, a coffee venue was chosen according to whether it had a loo!

We were scheduled to do a Show Dance, being fairly local to Bath, and felt honoured to be able to dance our own dance, Priddy Fair – named after a small hamlet at the top of the Mendips, famous for its sheep fair and folk festival. That done, we set off for our first dance venue.

During the day we danced at several more stops, enjoying the company of different Morris sides, some of whom we knew, others that we got to know. There are many abiding memories, but the ones that have stayed in my mind have mostly been of the audience being interested and having a great time themselves. We had lots of questions about Morris dancing and the day of dance itself from interested locals and visitors to Bath – some overseas visitors saying that it had made their visit to Bath very special. We had children jigging along to the music and watching on entranced – and their faces lighting up when we gave them a badge.

As for the hen party we encountered… well, what more can I say!

As a side, we had a great time too, being able to spend time with each other and with other sides over a few beers at lunchtime.

We were pretty exhausted by the end of the day, but getting the Park and Ride bus was not for the faint-hearted as the home rugby game had just finished. Curiosity and interest in Morris dancing continued on the bus, with lively discussions with rugby supporters about all things Morris…well, and rugby! It was a fun end to a wonderful day.

To the organisers of the day – you have our respect and admiration. Thanks for making the day run so smoothly and for all of your hard work behind the scenes. You were amazing!

Pauline Heslop
Mendip Morris

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