In praise of Morris Dancing

Last weekend was the Big Apple Festival in Herefordshire. It’s a small scale event involving a few local apple and cider producers within a number of small communities but it has authenticity in bags (as well as apples).

But the interesting thing for me was the Morris Dancing provided by the Leominster Morris Men. The group of 8 dancers plus musicians performed at various venues with dances from around the west of England before inviting participation from the audience, young and old. They were entertaining and engaging, delivering their performances with wit and charm and not taking themselves terribly seriously. And they and their dances were so authentically English you could eat it up. And yet the English generally, and tourism marketers specifically, seem embarrassed by Morris Dancing. It is hardly up there as a cultural icon, and often spoken off disparagingly. As an incomer and a Scot I’m aware I

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don’t carry any baggage (we have plenty of our own) so I think it is great and it is about time Morris Dancing was recognised for its long heritage, its entertainment value and – that rarest of tourism commodities – its authenticity.