Broad Wood Morris

Morris Dancing For All!
Broad Wood Morris

Morris Dance Aussie Rules! (You Can Get Your Oven Cleaned Too!)

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So, there we were, on the outskirts of a burning hot Melbourne, no shade to be seen, in our full Morris Dance outfits. And you know what we were doing? We were bloody dancing. Dancing the Morris in the burning heat was an experience you don’t get much here in the UK. It’s far more often about doing it in the drizzling rain. It’s not the best Morris dancing in the rain but its something I know, it’s something I can do, it’s something I find easy and comfortable and nice and normal. But if we only ever did what we already knew and could do and found easy and comfortable and nice and normal then we’d still be breast feeding like idiots.


No, we will not be giant man babies. We shall rise above our fears and travel to the other side of the world to Morris Dance. That’s bravery. That’s courage. That’s beasty awesome manliness. That’s where is at Y’ALL! So there we were staying with the Morris Dancers of a local Oven Cleaning business(, and dancing our fast overheating hearts out in the beaming brutal sun.

That’s what we did. We did it because we were asked to. We did it because it was new. We did it because we were spreading Morris Dancing culture. We did it because we got our ovens cleaned for free. My oven is now beautiful and good as new. Which is really super great.

Morris. Age. Death.

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I dance. I dance the Morris Dance. I dance it with friend and foe and I dance it with passion and love. That is how I dance it. It is a beautiful thing. It is a murderous thing. It is a dangerous thing. It is a thing, and a thing I love. Why do I love this thing? Well, because where would I be without it! What would I be doing without it? Why would I be awake without it? Why would anything be anything without it??? It gives me meaning, it gives me purpose, it gives me life and love and learning. It gives me everything I need to justify dragging my sack of bones and flesh through another day on this rock. Why do I get out of bed? To dance the morris. Why do I bother eating? So I have the energy to dance the Morris. Why do I bother with anything any of the time? To dance the morris. To dance the morris. To dance the morris.


To dance the morris. Because I need morris dancing and, of course, morris dancing needs me in a way. Where would morris dancing be without its dancers?


That’s right, nowhere. Empty town squares. Silent town squares. Devoid of the clanging of bells and the hitting of sticks. No longer would innocent pedestrians have to walk around morris dancers. It would be awful. Your morris dancing community needs YOU! And you need your morris dancing community. Now get involved. NOW.

Knock On Wood!

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As you all definitely know, a lot of what morris dancing is about is hitting wood together. It’s about picking up those sticks and doing that dance and hitting those sticks. If you haven’t felt the firm impact of your stick of dancing wood on another dancers wooden dancing stick then you haven’t lived and you don’t know what the heck you’re talking about! Morris dancing is like a battle, but a kind of battle where there is no risk and no harm. It’s like an adventure! Like a play! Like a sport! Like a hobby! But, also, kind of not really like any of those things…

But it’s all about wood really. That’s the real point. If you meet a true morris dancer they will have a lot to say about wood. ‘Wood?’ they will say, ‘Wood? Yeah I love wood! Wood is a fantastic thing my friend. I hate to see wood burnt, or used to build furniture or housing, I demand that it only be used to make dancing sticks!’ This is the kind of thing a Morris Dancer would say on the subject of wood and until very very recently, I would have said the same. But then something changed. And like all things that change everything, the thing that changed everything arrived in the post…


It was a wood pellet burner. A wood pellet burner is kind of like a little metal fire bbq box where you put in these special wood pellets and heat comes out. That’s right! Heat! You can heat your house, you can heat your shed, you can heat your children, you can heat your cat’s face. You can heat everything and anything and also some things! That’s the magic of heat my friends, and with wood pellet burners, even wood coveting morris dancers are queuing up to say ‘burn that wood!’!


A beautiful wood pellet burner.

So if it can convert me, it could convert anyone I reckon. Go grab yourself a burner!


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You know, Morris Dancing is obviously and essentially a performative cultural practise. It is all about how you appear and how you effect the audience, it is about the impression you leave ingrained into their mind at the end of your show. Is it one of joy? Is it one of pain and history? Is it perhaps one of the journey, of the eternal relationship, between life and death? The bells ring, they jingle and chime, the sticks butt together over heads, like the antlers of ancient Staggs fighting for food, fighting for life, fighting for death.


It can seem so placid, so asinine, almost dumb. Almost meaningless. But that is nonsense. That is just the easy prejudice of the outsider. It is how I feel when I hear young peoples music: I want to dismiss it, to assume it has as much inherent value as it has value I can find in it. But this is clearly not the case. It would be difficult for me to find the same value in a teenagers music that they do, just as outsiders might have to struggle to find the value in Morris Dancing that we find.


The costumes are getting more and more extravagant now. We have the amazing floral arrangements you can see above, but people also have customised fur bobble hats they wear in-between dances and special customised socks to really make their team stand out. It’s a vibrant and exciting community, one that offers much to those willing to put in the effort to understand it and try and find some value in what it gives you. Because it can give so much!  Because there is value there, it is a rich and growing world. So here is what I put to you: have you never discovered value somewhere that you thought there was none? Has that never happened to you? Because it happens to people every day and quite often at a Morris meet. So come along!

Why We Dance

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So look, I get it: ‘It’s not ‘Grand Theft Auto shoot all the people with a gun’ or whatever it’s called. It’s not ‘Super cool Game Of Thrones sledge hammer German shame porn’ or whatever. It’s not ‘mad bright colour Christiano Ronaldo yellow boots batman bullshit’ or whatever. It’s not a’ Twitter hate campaign McFlurry water boarding Beyonce party’ or whatever. It’s not Moon Pie. It’s not Cecil the Lion. It’s not Marty Mcfly. It’s not a man with an axe covered in blood screaming at the night’s sky. It’s Morris Dancing, and apparently that’s just not enough any more.



And why not? Why is Morris Dancing not enough for this generation? Is it because of the mad crazy break dancing firework shows that these kids have all been raised on? Is it because of all the e-numbers and all the Marilyn Manson and the Katy Perry and the Lady Gaga? Is it because of all the terrorism and the Atheism and the Facebook and the online shaming? Is it because of MTV and the Kardashian’s  and wild packs of hungry dogs and the fall of the Berlin Wall? Is it because of divorce rates and diversity and the war on Christmas? I don’t know. I think it is because of all things. Let’s just have a quick look at them:


–  mad crazy break dancing firework shows

–  e-numbers

–  the Marilyn Manson and the Katy Perry and the Lady Gaga

–  the terrorism

– the Atheism

– the Facebook

– the online shaming

– MTV and the Kardashian’s and wild packs of hungry dogs

– the fall of the Berlin Wall

– divorce rates and diversity and the war on Christmas


So the argument is that Morris Dancing is suffering because it is not those above things. Well good for Morris Dancing! Good for us! Why would we want to be those things! I don’t want to be those things. I don’t even want to think of those things. I don’t want to hear them or see them or know of them I just want to Morris dance, dance, dance!


– e-numbDANCE!

– the Marilyn ManDANCE!

– Lady GaDANCE!

– the terroriDANCE!