American Morris Newsletter  

American Morris Newsletter

Volume 25, Number 1
April, 2005

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News from the Rest of the Empire

"I am interested in maintaining contact with yourself and the Morris scene generally in the States. After all, we colonials should stick together!" -- John Milce, Australasian Morris Ring, Squire. 
American Morris Newsletter, January, 1980, Volume 3, Number 4, page 6

Oz Morris Happenings

From: Kowari (, dated April 1, 2005
Greetings! The Antipodean correspondant here. Also known as Squire of the Australian Morris Ring, Gail, or more commonly, "Hey You".

The weekend past (as in Easter weekend) was the weekend of the National Folk Festival. It is a time when constitutionally all Morris types in Australia (and occasionally, from NZ as well) descend on our magnificent capital city (That's Canberra, NOT SYDNEY, in case you were wondering) and dance a lot.
This year, there were 5 full sides who made the long journeys from their respective homes. This is a great success, I feel, for Morrising. This included a new side called Black Joak, from Sydney. The other sides who made it were: Belswagger (Toowoomba, Queensland), Molongolo Mayhem (from Canberra, they don't have an excuse to not turn up!), Longford (from Launceston, Tasmania), some Jolley Hatters (also from Tassie), Brandragon North West Morris (My side, from Melbourne, Victoria) and a couple of Britannia Morris Men (also from Melbourne), and Aukland Morris (from NZ). I don't think I left anyone out in that list.

First of all, there was much Morrising. We caused all kinds of confusion and excitement. Brandragon did  a spot for an English Ceili (while the band had a rest, and so did the Ceili dancers, most of which were from Brandragon anyway). The band was quite illustrious (being the Brian Peters All Stars, for those of you who know who Brian Peters is - amazing is who Brian Peters is) and I had to get up in front of expert squeeze box players and fumble my way through tunes I don't know very well, because normally I am needed to dance them. On the up side, I can now play passing well all my sides tunes bar one (which isn't a Morris tune anyway). But I digress...

Longford performed spectacularly in their spot (they were a booked side) and did their workshop masterfully, as did Molongolo with their usual aplomb.  The next group effort was the Ring Ale on the Dance Blackboard for a couple of hours. This had unusually high attendance, probably due to the rumour that my cohort, the Bag had beer tickets for those who danced. We also provided food, and there were many dancers as audience (which I thought was a pretty good effort) and a morrising good time was had by all. This was a departure from tradition (usually, the Ring Ale is held offsite at a pub. But due to underwhelming response when I asked the question, I decided on site would be more fun). It was an apparent success, and we will try again with a longer blackboard spot next year.

The Dance blackboard (in case you don't know what that is) is a dance floor, with a blackboard out the front, and dance groups can use it as practice space, or experimental dance space or whatever - it's a dancers' open mike.

We also had our AGM (which was a bit of a venue disaster. I blame the home-brewing workshop... who has POETRY readings at a homebrew workshop? I mean, really). So I decided a cold and upright AGM was a quick AGM, and despite venue disasters, was reinstated as Squire for another year. I did try to deliver the Squire's report through interpretive dance, but  quickly realised that no one else there spoke bee-dance, and everyone was laughing at my bum waggling. So, I stopped. There were important questions about insurance (and we all tried to be serious for a moment), and not so important questions about singing and bee dancing.

The next group thing was the massed Morris, which was very successful. But just prior to the Massed Morris performance, there was a Dance off. Belly Dancers versus Morris Dancers. I daresay that the Morris dancers won. Black Joak challenged the Belly dancers (or so I hear, I may possibly be wrong) in typical Morris Dancer style. They, of course, got in over their heads... none of them really being able to belly dance. Fortunately, there were at least 2 Brandragons who can actually belly dance as well as Morris, and far too many slightly pudgy Cotswold men willing to show off their hairy nipples and get up and attempt to wiggle around. We gave it a good go, and a vastly amusing time was had by all... Including an attempt by the belly dancers to encircle Brandragon and squeeze them into not dancing. But Brandragon caught them at their game and CHARGED AT THEM (well, it is actually part of the dance, but the belly dancers didn't know that and hastily got out of the way, thereby foiling their squeezing plans.)

We also did a bit of busking around the place, but since that was on the last day of the festival, and everyone had been carousing, drinking and dancing for 4 days previous, it was a little low key. 

In all, NFF 2005 was a great success and a fantastic time was had by all. I am sure there is more that went on that I am aware of (I know there was dancing until the wee hours of the morning in the Session Bar, but I had fallen asleep long before that, as much as I tried to stay conscious).

So, until next time...
Gail Miller 
Squire, Australasian Morris Ring (
Antipodean Correspondant
 AMN, Vol. 25, No. 1, April 2005  ISSN: 1074-2689