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Glam morris - and they never fluff their lines

Monaco Morris Dancers are looking for new members, writes our errant columnist, BANBURY BILL. Nothing new in that, but hang on - Monaco? Will they pay for the flights? Do they keep the bag in Zurich?

Sadly, I must disappoint would-be members of the morris jet-set, unless they hanker for the sunshine and glamour of Eccles.

The Monaco Morris website doesn't explain why a team from a suburb of Manchester, UK, should have adopted such an upmarket name. Perhaps they want to avoid associations with cakes, and men with silly voices on the BBC Home Service.

But the site does spell out how desperate things have become on the recruitment front. As I write, they're down to their last 45 dancers.

In fluffy morris, as it's known to some of us (is this really a flattering name for it?), 45 girls is barely scraping together a team. At one time they were up to 60, and the lines were a sight to be seen.

Lines, apparently, are a big deal in fluffy morris, if this extract from the site is any guide:

"The four trainers of the lines," we are told, "started morris dancing at the once great Monton Ladybirds in the seventies, and then at Barton Hi-Flyers (which was run by Cheryl's mum Gloria)."

Personally, I think it's great to see this "other morris" featured on John Maher's wonderful MMD site. There's a vast morris culture here that many stick-bashers and the like will know little about. Witness this insight:

"We have danced the last three seasons, mainly with the now disbanded ADMO, and made a few appearances at other organisations such as HAMDA and IMDA. This year, we will be mainly dancing for a new organisation, WLDA."

What are these strange bodies? What's their policy on beards? The last-named is the West Lancashire Dancing Association, but as for the rest, perhaps it was thought better we shouldn't know.

For those still baffled, I should explain that this is a phenomenon that has thrived in the north west of England, in almost complete isolation from the other dance forms with which it shares a name. I've never seen fluffy morris, but I gather that those who say majorettes are an American affair should think again - that sort of thing has been carried for decades up Manchester way, and it's as English as you like.

With pom-poms.

And as for the notion that only men should dance morris - in Eccles, that would have them rolling in the lines.

Men? Dancing morris? They'll be wearing dresses next....

Banbury Bill's flippant comments about Monaco Morris have drawn an informative response from the team. See Letters To The Donkey

Mainly Morris Dancing
Monaco Morris Dancers

2001 Simon Pipe, Mark Rogers

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