How did Makeney Morris get started?

On a blustery night in the winter of 2012, three friends gathered at the Holly Bush Inn in Makeney, Derbyshire, for merriment and ale. The flagstone floors were warmed by an open fire, and the aroma of food and an absurd number of authentic ales tantalised their senses. As freezing winds howled outside, their minds wandered to languid summer days with lovely pictures including ice cream and festivals, disrupting the serenity with the clashing of sticks and jingling of bells. In a moment that will go down in history (or at least ours), two words strayed into a discussion, and thus Makeney Morris was born.

Members are former or current members of other sides. These Morris dancing evangelists went forth and dragged male and female Morris virgins into our world until the side contained an equal number of experienced and novice dancers.

Makeney Morris was cobbled together over the ensuing months and was formally established in September 2013 with practices in Belper, Derbyshire.

Deciding on Traditions

The first few hesitant months were spent deciding on traditions and practicing dances. We chose our uniform (black with orange and white baldrics) and elected our officers. Our newly appointed Squire fashioned for us baldricks and bell pads. We became part of the Morris Federation.

Twitter and Facebook accounts were created, as well as a logo. We practiced for two hours per week, changed our dances (gasp!) to suit our style, and then went for a pint at the local pub.
Makeney Morris at Derby Folk Festival

Derby Folk Festival

Our First Dance Out

Then, after eight months, our first morris dance performance occurred. On a bank holiday, during a beer festival, we were to dance in the exact pub where the team was formed. Obviously, this pleased a number of us. We arrived in biblical rain and were met with a crowd of several hundred people (with umbrellas). We had planned to dance only four dances, and it was with pounding hearts that we took the floor.

The subsequent fifteen minutes were a whirlwind of clashing sticks, disintegrating bell pads, leapfrogs, galleys, figures, and lines. We went wrong, we got wet, we didn’t care. As you viewed the line of dancers, you only saw smiles. We’d done it. Within eight months, we had created a side and gotten it dancing! The sense of pride and accomplishment was immense. This was the motivation behind our actions. This was exactly what we desired.
Makeney Morris at Sidmouth Folk Festival

Sidmouth Folk Festival

Makeney Morris is Now 10

We are currently in our tenth year and are still going strong. We have danced in countless pubs, villages, towns, and festivals.

We are extremely proud of our team and its members. The team is comprised of well-known local folk musicians as well as members of orchestras and touring bands. All of our musicians can also dance.

However, there is one thing about us that seems to surprise people the most: It’s not the black kit, the mixed team, the “tweaking” of traditions, or how high we can jump.

It’s our age.

We formed a team with an average age of 30 amidst widespread claims that Morris dancing is in decline and that young people are uninterested.

Why not visit us the next time you’re in Derbyshire? We would absolutely love to see you. In the coming years, we look forward to meeting new people and reuniting with old friends. Visit our Events Page to find out where we will be dancing.

Makeney Morris at Towersey Festival

Towersey Festival