THE DAY of Dance and Medieval Market brought mayhem and a fantastic spectacle to Horsham last Saturday (12 May). In what can only be described as a ‘magical atmosphere’, the gathering of Morris sides and other performers throughout the town centre was totally uplifting.
This year’s Day of Dance was always planned to be bigger and better than usual in order to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Broadwood Morris Men, who formed in 1972. For the past few years, there have been around 18 guest dance groups, or ‘sides’ in Morris parlance.
This year, they managed to exceed that superbly with 31 sides in total, dancing or performing around Horsham town centre.
From the young girls of Farlingham school, aged eight to 10 years, who attended for the very first time to the regular stalwarts of Ewell St Mary Morris from Surrey.
Other groups joined us from as far a field as Rochester in Kent (Wolfshead and Vixen Morris), Portsmouth (Victory Morris Men), and from all over Sussex. We were joined for the second year by the very popular Pentacle Drummers from Eastbourne, a colourful and loud drum troupe who are becoming a firm favourite with the Horsham crowds.
Dance styles varied considerably from the traditional English Cotswold Morris as danced by local sides, the Broadwood Morris Men and Black Dragon Morris; the sedate Garland and Stave dances of local side Magog and of Fleur De Lys Morris amongst others; and the traditional North West clog dances as demonstrated beautifully by the likes of Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men, Sun Oak, and Phoenix Clog.
The darker side of Morris was represented too with the Border dances by the fantastic men and women of Wolfshead and Vixen, and the energetic, masked dancers of crowd favourites, Mythago Morris, from Ashurst.
Mixed amongst market stallholders who returned to their medieval roots, the ‘sides’ performed both traditional and contemporary dances and music.
Amongst the stallholders who really went the extra medieval mile was the Sussex Faire monk boasting Horsham’s own Holy Grail, some really poor peasants on the fruit and veg, Connoisseur coffee stall and Garlicwood’s rare breed burger stall and even Lady Godiva taking her rightful place at Wimblehurst Chocolates.
However, the main prizes went to Juli Stone as a fetching Medieval Lady on her traditional stained glass stall and Just Brownies with a fabulous take on medieval flavours served to you by the Jester Brownie.
Article contributed by the Broadwood Morris Men and Horsham Markets
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