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where England meets Wales. “It is simpler, looser, and more vigorous,” says Eddie.
Controversially, Border sides used to apply black face paint. “In June 2020, the Joint Morris Organisation called for the use of black make-up to be discontinued in response to Black Lives Matter,” she adds. “Groups that used face paint changed to blue, green, or yellow and black stripes. As a side, we decided we wouldn’t use face paint of any colour or description.”
Face paint has not been the only scandal to mire Morris in recent years. The Equality Act of 2019 forced all-male sides to finally admit women, although many so-called purists resisted. The Twitterati, who’d previously shown no interest in the ancient art, suddenly developed opinions. However, Eddie is diplomatic. “We don’t involve ourselves with the politics of other sides,” she says firmly.
The routines can look positively dangerous,
so has anybody been injured when sticks are clashed? “Often – but mainly bashed fingers and hands. It’s a sharp learning curve,” she admits. “Training a new dancer all depends on the person. Some people pick things
up straight away and others have two left feet. We can usually teach most people, though.
“Previous dance experience doesn’t necessarily help as a few dances are more complicated than others. However, there are often set moves common to many, so once you learn the move for one dance, you’ll know it for another. We don’t hop or skip – we step, either in a single or double pattern. Although Border Morris is loud and fast, it is kinder on the joints and way more fun than going to the gym.”
If this has unleashed a previously unrealised ambition to take up Morris as an unusual fitness regime, Slack Ma Girdle offers taster sessions. For more information, go to
http://www.slackmagirdle.com, access its Facebook page or send an email to slackmagirdlebag@gmail.com.
Meanwhile the side can be seen in action on a number of upcoming dates: the Lobster Potties Festival in Sheringham, Norfolk, on 2 & 3 July; the White Horse in Swaversey, Cambridge, on 6 July; Wickhambrook Carnival on 9 July; The Fox in Burwell, Cambridge, on 12 July; the Suffolk Steam- punk Festival at the Longshop Museum in Leiston on 17 July; the Red Lion in Stretham, near Ely, on 19 July; the Wheatsheaf in Exning on 2 August; and the Robin Hood in Cherry Hinton, Cambridge, on 9 August.
As Tess Daly is wont to say: Keeeeep dancing!
Pictures of Slack Ma Girdle’s dancers and musicians in action across East Anglia supplied by Slack Ma Girdle and Adrian Case.
CULTURE
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