50 years of dancing, 2018

50 Years of Dancing logoBrighton Morris began life as the University of Sussex Morris Men in autumn 1967, dancing out for the first time in 1968. We were started by the Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men (themselves formed in 1953) who were following up a Morris Ring drive to get more young people dancing.

For some years the two morris sides worked in parallel, with University dancers moving into Chanctonbury after graduation. Eventually, as more non-students joined the ‘university’ side, the teams became separate and the university team changed our name to Brighton Morris Men.

Since then we have created our own brand of (we hope) entertaining Cotswold dances, including several written by one of our members in our very own “Lewes Tradition”. 172 men and seven women have contributed to the team ethos. In our 50th year we had 52 active members, making us perhaps the largest Cotswold side in the world.

Scroll down for some pictures, including some from the early days.

2018 was our 50th dancing season. In the intervening half century we

  • danced across the UK from Aberdeen to Exeter, Norwich to Manchester, Guernsey and Jersey, France, Germany and Belgium
  • graced the stages of the Dome, Southbank and Barbican
  • established our annual Day of Dance, inviting morris teams to Brighton & Hove in celebration of our shared culture
  • helped promote a new green walking and cycle path in France
  • joined in town twinning celebrations between Lewes and the French city of Blois (including two visits to Blois)
  • spent a weekend in Drumshambo, Eire, that will live long in the memory
  • twice visited Germany at the invitation of the local male voice choir in Oberturkheim, Stuttgart
  • played a supporting role in the renaissance of English folk singer Shirley Collins MBE, our patron and friend
  • danced at over 162 different pubs in Brighton and Sussex
  • and along the way, brought smiles to thousands of people, their children and dogs, provided photo-opportunities for tourists of many nations, modelled for a fashion shoot, sung ourselves hoarse, and supported our local brewery, the famous Harvey’s of Lewes (we won’t be druv).

Our 50th season included a special anniversary feast for past and present members and their guests (pictures below), an award-winning entry in the Sidmouth Jig competition (best veteran musician, best veteran dancer, second place double jig) and dancing at Towersey Festival over the August Bank Holiday. To mark our anniversary year Brighton photographer Barry Pitman also produced a book of his own photos of Brighton Morris and friends under the title ‘Improbably Nimble’ (taken from a newspaper review of one of our London concerts supporting Shirley Collins).

And here are some photos from our 50th anniversary feast on 15 June 2018