The story of Brighton Morris

The Sussex Loops | The origins of morris dancing – allegedly

Brighton Morris began 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 national drive to get more young people dancing.

To start with, the University dancers moved into the Chanctonbury side after graduation. Eventually, as more non-students joined the ‘university’ side, the teams separated and the university team changed our name to Brighton Morris Men. We celebrated our half-century in 2018.

Brighton morris dancers c1987 standing outside iron gates
1987 (or thereabouts); the early years

In our time we have:

  • danced across the UK from Aberdeen to Exeter, Norwich to Manchester 
  • crossed the seas to Guernsey and Jersey, France, Germany and Belgium
  • appeared on stage at the Brighton Dome, and at the South Bank and the Barbican in London
  • established our annual Day of Dance,
  • won awards at the annual Sidmouth Festival Jig Competition,
  • promoted 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)
  • been guests of honour at a cultural festival in Drumshambo, Eire, that will live long in the memory
  • twice performed in Stuttgart at the invitation of a local male voice choir 
  • played a supporting role in the renaissance of English folk singer Shirley Collins, our patron and friend
  • danced at too many pubs in Brighton and Sussex to list 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).

To mark our 50th anniversary in 2018, Brighton photographer Barry Pitman produced a book of his own photographs of Brighton Morris and friends under the title ‘Improbably Nimble’ (taken from a newspaper review of one of our London concerts supporting Shirley Collins).

The Sussex Loops

logo showing the Sussex Loops and the words Brighton Morris Men 50 years of dancing

Our logo is a drawing of one of the Sussex Loops, Bronze Age bands (3,500 + years old) of unknown purpose, unique to Sussex. Two of these are currently housed in Brighton and Hove museum. Only a dozen or so of the loops have ever been found, and no-one is sure of their purpose. Somehow it felt appropriate for us to appropriate them. This is the version we used in our anniversary year, 2018.

Follow us on facebook and twitter | Contact us