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Q: Where does Morris dancing come from and how old is it?
A: Nobody can say for certain but the origins are thought to have been the popular “Mourisca” or Moorish dancing brought to England in the 15th and 16th centuries. Morris is thought to have been a corruption of this.
Q: Where are you from?
A: We practice during the Winter in Lichfield, north of Birmingham, but the members come from a wide area. Come and see what we do and join in with us at The George IV (next to The Guildhall), 34 Bore Street, Lichfield WS13 6LU. We will be in the room at the rear of the pub from 8 to 10pm on Tuesdays. Dancers and musicians are welcome.
Q: Why do you do it?
A: In part it’s to keep alive the tradition, a bit like belonging to a re-enactment group, and in part because it’s fun, a way of keeping fit and enjoying the company of the rest of the team.
Q: What’s that on your tabard?
A: That’s the Green Man. He is really a pagan god that found its way into the churches in the form of carvings of heads surrounded by leaves. He is an old fertility symbol – the spirit of the woods and trees.
Q: Why hasn’t he got a head on his tabard?
A: He’s an apprentice. When he can dance really well he’ll do a solo jig (dance) to earn the right to wear it.
Q: Why is that dancer wearing a chain and why does it have names on it?
A: Because he is the annually elected Squire (Chairman) and this is his badge of office. The links on the chain have the names of those members of the Club who have been Squire previously.
Q: Why are you called Green Man’s Morris?
A: When the Birmingham Boys team grew up, they didn’t want to be “boys” any more. They started meeting to practice at the “Green Man” pub in Bromford Lane, Erdington. Either by co-incidence or design, they agreed that the name of the club should be the same name as the pub, especially as the Green Man has a traditional meaning as well. Later, the pub was re-named The Lad in the Lane.
Q: Do you have to be fit to do it or am I too old?
A: If you can walk at a brisk pace for 15 to 20 minutes then you should be O.K. If you have a heart condition then it would be wise to consult a doctor before taking up any physical activity. Most dances last 3 to 4 minutes at the most, so you get a breather when you are putting on a show. We know dancers into their eighties who can still dance a mean Morris.
If you had a heart condition and still wanted to take part, you might think about taking up an instrument. Players are always needed.
Q: Where do you get your costume from?
A: We make it. Kit always belongs to the team. We have a quartermaster who is in charge of the costuming for the team.
Q: How often to you practice?
A: Most Morris teams spend from September to May in regular weekly practice sessions, and don’t dance out much. They spend the rest of the year out dancing in public one way or another, unless there is a really important show when extra practice sessions may be asked for.
Q: How old is the Club?
A: Over 50 years.