Formed in 1994 we are a mixed-sex Morris dancing side principally performing dances in the Border tradition. We practice in the village of Bricket Wood in Hertfordshire, England (near St. Albans, Watford and London). In our quest for an appropriate, original and witty name for the Side, we deduced that a spoonerism of our home base might conjure up images of a mysterious assembly of dark shadowy characters keeping alive ancient rituals and traditions. Maybe that was wishful thinking but it’s a name and we like it!
The dances we perform originate from a number of sources. Some have been obtained from documented notations of dances performed many years ago by some of the original Border Morris teams from Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. Some of these were very fragmented, some just based on personal recollections, and a certain amount of interpretation was required. Other dances are more contemporary, either being developed by ourselves, or obtained from other similar sides. We hope that the variety provides an interesting contrast for our audiences.
Our costumes are based on traditional sources and we hope, present a colourful and interesting sight. Our ‘tatter’ jackets are purple, green, and black – all are similar but a degree of individual flair is allowed! Black trousers, stout boots of purple, green or black, and hats of similar colours complete the scene. In common with many Border Morris sides, our faces are painted, (originally thought to be a form of disguise), and again black, purple and green paints are used in varied combinations. Most of our dances are performed with stout sticks, either long or short depending on the dance.
Our side would not be complete without its musicians. Several of the side play in local Barn Dance or Folk bands, and the music for the dances is played on a variety of instruments – melodeons, accordions, whistles, saxophone, drums, tambourines and other percussion.