Many roads will be closed in Warwick town centre tomorrow (Sat) as morris men from throughout the county gather in a bid to set a new world record.
Women too will be among the dancers in the 17 “sides” who have agreed to not only perform throughout the town from 10am onwards but to gather in Swan Street at 3pm for the record attempt.
The term ‘sides’ simply refers to the fact that most of the traditional dances involve lines with people standing on either side.
Allan Smith, the squire of Warwick’s own Plum Jerkum Border Morris, said: “The current Guinness Book of Records records there were 88 people all performing the same dance at Moreton in Marsh for five minutes in 1999.
“We hope to be able to beat that with well in excess of 100 morris, clog, border, black-face and other sides, all gathering to perform the Bromsberrow Heath dance at 3pm.
“This will be a fantastic opportunity to witness a whole day of dance in Warwick and a great way to celebrate the town’s 1,100 anniversary with what we sincerely hope will be a new world record.”
Black-faced morris men illustrate at least one root of this seemingly very English tradition. The word morris probably comes from ‘morys’ and relates to the Moors who would have been seen in England in the 15th century.
The Bromsberrow Heath dance originates in the Gloucestershire village of the same name and has relatively simple steps that Allan believes will suit all the varied groups and be the best way of keeping them together..
If nothing else the attempt will be loud and colourful.
Kenilworth councillor Dave Shilton will be one of the witnesses to the dance and vouch for it being carried out in accordance with the Guinness Book of Records’ rules.
Among the local sides taking part will be the Kenilworth-based Chinewrde women’s side who specialise in North West Clog morris dancing,
Also performing will be the Faithful City side from the Cotswolds who have a Rapper sword dance as part of their routine, Belle d’Vain from Evesham and the Ironmen Welsh bonder dancers from Shropshire.
Market Place will also boast a maypole for adults and children to have a go.
To see individual sides before the mass gathering in Swan Street, it’s suggested visitors check not only the square but outside the Rose and Crown and the Thomas Oken Tea Rooms.
Warwick Castle will also host a series of performances. Sadly only paying customers will be able to see those sides, before they emerge back into the town to dance freely.