Mudcat Café message #2534085 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #117529   Message #2534085
Posted By: GUEST,Jemma Gurney
07-Jan-09 - 10:43 AM
Thread Name: Morris joins the Dodo?
Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
I think mike is right too - This thing about "young people being too embarrassed" indicates they think morris is uncool. I think an essential part of anything being cool is for it to have an air of quite confidence - to pretend that it doesn't care whether it's cool or not. As such - jumping up and down to prove your cool-ness indicatively makes you uncool!

I morris dance primarily for sociable reasons. I love going out for the weekend with Pecsaetan - we are all similar ages, we have similar concerns, and we have a huge laugh in each other's company.

For more established sides to self perpetuate I think they need that critical mass of youngsters (at least four) such they can spark off each other and have fun on their own terms. And if they have plenty of opportunity to meet up with other teams with youngsters so much the better watching the Great Western and Martha Roddens / Shropshire Bedlams teenagers all as high as kites together in the ceilidhs at sidmouth this blatantly proves that. Don't underestimate the power of teenage flirtation in keeping their interest in a hobby!

In addition, all the Cotswold teams I can think of with a reasonable youth contingent have relatively subtle kits, plus the standard of dancing within the team (both younger and older members alike) is above the normal, and that definitely helps. If you are taking part in a hobby that is deemed by most of the population as being the uncoolest thing on earth it's very important to be able to think "ah, but my teams better than most of the others, and that makes it ok for me to do it" and "at least I don't look like a complete burke in my kit".

Getting that critical mass of youth in a team in the first place is, I guess, the hardest thing to do. And the only effective way this can be achieved (IMHO) is at a very grass roots level i.e. taking friends of your kids to festivals / morris weekends. Or organising school activities, but making sure that school activity then gets and chance to go to a festival where there are other kids are at. Watching other people enjoying themselves morris dancing is going to be by far the biggest enticement into taking part yourself whatever your age. And this can't be done through the tele you have to be there to get the feeling of the atmosphere and the time to hang around and drink beer (when you are old enough, of course!), to talk crap and interact as well as dance.

In a similar form this is why things like shooting roots / demon barbers / folkworks youth summer schools are so successful and so important. Providing amazing tutors that can easily gain the respect of younger generations and simultaneously giving them the chance to meet friends and have a laugh is a key combination.

Hence, if I was the morris ring, I would devote my efforts into encouraging practical ways of getting younger people to morris events that are fun, or getting the 18 year olds from Great Western / Bristol to go and each the 13 year olds in some other team for a weekend etc.

For morris to become more socially acceptable it needs to increase in numbers and standards from the roots up, in a quietly confident way as a fairly underground activity. Mass media publicity is so not the way to do it.

(p.s. apologies for the length of this post I must learn to be more consise!)