Wimbledon's Morris Dancers Welcome In May

Summer dance season is underway

Mayor of Merton, Councillor Krystal Miller, and her consort braved the early morning rain and chill to join friends and other early risers watch Greensleeves Morris Men, Wimbledon's own Morris dancing club, welcome summer and launch their 2014 summer dance season at crack of dawn on May Day at Wimbledon Windmill.

The mayor and other supporters were treated to a programme of traditional dances that started at 5.30am on May 1 at the Windmill on Wimbledon Common, SW19.

Coffee with rum was offered to all attending the sunrise performance to help ward off the early morning chill.

After joining in with an elevated performance in Brighton Camp, a popular Eynsham dance, the mayor then joined Greensleeves for a full English breakfast at Wimbledon Squash and Badminton Club.

“Thank you to Greensleeves. It’s been a lovely morning and a great way to start the summer. Morris dancing is very energetic and great fun,” commented Councillor Miller.

“I’m very impressed to see so many people get up early to welcome summer. It’s great to see a lovely English tradition preserved.

Performed every May Day, Greensleeves’ early morning Morris dance programme is one of Wimbledon’s lesser known annual traditions.

“This is one of the best turnouts we have had for May Day morning. We are delighted to have the Mayor with us as we value our role as Merton’s official Morris side,” said Chris Benson, Squire (leader) of Greensleeves Morris Men.

“You are sharing and enjoying a bit of English traditional culture. The first surviving records of Morris dancing in London date from 1448. We are following an old tradition. There has been Morris dancing in this area for hundreds of years.”

Following their Wimbledon Day of Dance, Greensleeves’ next confirmed public performance in Wimbledon will be on Friday 13 June when evening performances will take place at 8.00pm at the Alexandra Public House at 33, Wimbledon Hill Road, SW19 7NE, and at 9.00pm at the Crooked Billet Public House at 14, Crooked Billet, Wimbledon Common, SW19 4RQ.

“We have got an interesting dancing season ahead,” Benson said. “We have practiced hard over winter and now we have the chance to show our skills. We are looking forward to dancing out this summer.”

Founded in 1926, Greensleeves (www.greensleevesmorris.org.uk) is London’s longest established Morris dancing club and has been based in Wimbledon SW19 for the past 33 years.

Greensleeves meet for practice sessions every Friday evening from September to April from 8pm to 10pm at South Wimbledon Community Centre on Haydons Road.

This September Greensleeves will run a series of Friday open evenings throughout the month for those wanting to try the Morris for themselves.

Beginners are welcome and inquiries can be addressed to the club secretary (known as a Bagman) David Cooling on 07500-993993 or bagman@greensleevesmorris.org.uk.

May 10, 2013