Golden Star Morris was formed in 1979 in the pub of the same name on Colegate in Norwich. The landlord contributed to the initial purchase of kit and the side practised over the winter and danced out in 1980. Golden Star was the first Morris side in the local area with men and women dancing together, quite a radical thing at that time.
We perform the traditional Morris dances from the Cotswolds with both sticks and hankies. We can be recognised by our kit of red socks and gold, brown and red baldricks bearing the distinctive Golden Star emblem and worn over a white shirt.
We perform at fairs, festivals and events both locally and throughout the UK, and occasionally overseas. In addition we dance at sunrise on May Day at St James’ Hill in Norwich and have an annual Christmas day of dance.We can also be found performing at pubs on summer evenings, either in the city or surrounding villages, often finishing with some tunes or songs over a pint or two.
The first mentions of Morris are from the 15th century as a courtly entertainment. One of the earliest references comes from Norfolk in the ‘Paston letters’ written by the family who owned Caister Castle near Great Yarmouth.
By the 16th century parish churches and town guilds were supporting Morris dancers to help raise money. The Reformation dissolved the guilds, after which Morris dancing became divorced from its old context and continued purely as a form of busking or begging.
In the eighteenth century Morris was incredibly popular in the Cotswolds, with many villages having a ‘side’ and occasionally rich landowners too! By the 19th century Morris dancing was performed by labourers in need of money when work was short.
On Boxing Day 1899, Cecil Sharp saw the Headington Quarry men dancing and was inspired to embark on a major campaign of collecting all the surviving Morris dances and tunes. He published them in the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) journal.
Since then, lots of Morris sides have been formed, especially during the 1970s. Extinct traditions have been revived and lots of new dances written. Today there are more people dancing the Morris than at any time in its history!
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