Mad dogs and Englishmen
Noel Coward performs his famous song

Mad dogs and Englishman
Go out in the midday sun.

I’m here to slightly amend this piece of accepted wisdom on the English psyche from the pen of Noel Cowerd  The bloody idiots will not only go out in the midday sun, but will also dress up in colourful clothing and perform relatively unknown traditional English dances throughout the evening having just had an hours kip after their noonday jaunt. And its not just the men these daze, its the wimmin too. They’re mad buggers the lot of them!!!!

post for Stevenage Sword page
SSWord at St Michaels Weds 1st July 2015

Stevenage Sword Dancers
barely made it through yesterday’s annual gathering of the morris, sword and other dance sides local to St Albans, at St. Michaels evening of folk song, music and dance. Despite the oppressive heat and humidity, every side tried to perform as best they could, and to me our good friends and tour buddies Bricket Wood Border Morris Dancers did well to keep their enthusiasm and energy-levels reasonably high throughout the evening. Most of the Cotswold Dancers that I got a chance to see, seemed very good and fairly precise, given the conditions and they all seemed to move well together – the real key arts of what good Morris is all about. The Sword did their usual 3 spots in the road, performing 2 dances at each spot plus our traditional unofficial dance INSIDE the Rose and Crown, accompanied by the assembled folk musicians whose session we traditionally interrupt and temporarily take over.

Our main dance, the Newbiggin Rapper Sword dance used to be traditionally performed by a group of coal-miners working their way around the pubs and offering an impromptu floor spot in the hopes of collecting some beer money which all got spent at the last pub. In addition to our tip of the hat to tradition, rapper sword dancing is in our experienced view, always best seen in the relatively quiet confines of a pub, preferably one with a hard floor, but not carpeted. A major feature of all the rapper dances is the rapid-fire simple clog steps (mainly the single and double shuffles), which with 5 dancers well practised and syncopated can achieve a mesmerising counterpoint to the figures and shapes which evolve as the dance progresses. Anyway thats by the way. We, came, we saw, we all felt shattered after every dance.

Despite all the difficulties, eveyone loved it as we all usually do, every year.

Thanks especially to the St Michaels Festival Commitee, all the other teams, musicians and singers that took part, the food stalls and pubs, and everyone else who came along to enjoy the dancing. And last but by no means least, a big thank you for the wonderfully impeccable job done by St Albans Police in keeping the St Michaels Road area temporarily a pedestrian area only, enabling all the teams to dance in the road safely.

Thank you all, see you again next year, with luck!!!

No pics this year as no spare bodies there to take them
Newbiggin Rapper Dance 1-Neil Dunbar, 2-Tim Short 3-Alan Muhr 4-Joe 5-Alison
Betty: Ian Cropton Melodeon: Ian Chandler

Buffens 15th Century French Swordfighting dance Dancers: Neil Dunbar, Tim Short, Alan Muhr, Alison
Whistle: Ian Chandler

Final note: 3 of our regular dancers, David, Anna and Pete were away on their hols so we were very tight on numbers. But we had to laugh at the irony that they had all headed off for a bit of warm sunshine

St Michaels Community Evening Folk Festival

Stevenage Sword dancers performing the Newbiggin Rapper Dance ,



  1. Opher · July 2, 2015

    Hi Ian,
    My sister (Wendy Morris) is a Morris dancer down in deepest Farnborough.
    Small world.
    Cheers Opher

    Liked by 1 person

  2. eeyorn the space donkey · July 4, 2015

    They certainly get about, Opher. I joked on my Facebook account that Morris and Sword dancing are untreatable viruses 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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