The Liverpoolympics were organised by Southport sword dancers and involved quite a lot of teams from different locations, and different traditions. The day started with an early start on the train. To get to Liverpool in time we had to set off by 8 o’clock…even then we were still a little bit late! On the train, there was a sleeping man, as you often get on the train at 8 in the morning on the way to Liverpool. All journey he was asleep until roughly 20 minutes from the end when he woke up and declared that he had a treasure map (no I’m not making this up), and he wouldn’t show us his map to let us know where he was going. He thought we were pirates and looked incredibly confused, suggesting we were on our way to Oktoberfest. It was at this point I realised that he was as pissed as a fart, but he was a good laugh, and to see the yank’s bemused face when we explained what Morris dancers were was priceless. He ended up showing Liam his dab (or something).
We wandered through Liverpool getting to where we had to start dancing. The streets were pretty empty at this point in the day, until we reached where everyone was starting. There were just huge masses of morris dancers dressed in a million different styles and outfits.
We moved onto the Museum of Liverpool, which I understand had, at the last minute, forbidden any border teams with black face paint on. Now, I can understand why some people have an issue with border teams dressing like this, and I’ve spoken to a lot of people who feel that morris dancers shouldn’t do it because they seem to think that it’s to do with blacking up, the slave trade, the black and white minstrel show and racism, which it isn’t. There are lots of stories about where it originally came from, most of them sharing the same kind of backstory, but that’s more for a different time, and Leeds aren’t a border side so it’s probably best not to discuss it here (if you are a border side and want to write down the story you’ve heard please feel free in comments, or e-mail me and I’ll combine them into a post later).
We realised half-way through Claro’s dance that we only had 3 men, and a musician. Nowhere near enough to carry on dancing, and another Leeds morris man who was carrying the other 2 had been out late the night before, so we were unsure as to whether he was going to be on time. Luckily he turned up at the last minute, but still that only left us with 5 dancers and the fool. It’s not good to have the fool dance with us in a side, despite him being a fantastic dancer. He’s fare more useful in other areas, like talking to the crowd, and leading them through the dances.
We danced a few here, before moving onto the Granada buildings (where they did the giant weather map where he jumped across to Ireland). Some of us still worse for wear from the night before, or from the drive, or a million other reasons…there also hadn’t been a decent pub all morning!
After a quick break for dinner we moved on again to the main street in Liverpool. By this time it was absolutely heaving with people. We danced with about 4 other teams including Briggate, and shared the area with a miserable looking clown giving out balloons.
A few of us even danced with Briggate in their Mass dance (plymouth reel). One thing I have learnt from doing this dance, is that I can’t bring my legs high enough for north-west…and generally just put the set to shame, but it was ok. I can always blame it on the booze.
A further spot down near the cotswold shop in Liverpool meant we could do one final dance, where we danced the jig with all members. It was apparently very good according to onlookers, which is always a good thing to hear.
A few people moseyed on home, but a few stayed out, where we went drinking talking to the locals.
Liverpool was a lovely city. People were really friendly, and mostly asked what you thought about the city, rather than telling you how awesome it was. A rare occasion in a lot of the places I’ve visited. It was a really friendly place, although slightly lacking in pubs (although we were probably just in the wrong part of the city).
Join us this Thursday at the Abbey Inn in Horsforth at 8pm, and then The Owl in Rodley at 9pm. Then after that it’s the Dales tour…