BB - Repertoire
x = danced out that year - (x) = practiced but not danced out
Origins of the (non-traditional) names
Many of the dances in our repertoire, particularly the traditional ones, are named after the tune. Other dances though, and particularly the more recent ones, have acquired their names for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons are now lost in the mists of time but the following is an attempt to help :
This dance is the only one in the repertoire to use an unusual form of the heel and toe step where the upper part of the leg is brought horizontal while hopping on the other foot, and in doing so uses a lot of energy to go not very far. It is named after a famous soldier of the 17th century, George Monck, Duke of Albemarle, who is alleged to have marched his troops into battle so slowly, the battle was always over by the time he got there. Of course this is almost certainly a libellous slur on his reputation, as he was a renowned fighter who in 1660 helped overthrow the Rump Parliament and pave the way for the return of Charles II to the throne. He also successfully led the English fleet in a number of battles against the Dutch, possibly after finding his wife was allergic to tulips. Were he alive today he would probably sue us for defamation, but frankly we wouldn't be taking much notice of a 400 year old anyway. Some other Morris sides perform a dance called Monck's March, named after the same person, which is similar to ours except for the stepping, the figures, the chorus and the tune.
Base over Apex
Currently the newest dance in the repertoire, this was the result of a psychedelic dream sequence which envisaged 6 dancers floating effortlessly over a dance floor in a triangular formation, twisting and turning like daffodils in the breeze, and with the smell of freshly mown grass in the air. And so the dance was born, though the daffodils are replaced with thick, mature specimens, the floating is replaced with intermittent jerky movements while everyone works out which way to go, and instead of freshly mown grass there's that usual funny smell no-one owns up to.
Although not in the current repertoire, this old favourite features progressive jumps in the chorus. And Binfield is nearby.
One of the many dances in the repertoire
Danced to a traditional tune (The Walk of the Tuppenny Postman), this dance features hollowed out coconut shells which are clashed together to produce a distinctive breaking sound. It is though actually a little known fact that when Morris Dancing was first invented in 1765 by James Watt, while sitting at home waiting for the kettle to boil, he envisaged the dancers using not sticks (too macho), not hankies (too poncey), not swords (wa-hey, man, maybe for Nurrtheners like, but not yurr Cotswolders like) definitely nothing floral, so what else but the coconut halves he had lying around after working on prototypes for a new kind of chocolate bar for sailors, the Bounty, though perhaps he should have used the inside of the coconut rather than the outside for flavouring, which is why there was later to be a famous mutiny on the Bounty. Our dance follows James Watt's original designs very closely, though we drew the line at the steam powered melodeon after it played havoc with the reeds.
Dance of Chance
Inspired by seeing the Tiller Girls on Sunday Night at the London Palladium, this dance incorporates some of the famous pivoting movements, slick choreography, dazzling costumes, cheesey grins, and general air of youth and health which the girls exuded. Note the qualification "some of". Well, there's a sort of pivot-y thing in the dance, and we do occasionally smile. The name of the dance refers to some of the chance elements which make it up. We also considered calling it the "which way are we going now dance", but decided this was too accurate a title for our taste.
Dance of the Little Fairies
This dance is notable for using 2 sticks, a distinctive stick clashing chorus, and an unusual heel and toe stepping sequence in 5/4 time, performed to a haunting and atmospheric contemporary tune composed by Herbie Flowers. The dance evolved before we had a tune for it, and we were therefore looking for some suitable 5/4 music, but as soon as Jane played us this tune, we knew it was just right. When we found it really was called 'The Dance of the Little Fairies', our joy knew no bounds, and we skipped gaily round the room on our tippytoes, doing good wherever we went, and condemning evil people to a lifetime of attending Morris Fed AGM meetings.
Dance of the Big Goblins
This dance is notable for using 2 sticks and not being the Dance of the Little Fairies. The tune is a waltz nicked from an RBB band CD, the stepping basically is nicked from our own Mazurka dance, and the sticking chorus is nicked from a workshop Jameson went to. So all our own work then. Why is it called Big Goblins? - because it is the very antithesis of Little Fairies. We can safely say this because none of our regular Morris audience will know what an antithesis is.
A fairly straight stick clashing dance, this is named after a famous road which runs nearby. Unlike Berkshire Bedlam who never run anywhere if they can help it.
A finishing dance, which nowadays has 2 versions, 'Going Away With Song', and 'Going Away Without Song', though we rarely do the second version as the first is so popular. This version features a short verse of song at the end of the dance before processing off into the nearest impractical confined space we can find. The song is usually performed slightly off key, and always when out of breath, resulting in a frequently unintelligible and inaudible dirgey sort of ending to our performances, but despite that the whole side love doing it, especially Lee.
Jolly Jockey Sticks / Cocky Jockey Sticks
Jolly Jockey is a stick throwing dance, performed to the tune of 'Jockey to the Fair', out of which came the name Jolly Jockey Sticks. The essence of this dance is that it features stick throwing rather than stick catching, as the chorus, which features a lot of stick exchanging, is actually very difficult to do successfully. There is a golden rule for the dancers known as the 'don't bend down if you drop your stick' rule, which we keep meaning to learn but haven't got round to.
For the 2012 season it was decided in a pub discussion that as not enough sticks were being dropped, a more complicated chorus was to be added halfway through - the 'cocky' chorus. This has proved that decisions should never be taken down the pub.
A not particularly serious dance developed to do jointly with the Outside Capering Crew, it has developed an alarming life of its own and insists on being done at most inopportune moments, like when there are people watching. However this is actually a dance best viewed from a long way away, like in the next county, and ideally it would be best kept locked away in a darkened room. If you do happen to see it, don't stand behind the line of dancers, it's not the most flattering view.
A stick dance with a lively and fast turning chorus danced to the tune of 'Dives and Lazarus' which was the original name for the dance. Before the first stick clash there is a pronounced 'ha!', but during one of the first performances of the dance, another watching side extended the 'ha's', Laughing Policeman style, throughout the chorus. We subsequently debated changing the name to the Laughing Policeman but settled on the Laughing Cavalier. So now, although Berkshire Bedlam may not look much like oil paintings, they have a dance named after one. Boom-boom-tish.
Lord Barry's Breakfast
This hanky dance, which features interesting diagonal lines, was allegedly originally choreographed over breakfast at a Little Chef on the A30 on the way to a BB event, possibly the Dorset tour, using some of the implements that you find on the tables in Little Chefs e.g. salt cellars, pepper pots, ketchup bottles, cockroaches etc. The dance was named in honour of the then squire, Stuart Barry, as the dancers coming and going to the corner positions was held to resemble the breakfast courses arriving at Lord Barry's table. The current side still think affectionately of Stuart whenever they see salt, pepper, ketchup, or cockroaches.
Lucky Pierre / Lucky Serge
The original title of this interesting hanky dance, featuring a nicked and adapted Kirtlington hey, had absolutely nothing to do with the dance, but a lot to do with an in joke that was circulating at the time the dance evolved. 'Lucky Pierre' is apparently the term given to the man in the middle. If you are curious to know more, ask one of the wise old heads of Berkshire Bedlam, though bear in mind that for most of BB the description 'wise old' is only half true. In more recent times the dance has been given some extra oomph by one side of the set surging forward as one (or two, or three) - hence the revised name of Lucky Serge, which simply must be pronounced in a poor Belgian accent.
A dance with no sticks or hankies done to a Mazurka tune, hence the name. It features an exaggerated heel and toe step, lots of hand clapping and thigh slapping, and confusing heys which involve everyone running off just that bit too far to get back in time with the music. Its most famous exponent is Trundle R. (1940 - ) who, while performing it on the Arena stage at Sidmouth, found himself in a position where he kept running to the front of the stage during the hey, and improvised by blowing kisses to the audience. The Morris police are still after him for that and several hundred other offences such as jumping too high and having too much enthusiasm.
Plain Brown Wrapper
A rarely performed 'Over the People' type dance done to the tune of Yankee Doodle. It was so named because ... actually I don't know, does anyone else?
Erwin Schrödinger was a famous Austrian physicist, best known for his mathematical studies of the wave mechanics of orbiting electrons. But you knew that didn't you? He also had a cat that allegedly disappeared and reappeared. This hanky dance features orbiting Bedlams, who wear hats. This somewhat tenuous connection gave rise to the dance title. Most of us are still trying to work it out, but I suppose, like most of Schrödingers work, you're not actually meant to understand it ...
Shooting is a traditional stick dance, usually involving at some stage pointing with the stick and pretending its a gun. Our version also involves pointing with the stick and pretending its a gun, but critically we also go 'bang', thereby, we feel, differentiating us from those sides who don't go 'bang'. An important difference. Actually we have some other differences as our version features heel and toe stepping, is danced to a composed tune, and features stick throwing across the set and to/from opposite corners. We regard it as one of our best show dances and always introduce it as 'our most dangerous dance', an epithet it richly deserves as sticks do sometimes go astray and have been known to strike small children and animals. Yes I know its really their fault for watching, but occasionally we do feel pangs of guilt - especially if the child was smiling beatifically or if the animal was staring balefully and trustingly at us just a second or two before. Still, it had enjoyed a good life.
Spotty Dog was a famous cultural icon of the 1960's (actually a children's character) with a distinctive lurching kind of walk. This stick dance also features distinctive lurching kinds of stepping, though come to think of it so do most of the dances though they are not supposed to.
Sucking the Monkey
A good column hanky dance, one of our showiest non-show dances. It is named after a genuine old (Wokingham) custom - in sailor's slang 'to suck the monkey' is to surreptitiously suck liquor from a cask through a straw, and when milk has been taken from a coconut, and rum has been substituted, 'sucking the monkey' is drinking this rum. There is an old time rhyme about it, which sounds bad enough to have been written by one of the current side, which goes :
"Besides, what the vulgar call 'sucking the monkey'
Has much less effect on a man when he's funky."
If you think you understand this please let us know. Also, apparently among some Dutch people, one form of drinking is known as 'sucking the monkey', because the early morning appetizer of rum and salt was taken in a Monkey Spoon, a spoon having on the handle a heart surmounted by a monkey, at one time given in the Netherlands at marriages to some immediate relative of the bride, and at christenings and funerals to the officiating clergyman.
Well now, didn't you want to know that?
Two by Two / Three by Three
Two by two is our customary Coming-on Dance, normally featuring one single dancer starting, followed by 6 more coming on in pairs 2 at a time, hence the dance name. These days the first on tends to be Paul, who dances in a style known and loved throughout BB as 'Paul's style'. Others have tried to copy but its very hard to get the legs turned out at exactly that angle. In 2010 a truly exciting innovation was added - essentially the same dance but featuring the dancers coming on in 3 lines, 3 at a time. Now there's progress .....
Wheel of Fortune
Another coming on dance, done to the tune of The British Grenadier, and forming circular patterns when all dancers have come in. Its called Wheel of Fortune partly because its circular, but mainly because its a bit of a lottery whether we get it right.
Less well known than the Bermudan one but this triangular dance does feature Bedlams going mysteriously astray in the middle of it. In fact our audiences always ask lots of questions about this dance - questions like 'where did it come from?', 'how does it work?', 'why does it look like they're in pain?', 'can I go home now Mummy?' ...
Wizo the Flem
Most dances start with a dance pattern or a tune - this one started with a stonking name, spotted by Angela on a plaque on a ruined castle in Pembrokeshire. There really was a Wizo, who was a Flemish settler, in the 12th century - in fact he became Lord Wizo - and we felt that a name like that once discovered could not go uncelebrated. Andy, after much research of obscure Flemish tunes, mostly unlistenable and certainly all unpronounceable without a great deal of phlegm, came up with the whizzo tune that we use for the dance, and also the original idea for the stick throwing chorus. Which the final syncopated version is absolutely nothing like.
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