DANCING IN WATFORD FOR OVER FOUR DECADES
Woodside Morris Men have been dancing since 1957, their roots stretching back to the members of the Phoenix folk club, based in Woodside Park, Finchley. The Side are now based in Watford, where we have been since the mid 1960s, dancing predominantly at pubs in the Watford, Hemel Hempstead and Rickmansworth area, but going further afield for special occasions, special bookings, folk festivals such as Whitby, Chippenham and Wimborne, and other events across the country. Even the occasional foreign tour.
In the last few years, we have gained something of a reputation as an entertaining Cotswold side, dancing at various festivals, events and pub nights around the country. The key to the team's 'engaging' style seems to come from the spirit of the side, and a certain amount of energy and enjoyment which audiences seem to pick up on. We have our off nights as well though!
Woodside are an all male side, though we mix with all kinds of teams when it comes to dancing and socialising. We have also been involved in teaching dances to groups ranging from Festival goers to the Brownies! Full members would be expected to take part in either the side's dancing or playing, or both if you are multi-tasking. We also have a number of honorary members who have retired for one reason or another following years of exemplary service to the team.
We also have a number of members with young families, and as such, we like to hold events in which everyone can get involved. The pub nights are always an opportunity for families to come along, and our weekend and festival dates are also an excellent opportunity for family activities. Dancing at a village fete or school fundraiser will only usually take up around half an hour or so, and the rest of the time is our own to take a look around and get involved.
The big family event of the season is usually the weekend away, for which we pick a beautiful part of the English countryside and spend the weekend on a campsite, with family and friends. We do a bit of dancing, but the weekends are generally just an excuse to get together and have a pleasant weekend in a relaxed environment.
In the last decade, Woodside have become more involved in the UK's folk festival scene. The majority of festivals are held over a weekend, but some can be as long as a week. These festivals are an excellent opportunity to get to see some of the country's top folk talent, and when you dance at them as an invited team, the season ticket for all events will usually come gratis! Woodside have gained a good reputation at these festivals, receiving regular invites. The majority of events Woodside attend are generally within an hour's drive, but there are a few that take us a little, or a lot further, such as the Folk Festivals at Whitby, Wimborne and Oxford.
What do Morris Dancers do in the winter?
Throughout the winter, between September and May, Woodside practise on Wednesday nights at the Pump House Arts Centre, just off the lower high street in Watford. The team are always on the lookout for men of any age who would like to try their hand at the English martial art, so if you are interested, why not give it a try!
Please use this site to find out a little more about Woodside Morris Men, Morris Dancing in general, what Morris Dancers get up to all year round, or the English Folk Scene.