There are three major Morris associations, and in their time, like most organisations operating in a similar field, they have often clashed over differences which have previously seemed insurmountable. Thankfully, there is a much better understanding now between the three associations, and a greater amount of co-organised events and initiatives are taking place to the overall benefit of Morris Dancing.
The Morris Federation
, known until 1982 as the Women's Morris Federation, was formed in 1975 in order to support the growing number of women's sides that were being formed amid the 1970s revival. The atmosphere under which the Federation came into being was often quite unpleasant, with a number of the more traditional male side's resenting women's involvement in Morris, and many of the new women's sides resenting what had been, up to then, the near male exclusivity, and the growing common belief that women were not supposed to dance. However, times and polotics change, and following a general change in attitude, almost certainly due to the impact of the formation of the Federation, things started to change, and by 1980, the Federation had opened its doors to mixed sides, and within the year had opened up membership to all comers.
As a result of the rivalry, and single sex status of the two older Morris associations, a group of East Anglian dancers decided to form their own association to support all teams, regardless of gender, who wished to join. Ironically, within a few years of Open Morris forming, the Federation also opened its doors to mixed and men's sides. From its East Anglia roots, Open Morris
has grown and grown, and now has a membership of around a hundred sides.
There is now a real will to act together to ensure the future of Morris Dancing, both in its 'ancient' form and in its growing, living traditions. The three associations now meet regularly to co-ordinate efforts to raise the profile of Morris Dancing across the country and keep the dance alive and vital.