Madcap Morris

As a dancer, percussionist and caller Mike Salter does a variety of activities in the folk music and dance scene, including leading Madcap Morris in all its various forms.

Madcap Morris outings 2017:

Madcap Cotswold at Broadstairs Folk Week in Kent   12th-18th August

32nd Madcap Border Weekend at Malvern:  8th-10th Dec 2016    £36 pp

Madcap Molly used to appear at a beer festival in November,  future undecided.


This year’s Madcap weekend is the 8th-10th Dec and costs £36 per person.
Both past participants and newcomers are welcome to attend.  Cheques made out to Madcap Morris to arrive between early July and early Sept, after which it should be fully booked. Folly Cottage, 151 West Malvern Road, Malvern, Worcs WR14 4AY

wedding-procession    thumb_pershore-at-the-car-park_1024

Val and Mike got married on the afternoon before the 31st Madcap Morris Weekend, i.e. the 9th Dec 2016.  We danced in Priory Park in Malvern before processing (see picture) to the Elgar Room for the ceremony. Afterwards there was a Reception and Morris Ale in West Malvern Village Hall (the usual Madcap venue) and then a pig-roast in the Folly Cottage courtyard before the usual Madcap Events started on Friday Evening. Over ninety people were booked onto the morris weekend and several others had to be turned away. Light rain failed to stop us dancing at the Brewers Arms on Saturday and we were blessed with good weather for Sunday’s walking tour round the hills (see picture)  with lunch at the Wyche Inn as usual.

The Madcap Border Morris weekends have been going since 1986. Inspired by the once-a-year tour of The Welsh Border Morris in Worcestershire, and originally an offshoot of the Wolverhampton Cotswold team Merrydale Morris (which Mike founded in 1984), the Border Morris weekend brings together between seventy and eighty dancers and musicians from all over the country. The event is always held on the weekend closest to Mike’s birthday on the 8th of December. The first four of the weekends were based in Wolverhampton with a Sunday coach tour out to Bridgnorth and Ironbridge. Since 1990 the event has been staged at Malvern. Traditional Border Morris dances such as Brimfield, Much Wenlock, Peopleton, Pershore, Upton-on-Severn and White Ladies Aston, plus newer dances such as Cuckoo’s Nest, Penn Cross and Tinner’s Rabbit taught on Saturday morning form the core repertoire of the weekend, being performed at a local pub on Saturday lunch-time and on a five mile walking tour round the Malvern Hills on the Sunday. The dancing on Saturday also includes Molly dances taught on Friday evening and dances from Lichfield and the Cotswolds. Singing is considered an important part of the weekend and constitutes a large part of the late night into the early morning activities beside a log fire. A popular feature of the Sunday tour is Mike’s “don’t even sniff it if you are driving” hot punch which goes a long way to explain why quite a lot of people don’t leave until Monday morning. In fact the last few years there has even been some Monday morning dancing in costume. The weekend is open to any dancers, singers and musicians that wish to attend. Bookings are taken during July to September. By October the event is usually fully booked and in most years some people have had to be turned away.

Ever since it started in 1986 Madcap Morris has been affiliated to the national organisation Open Morris which had been founded a few years earlier to cater for the needs of mixed morris teams, which at that time were heavily outnumbered by male only teams. Since the Millennium mixed teams in which men and women dance together have been the most numerous category of teams. Mike was co-editor of the Open Morris magazine Dancing On in the 1980s and also served for a while in the 1990s as general secretary.


The leapfrog climax of Lass of Richmond Hill as performed by Madcap Cotswold at Brodstairs Folk Week

Madcap has never ben a regular team in the sense of one that meets for weekly practices but Mike gathers people to practice and perform under the Madcap name whenever he has a whim to do so. A Madcap Border team performed at the Potteries Folk Festival and at the Hastings Jack in the Green in the early 1990s, and in recent years Madcap Border has danced locally on New Year’s Day, whllst Madcap Mummers often perform a play at a local New Year’s ceilidh. A Madcap Cotswold team performed at the Wheaton Aston Folk Festival in June 2006 and 2007 and since 2009 Madcap Cotswold have performed all week at Broadstairs Folk Week in August. As a reaction against the preponderance of dances with complex sticking routines now performed by most mixed Cotswold teams, Madcap Cotswold does mostly handkerchief dances, particularly those with galleys, forrie-capers  slow capers and leap-frogs. At the festival Mike works the team very hard, with an hour and a half’s practice each morning before kitting up and then performing up to sixteen dances down on the sea-front. A mumming play is performed on one of the mid-week days to give the team a bit of a rest from dancing. Madcap Cotswold has also performed twice at a morris weekend at Moira in Leicestershire and wears white shirts, white trousers, white shoes, epaulettes and a set of red, yellow and blue cummerbunds.

Worn the other way up, and with black trousers instead of whites, the cummerbunds are also used by Madcap Molly which has performed annually with other local teams at a beer festival at a pub at Hanley Castle since 2010 and in some yeas has also danced at nearby Upton-on-Severn. The team mainly performs Molly dances created by Mike over the years.

Last Updated Feb 2017