OPINION: Broadwood Morris captures the soul of Horsham

By Nik Butler

This weekend sees an event which I consider to be continually understated in the calendar of Horsham. The Broadwood Morris men will be dancing the Morris at various locations around Horsham town centre. Joining them will be 30 other sides, a side is the term given to a group of Morris dancers, who will add to the spectacle, noise and cheer. Whilst the event is advertised you would require a keen eye, or a more pedestrian approach to Horsham, to spot the notification of the return of the Morris.

The event is not exactly heavily sponsored nor are there a large collection of glossy printed programmes for purchase, no paraphernalia will bedeck the streets, and I doubt there are overnight stays in luxurious hotels. Yet individuals skilled in rhythm and the ability to avoid crushing skulls with sticks will return. For me this is an event that is quintessentially Sussex and certainly a Horsham event. The Broadwood day of dance not only marks a long standing cultural tradition but speaks to the history and the heart of Horsham town.

It maybe why the announcement of the event appears reserved, understated, almost unpolished and less glitzy. It is the soul of Sussex made manifest in the moments of bells jingling, handkerchief swishing, and sticks clashing. The association of Morris and beer needs no large steps and Horshams own affinity, its heritage in ale, is long established in the depths of Horshams streams.

Through that association we boast master brewers, successful breweries and respectable Beer Festivals. Horsham through its own history in brewing is connected to its land , its water, its hops and its culture and from there its characters all of whom are reflected  in a day of celebration which as a community we should encourage, we should promote and we should embrace.

The Morris sides which will range through the town will fill a variety of locations which their presence will continue to demonstrate that Horsham Town Centre provides a backdrop for the arts and culture which is accessible to everyone in the district irrespective of their backgrounds or investments.

For myself the return of the Broadwood Morris marks a return of Spring and an acknowledgement of this market towns roots. With the concern over what we are losing, or that which we do not have in Horsham, it is important that we can celebrate that which we are.

2 comments on “OPINION: Broadwood Morris captures the soul of Horsham

  1. Hmmm.

    The Broadwood have captured the soul of Horsham? Only if that soul is white, male and middle-aged with a fondness for facial hair and real ale… which it was in the 1970’s but it’s all moved on a bit since then.

    How about a celebration of something other than a mono-culture?

  2. It seems even more understated than in previous years and isn’t even advertised this year on the council’s website. I think it’s a great spectacle though after a few hours the incessant drumming does get a bit wearing. Not sure when Greg last went but there are usually plenty of women Morris dancers both in their own sides and in mixed sides.

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