LETTER: Memories of Gisburn Dance

With reference to the photo published last week of dancers at Gisburn, I can throw some light.

When I joined Leyland Morris Men in 1974 the Gisburn Dance was one of their repertoire. Amazing as Gisburn was at that time still in Yorkshire! And I included it in 1977 when I revived the Clitheroe Morris Men.

Please do send a copy to Cecil Sharpe House in London, the home of the English Folk, Dance and Song Society, where the notation was stored long before the 1970s. This inclusion was upsetting to the powers that were, who did everything possible to discriminate against women in Morris Dancing and, of course, Gisburn was unique in that it was MIXED dancing!

Indeed it is the most accomplished image I have seen of the Gisburn Dancers – the Pierrot figure at the back with the blackened face is most intriguing. Perhaps the “Fool” as Clitheroe had for a time with a character found in the Library, known as Jem Tosspot.

The Gisburn dance was a wonderful street Processional and as well as Clog Hurling, the Three Clogged Race it was included in the 1980s at Downham (because the pub was open on the Sunday afternoon) for the Clitheroe Morrris Men’s Weekend of Dance – this being a massed dance in the village with, at one stage, 80 couples taking part, with the majority of women being from the public having been coerced by the (very) merry Morris Men to participate.

Perhaps the Dance can be revived if ever street closures can be negotiated.

BRUCE DOWLES,

Whalley Road,

Clitheroe