A man walks into a pub…..or so the saying goes, only this time he’s holding a pewter tankard, is bearded and requests a Harvey’s Ale. I tell the barmaid that the tankard is tapered to fit more than a pints worth. The tankard, creating an ice breaker, is filled (with more than a pints worth) and a conversation is struck.
“Are you here to see the Morris Dancing?” He asks me.
“No, though that sounds interesting. What’s that all about?”
The man walks off returning with a brochure.
Now, living in the UK for some eight years we’d have to of been living under a rock to not know what Morris dancing was! And we have in fact witnessed it in all it’s tattered glory in Trafalgar Square and a few other bars around town.
Only this was Morris dancing with a twist. Bedlam Morris is a beefed up version of the handkerchief waving variety of Morris dancing, and on this occasion it was bought to us courteous of The Wild Hunt.
So as daylight turned to dusk the group donned their tattered black garb, grabbed their wooden clubs and instruments and commenced with the best Morris dancing performance you’re every likely to see. We can only describe the masks as what happens when you cross Slipknot with Morris dancing. The shamanistic whooping and screaming and smashing of clubs had the small crowd of Greyhound locals enthralled, and when they brought out their makeshift shields for the performance finale, everybody was well and truly involved.
An extract from their website (http://www.wildhunt.org.uk/index.php) gives some background information to the name and dances they perform.
The team was formed in September 1991, meeting appropriately in the shadow of a hill known as Bedlams Bank at Merstham, Surrey. The name of the team – THE WILD HUNT – is taken from a legend that has ancient origins, as has the dancing. It is deeply rooted in myth and race memory across much of Northern and Central Europe. The spectral WILD HUNT roams the fields and woodlands in the dead of night, preceded by a pack of coal-black hounds and accompanied by the wild calls of hunting horns. At times the hunt takes to the air, riding on chill night winds.