About 35 Morris dance teams will be descending on Bath on Saturday, 7th October and will be in action at 13 locations around the city centre.
The event is to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the exclusion of Morris dancing from the Licensing Act of 2003, the effect of which was to avoid burdensome restrictions on the joy and spontaneity of this form of English traditional dance.
It is part of a series of events up and down the country organised by the Joint Morris Organisation, which combines the three national bodies: The Morris Ring, the Morris Federation, and Open Morris.
The origins of Morris dancing are obscure, but it dates back at least to 1448, when the Goldsmiths Company of London are recorded as paying 7 shillings to a team of Morris dancers. In later centuries it became more of a rural tradition.
After almost dying out in the late nineteenth century it was revived with the help of folklorists like Cecil Sharpe, and especially in the second half of the twentieth century there was an explosion of activity with the formation of numerous new teams.
There are several different styles within the Morris. Those represented in Bath will include Cotswold Morris, performed by 6 or 8 dancers usually with sticks or handkerchiefs; Border Morris, from the English-Welsh border area, with a simpler, looser and more vigorous style; and North West Morris, often processional and more military in style.
Women as well as men have always been involved in Morris dancing. 20th century teams were mostly single sex, but today many teams are mixed, with men and women dancing together.
The tradition of blackening the face for disguise is no longer used by Morris teams, although other colours of face paint may be seen.
The Bath Day of Dance is organised by representatives from four local teams: Bristol Morris, Somerset Morris, Holt Morris and Mendip Morris.