Phoenix at the Tower

The ravens weren’t the only birds at the Tower of London yesterday as Phoenix joined Pump House Clog to celebrate their 40th birthday.

They organized a fun day with perfect weather! Wicket Brood, Whitethorne and Hemlock Morris also joined the fun and together we creatled a lovely contrast of different types of Morris and costumes with a scenic background!

We particularly enjoyed a mass monkey with our fellow guest sides.

So many photo opportunities, our photos must end up all over the world as the tourists lap it up.

We finished the day with well earned cuppa and cake then homeward bound. As usual we did our normal dancing and playing on the tube – It had to be done!

Happy 40th Pump House!

Another stunning swanage

After a summer off, Phoenix gathered once again for a weekend at Swanage folk festival.

Weather for Swanage can be a bit unpredictable but this year was ideal morris conditions – no rain and not too hot!

Phoenix put on a lively show as always at a variety of spots around town including a great performance of our dance Batchworth Stick at the Rowing Club.

On Saturday our day of dancing ended with the procession where the dancers were joined by their youngest member who at 7 months old was probably the youngest participant in this years procession and the only one to sleep through the whole thing!

On Sunday, phoenix ended the day by joining the ‘mass monkey’ then kicking off their shoes for the traditional dance in the sea which ended in chaos as our Foreman took a tumble, closely followed by the dancer who tried to help her up!

Overall a lovely weekend. Thanks to Basingclog, Marling morris, Exmoor morris and Rattan Hill who shared our spots and to the organisers for another great festival.

Meet the side…

Name: Mike

Role: Squire

How I joined: My wife, Sue, and I lived on a narrow boat for the first 14 years of our married life and quite early on, 1977 or 8, we were at a boat rally on the Slough Arm of the Grand Union Canal. This is where I saw Grand Union Morris.

I thought “I would like to try that”.

I went along to their practice hall in Uxbridge and soon got the hang of the different dances, got my kit and started dancing out.
My wife said “you will never catch me doing that” but it was not long before she joined Lord Pagets Morris who also practiced in Uxbridge.
A few years passed and, for a number of reasons, I left Grand Union and joined Phoenix Morris. Our Bagman (Secretary) had to give up so I took on that role. A few years later our Squire (Chairman) had to give up for health reasons and recomended to the Side that I take his place,
With a short break of about six months I have been Squire of Phoenix ever since.
First dance out: My first dance out with both Grand Union and Phoenix was so long ago I am unable to remember either of them!
I do remember our first dance out which resulted in Phoenix going mixxed. We had set up a seperate girls Side and on May morning in 1987 we danced out at 4am on Chorleywood Common. Only five girls made it and Denise, the Squire, came to speak to Pat, our Squire, and said “can we dance with you?”. We decided that, as there was no one watching, it would be OK. We have danced as a mixed Side ever since.
Favourite Morris memory: My favourite Morris memory could be one of many but I think our trip to France to dance at a village fete being organised by Brits living in the village.It was a great weekend.

Rochester Sweeps Festival 2016

Favourite dance: Again difficult. I think Muskets in the style of Bleddington taught to us by the Minisota Morris Men on a tour of England in exchange for us teaching them one of ours.

Meet the side…

Merrydowners Day of Dance, London 2015

Name: Sue

Role: Foreman

Joined: 1985

How I Joined: I started Morris Dancing in 1978 – When I joined Phoenix Morris it was 1985.

Originally my husband Michael Stimpson was responsible for me joining The Morris. When he started Morris I said “ If you think I am going to do that, think again !” In 1978 I was set up one evening to attend a practice of Lord Pagets Morris a female Border Side, I never looked back.

I started as a musician with Phoenix Morris in 1985 when they were a male only Side. Then in 1987 Phoenix went mixed – partly my influence- much to the annoyance of many single sex Sides at the time. So I became a dancer. We persevered and grew from strength to strength to where we are today – a popular well established Morris Side.

The Cricketers, Sarrat 1985

First Dance Out:First ever dance out with Lord Pagets Morris up at Dawn on May Morning 1979 on Uxbridge Common.

First dance out with Phoenix Morris as a mixed Side May morning 1987 Cassiobury Park with Pump House Clog followed by breakfast back at the Pump House in Watford .

Favourite Morris Memory: There are so many over the years. One that comes to mind is dancing a very lively Upton upon severn Stick Dance on the glass tiled stage at the Britain’s got Talent Studio. We had huge cheers from the acts waiting to audition, I was buzzing with pride.

Britain’s Got Talent 2018

Another memory that comes to mind a few years ago was spending a weekend dancing in Viry France organised by Merrydowners Morris. We all had a wonderful weekend.

Favourite Dance: I might be biased but I love Phoenix Waves one of our own dances, followed closely by Upton upon Severn Stick.

Meet the side…

Swanage Folk Festival, 2018

Name: Karen

Role: Deputy Foreman

Joined: 1989…..30 years ago this autumn!!

How I Joined: I joined at the suggestion of the then foreman, who I was working with. She was quite persuasive and my husband at the time danced with another side and I could see the fun that could be had, so wanted to try it for myself.

First dance out: Mmmm now there’s a question!
I think it was at an ale in Maidenhead but it was 30 years ago nearly, can’t quite remember!!

Favourite Morris Memory: At the end of a lot of dancing at Swanage Festival Phoenix celebrates by dancing in the sea. A couple of years ago one member tripped and fell in, losing her hat and getting thoroughly soaked. Caused great laughter with us and members of the public watching.

Swanage Folk Festival, 2014

Favourite Dance: Upton on Severn Stick Dance.

Meet the side…

Three Horseshoes, Winkwell 2019

Name: Jo and Ian

Role: dancers

Joined: 2018

How we joined: We joined after several years of Jo procrastinating about it… Ian thought he would support Jo, probably thinking it wouldn’t last 😁

Living in Rickmansworth means we’ve seen Phoenix dancing at many local events. We have also known Sue (foreman) and Mike’s (Squire) daughter for many years so were aware of Phoenix through her. Ricky folk festival last year was when we first started talking about joining and we finally joined after the open evening on Wed 24th October 2018.

Thank you to everyone for making us feel welcome and having patience with us ‘old’ learners

Pirton, 2019

First dance out: Pirton may day in 2019

Favourite morris memory: dancing with chopsticks at the Coach and Horses Christmas meal.

Favourite dance: Ian – The Stomp. Jo – South Australia.

As we learn more this may well change.

Meet the side…

Lyon, France 2010

Name: Toni (Hobbit)

Role: Dancer

Joined:1999

Why do they call you Hobbit?: I was given the name Hobbit by Mike our Squire, once when we were dancing with another side that also had a very small women dancer like me. Mike dragged me over to measure us both to see who was the smallest and it was me. Mike then called out loudly our Hobbit is smaller than your Hobbit and the name seemed to stick to me after that. So that’s what most people in Phoenix call me. I think some of them don’t even know my real name.

How I joined: Whilst I was working for Hillingdon Libraries back in Summer 1999 a colleague told me that she was a Morris Dancer and that she was dancing at Batchworth Lock on the Saturday, and asked me if I would like to come and watch her dance. I came to watch as it sounded like fun and from that moment I was hooked. I have always danced since a child, tap and ballet and modern jazz etc. but this was something new to me. I came along to a couple of practices on the Wednesday at the scout hut in Rickmansworth, but I had a problem as I was due to start teaching Genealogy at Adult Education in Richmond in September which was also on a Wednesday evening and I couldn’t be in two places at once. So, I came along to practices during the term breaks when I wasn’t teaching, but couldn’t come in term time. In Jan 2000 I didn’t get enough students enrol, as they had raised the number required to 15 per class and I only had 12 so my class was dropped. Which meant that I could now spend my Wednesday evenings practicing Morris Dancing.

First Dance Out: My first dance out was in February 2000 at Cheltenham Festival and I couldn’t drive up there until the Friday evening until I had finished work at the Library. The weather was pretty foul; it was dark and I found myself driving up to Cheltenham in thick fog, which was pretty scary. But on the Saturday when we were actually dancing the weather wasn’t too bad and I also took part in a workshop showing people the basics of Morris Dancing. I didn’t have a full kit just a plain waistcoat without a back badge and a few small badges that people had given me, a striped shirt, breeches and socks and a hat with a few flowers.

Wild Hunt Day of Dance, London 2018

Favourite Morris Memory: well, I’ve got two really special ones. First one was in Broadstairs on the promenade when I was presented with my bells. I was so excited I didn’t want to take them off when we finished and the Squire always says “Bells off Phoenix” I just kept jumping up and down to make lots of noise. Broadstairs is one of my Favourite Folk Festivals as there is so much going on, lots of workshops, concerts and Ceilidhs etc.

My other really good Morris Memory was when Phoenix were invited to dance at Lyon in France, we were made to feel very welcome by the local people and they gave us a big tea party with lots of cakes.

Favourite Dance: This is quite hard to choose as there are lots of good dances that I enjoy. I’ll say ‘Postman’s Knock’ but I also really like ‘Worcestershire Monkey’