Formed in 1990, Rainbow Morris are a Saltaire-based mixed team who dance in the North West tradition. Our group includes a dedicated band of musicians playing traditional dance tunes on a variety of instruments, including accordion, guitar, melodion, concertina and drum.
Nobody really knows the origins of morris dancing. By the end of the 16th Century, it was an established form of entertainment, notably to celebrate Spring and Harvest.
Rainbow Morris dance the traditional North West Morris, which includes dances from industrial towns and villages to the East as well as the West of the Pennines. Many dances carry the names of the towns from which they originated, such as “Shawforth” and “Blackburn”.
Many of our dances, which involve the use of decorated sticks and garlands, along with handkerchiefs, are very old. However there are others which are more recent, some devised by side members. Many of the traditional dances continue to change and develop. North West Morris might have died out completely at the beginning of the 20th Century, had women not taken over and kept the dances alive.
One peculiarity of North West Morris is the wearing of clogs. This is thought to have come about because of its popularity with the mill and factory workers of the district whose footwear was the hardwearing clog. The wearing of clogs with bells attached gives the dances a distinctive rhythm and, we believe, more entertainment value.
We meet on Monday evenings in Shipley from 7pm to 8.30pm to practise new and old dances. Throughout the year we “dance out” at pubs, local/charity events, festivals and Days of Dance organised by ourselves and other morris dance sides.
In 2008 we attended the Prague Folklore Festival.
We finance the team through subscription, fundraising events and occasional dance fees.