It has been noted by many that the style and general behaviour of Morris dancers is practically indistinguishable from the portrayal of the Spartan warriors during the battle of Thermopylae in the film “300” by Warner Bros. Traditional actions displayed by Spartan warriors such as spurning those babies of weak or disabled body are often displayed in the Morris dancing community. Pensioners (those who are over 65 and live on a pension), whose arms and legs will not fit precisely into the routines, fit the shapes needed or even carry the bells with flair, are likely to be cast out of the Morris dancing population. Once out, it is very hard to get yourself reconsidered for a post again, especially as competition is high and as a one time reject, you will also have to overcome the total and utter shame that is being spurned from such an indiscriminate clan.
Other parallels have also been spotted, one Jake Corner suggested that the ancient war cry carried out by the Spartan leaders “SPAARRRTAANS!” resembles the cry carried out at the start of a dance…”DAANNCEEERRSS!” This is a new theory and has been accepted by many prestigious world organisations such as “The snow white guild of ankle ringers” and therefore must not be considered an insult. Indeed, Mr. Corner is a great fan of Morris dancing having tried his hand at it many times. Unfortunately he does not posses the septuagenarian rigour, deafness or pagan urges (always considered the main traits of this dance style) to be wholly successful.
However, one main similarity between the Spartans and Morris dancers is the gratuitous violence often displayed by each party. Morris dancing competitors do in fact believe with utter certainty that the village green is more a “battle field” than a display ground. Their vigour on this subject, added to the hostility with which they survey their opposition and the brutality in the way they clash sticks and ring bells whilst regarding their “enemies” with aggressive stares is uncanny to the Spartan army. Many may argue that the two cannot be compared; Alice Edmondson one non-believer stated that “the Spartans used destructive tactics to conquer their enemies; Morris dancers use no such tactics.” This opinion is of course wrong and Ms. Edmondson is obviously trying to look at the world through “rose tinted glasses.” No, no, the world of the Morris dancer is both bloodthirsty and hazardous with many obstacles to be overcome as many cruel tactics are in fact used. Indeed, at the great dance off of 1978 held at the “great green” in Ipswich, where the Cotswold team was pitched against a vastly superior Black Bird Lees team, the Cotswold leader was reported to have suggested that his team use the “triple bell twirl manoeuvre” –something previously never attempted by an Western European team. The move worked, the team won and were hoisted around the green by crowds of adoring fans (11 were sighted) and later taken to the local inn for mead and frolicking. The team was considered local heroes and even made the village paper. They were then beaten 3 weeks later by the “Faithful city Morris men” of Herefordshire and have not yet recovered from this defeat. But as they say, that is that and you never know what to expect from the dog eat dog, cut throat world of Morris dancing…
The serious point here is the one which Oliver Kamm makes about the reliability of Wikipedia as a source of factual information.
And on the subject of unreliable information, isn’t this the most perfect Daily Mail story ever?
(Via Tim Blair)