Local councils have complained that they are struggling to halt the increasing popularity of late night clubs offering Table Morris Dancing. Once respectable areas are suddenly finding themselves swamped by stag nights or crowds of businessman away from home on a work trip, all prepared to pay good money to watch Morris Dancers perform on a table in front of them for their pleasure.
‘These clubs offer the whole experience’ said one concerned Manchester councillor. ‘The Morris dancers get up on the tables and then wave their hankies about, jiggle their little bells and if someone is prepared to stuff a wad of notes in their gaiter, they might even bang their sticks together. It’s disgusting.’
The Morris Dancers themselves defend themselves against accusations that their occupation is unhealthy and sordid. ‘I’m proud of my interest in English folk traditions and if other men want to pay me good money to prance about on the table in front of them, I can’t see how that means I am being exploited,’ said one dancer from ‘Secrets’ in Euston, North London.
But local residents have been horrified to discover that this sort of thing is going on in the heart of their community and are frustrated that local authorities seem powerless to ban it. ‘Although there are bouncers and dark glass and everything, my children know that on the other side of that door there are middle aged men dressing up in green waistcoats and funny hats who are jigging about for the entertainment of some seedy businessmen,’ said one local mother.
The licensing agreement stipulates that club members are not permitted to touch the Morris Dancers, but an investigation by Manchester Council revealed that some men will pay extra to have a quick wave of the handkerchief themselves or may offer cash to dancers to adjust the traditional formation to get more attention to their table. The investigation fell apart however, when the councillor leading the fact-finding study was photographed in a private booth, having a one to one with a Morris lap dancer who was letting him bang sticks with him while dangling his hat ribbons over his face.