Seven Champions entertain the 2014 ARM reps
Seven Champions entertain the 2014 ARM reps

The Welsh border dancers often referred to themselves as “Molly dancers”, however this form of dance is now usually applied to the morris dances from the Eastern counties of England. See the Molly dance web site.

During the nineteenth century, agricultural workers from the East Anglian region of England engaged in a winter-time street performance known as Molly dancing. Disguised with blackened faces and women's clothing, they performed versions of local social dances in exchange for largess. They could be destructive, drunk and disreputable in appearance. Their dances were viewed as degenerate and subsequently ignored by early twentieth-century collectors. Due to changes in agricultural practices, popular agriculture, social reforms and wartime fatalities, Molly dancing became extinct by 1940. [Truculent Rustics - Molly dancing in East Anglia before 1940" by Elaine Bradtke, Folklore Society Books, 1999]

Contemporary Molly Dance Groups

The level of sophistication, both in dance and dress of contemporary molly dance groups, totally belies their early descriptions! A small mercy, since nowadays the old molly dancers antics would be likely to be the subject of an Anti Social Behaviour Order! A good place to spot molly dancers is at the Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival in January, traditionally this was the Tuesday following Plough Monday, but is now on the weekend following Plough Monday. The main day is the Saturday. However the situation is a little variable so check their website. 

Sides we know of (not generally members of the Morris Ring):