Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Hicks with Sticks: Dancing in Shepherdstown

 One of the best parts of traveling to tell stories is all the other stuff we get to see and do. This weekend included something I have been wanting to do for a long time: watch my brother Tom dance with his Border Morris dance group.

The Hicks with Sticks dance in the eastern panhandle region of West Virginia but they have traveled extensively over the years to participate in events from Canada to the British Isles. This past weekend they danced in the Shepherdstown Christmas parade, which took place on Saturday. Larry and I stayed overnight with Tom after my performance the evening before so we were in the right place at the right time, finally, to see his group (or "side" as they are called) in the parade.

Here's Tom, ready to dance. His costume has the traditional rags and bells.

The paint on his face is red and green for the parade but typically Border Morris dancers paint their faces black. There are various theories about how this tradition started but most believe it was to confer anonymity on the dancers in the early days.

We really enjoyed watching the dance which included rhythmic tapping and clashing of the sticks (hence, the Hicks with Sticks name!). The side put on a good show before the parade.

After the dance, we took a few minutes to stroll to the Lost Dog Coffee Shop for a hot coffee while we waited for the parade to start. There was lots to see on the streets, and in the coffeeshop too.

Then we were back on the corner, waiting, waiting, waiting...

Old cars,


even a donkey passed by,

and then finally I saw the Green Man coming, with the dancer behind him! What a sight!

The Morris dancers danced the entire parade route, which apparently is no big deal to them. Makes my feet tired just thinking about it.

If this looks like fun to you, why not give it a try? There are groups all over the US and I bet any of them would be happy to have new members. Click the link to see if there's a group near you.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Mac n' Janet said...

I think Morris Dancers are amazing, always enjoy seeing them.

annie said...

I agree, just amazing!

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