The Taming of the Broom

Paul, one of Mersey’s newest members, takes on a personal challenge…

Having been part of the Mersey Morris Men for roughly four months now I have been met with a combination of excitement to get involved with everything and try it all, and having absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

Having gotten the hang of a few of the dances my eyes fell on a dance that was introduced to me on my second or third practise with the group.

The illustrious broom dance was introduced as a warm up exercise and I had sadly missed the workshop day for it a month or so earlier. What terrible luck and bad timing!
a broom in waiting
What really roped me into this particularly challenging manoeuvre at first was actually the tune. I have been a huge traditional folk music fan for a few years now so I appreciate a nice tune.

The particular choice of music we have been using for the broom dance is a piece called ‘Four Up’ (Ed.- composed by Barry Goodman). The tune got caught in my head after that first practice and often randomly dives into my mind unexpectedly. Usually, I might add, when trying to sleep. Typical.

My next experience of the broom dance was at one of our events and watched two talented individuals perform the dance in public. I was thankfully able to get someone to film the dance and I knew that even though I had missed out on the workshop I had an opportunity to teach myself the dance.

Using this video and some written instructions I was able to piece together the sections of the dance and practice each part in turn. I was determined that one day I would perfect this particular dance, so I may as well begin working on it now!

Part of me questioned whether I should put effort in to this more challenging action when there were many other easier dances I could try and perfect first. This part was quickly told to shut up and I decided to try and do it anyway, after all there are no limits to what our muscle memory can master.

I finally put the whole routine together with music and had two very different results. The first was that I actually remembered everything in the right order (Result!!), the second was I was more out of breath than I have felt for years.

I thought the challenge was going to be in remembering all the different parts, but it is actually a lot more energetic than it looks!

I was finally ready to add it to my performance list, just needed the final test, to go through with the broom master himself to make sure I actually had it right. For the most part yes, a few little details need improving, but it will becoming easier when I don’t have to focus simply on what is coming next!
paul broom dance june15
I have now done the broom dance publicly three times, and I can feel each time getting better and I don’t quite feel like I’m going to pass out afterwards as much.

Here is to a future of perfecting this tradition and keeping it alive!

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