It all started for us with a few people, who danced English traditional dances, bewailing the fact that there was no Side, within a 30-mile radius, who danced North West Morris which was open to both men & women dancers. The only solution seemed to be to form a Side of our own, hence the inception of Phoenix Clog, in June 2009.
The name came quite naturally out of the name of the Working Men’s Club, where we began to practise, every Wednesday evening.
North West Morris is danced in clogs, which are believed to have developed from wooden soled Roman bath shoes. The clogs found in England are not like the Dutch sabot, which are carved totally from wood, but have leather uppers, with wooden soles, shod in rubber or sometimes iron. To see a dancer strike sparks from his clogs, while dancing in ‘irons’, is quite a sight. Clogs were once used as the normal agricultural footwear, but with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, with its associated mass production, their cheapness made clogs the normal footwear of the working people, especially in the North of England. Clog dancing largely began as processional dances, accompanying parades, particularly the Rush Cart processions, where the rushes covering the church floors were changed at the beginning of the new season.
The term ‘Morris’ is a broad church and the name is applied generally to all the ritual dances of England, including Cotswold Morris, Border Morris, from the English/Welsh marches, Molly Dancing, from the Fen country, Long Sword Dances, from Yorkshire and Rapper Sword dancing from the North East, as well as our own North West Morris.