Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

The Morris Lunch at Darling Harbour

The biggest disappointment of my trip has been that I wasn't able to work out dancing or singing with any of the Australian Morris sides. The trip outlines were confined by several defined parameters and the schedule this yielded meant that I would be in Melbourne when the Sydney teams were dancing out and practicing and that I would be in Sydney when the Melbourne team practices. I never found a team in Perth.

But John M., a member of the Sydney Morris Men, invited me to meet him for lunch near his office in the Central Business District on Friday. John emigrated here from Liverpool in the late 60s. It turns out that a lot of Morris in Australia is expatriate British Morris. The first contact person I found for the Sydney Morris Men (from their website) responded to my introductory note by saying he had moved back to England (and forwarding my email to John).

John also invited Peter, a longtime member of both the Sydney Morris Men and the new local mixed side (there's never before been a mixed side in Sydney) -- the mixed side is called the Black Jokers, just like one of the teams in Cambridge Massachusetts. By last-second coincidence, a young man named Matthew who dances with Mersey (?) Morris in Liverpool was passing through town and he joined us as well. Matthew is the third generation of his family to dance on the same Morris team.

John described the possible lunch choices by describing, in great detail, what beer they offered. Yes, this was a Morris dancer. We wound up going to two different places overlooking Darling Harbour. And we talked Morris. The Sydney team dances on Mayday at Mrs. MacQuarry's Chair overlooking the main harbour. The guy from Liverpool danced at Gibralter at dawn last year. The Sydney team is currently struggling -- John says they seem to have more musicians than dancers. He says their problem is that they are all in their fifties and have not been able to recruit a younger generation, even their own children.

It was, in general, a fine and happy lunch and a cool thing to do while traveling, but I oh so wish we could have danced. None of the teams represented, it turns out, are real singing teams -- they have a couple of members who lead songs -- so that fantasy wouldn't have materialized. But I would have liked to have seen how these folks move and interact.

Next time.
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