East Anglian dance traditions

(see also Music traditions in East Anglia, and Major arable crops of East Anglia)

Traditional dance in East Anglia

Molly dancing was revived in the 1980s from an earlier tradition that died out in the 1930s. Whereas morris is widespread in England, molly is peculiar to the Eastern region. Unlike morris, which tends to be danced in uniform whites, molly dancers instead wear colourful, carnivalesque clothing, often cross-gendered. They also black their faces, which was originally a form of disguise. The tradition derives from Plough Monday festivities, and relates to other European traditions where disguised revelling often precedes a day of sanctity. Another dance tradition is East Anglian stepdancing, a vernacular form of tap.  This is danced usually by individuals, who accompany the music by stepping on the spot - often on a wooden board with prepared shoes. Although there are basic steps, these are departed from so as to allow individual improvisation. Stepdancers are usually self-taught, and dance mostly in pubs with traditional musicians.


Dance culture in today's countryside

Rave culture derives from the 1980s, and involves all night dancing, sometimes in a disused warehouse or barn but also outside in fields. Police often discourage or disrupt raves because of the disturbance they can cause to local residents. The law defines a rave as involving a hundred or more people, and gathering in a communal spirit is very much part of the experience. Rave music exploits looped drum and base rhythms and encourages trancelike body movements. Larger raves often employ DJ's, and some feature live band performances. Dancing to bands in countryside settings, however, is mainly confined to organised summer festivals, such as Latitude.