Black Adder Morris was formed in Birmingham in 1984.
Tradition has it that the side was formed on a very boozy night in the Dirty Duck in Edgbaston. Such a mad idea had to come from somewhere and it was brought to life by a small number of people who wanted to dance together as a mixed side, which was not available locally at the time.
The name was to be ‘Red Dragon Morris’ which was reflected in the red dungarees with bright yellow gold shirts they all wore, but after six months an evolution took place and it transformed into ‘Black Adder’. This was because after practice every Thursday night they all went round to someone’s house to watch a videoed episode of Blackadder (after the pub, of course)!
The side wanted to base their dancing loosely on the North West tradition as there weren’t any sides like this in Birmingham at the time. Some of the new founders had already danced in the Cotswold tradition and were bored with it and, as they wanted to all dress alike and dance together rather than wearing skirts if female, and standing on separate sides of the set, they decided to throw all that to the winds and be liberated and outrageous.
They wrote some dances, learnt them, decked themselves out in their new kit and went out and performed them! They weren’t highly polished and made mistakes (we still do) they weren’t all in line (we still aren’t) BUT they had a great time (we still do) and people asked them back because they were different and their joy and enthusiasm spilled over to the audience (it still happens)
Over the years we have written more dances, and that is still happening today. We have even learnt a few traditional North West dances (but have interpreted them a bit more in our own Black Adder style). We have concentrated a bit more on performance, but Black Adder has never been a dedicated ‘show’ side or taken itself too seriously. Our aim has always been to entertain and to carry on enjoying ourselves.
Our music has always been a very important part of who we are and we have been very lucky with our musicians over the years. We currently have border pipes, melodeons, an accordion, a fiddle, concertinas, a mandolin, recorders, a drum and tambourine percussion
The red dungarees idea lasted for quite a long time until it was decided to have another think. This resulted in becoming a little more practical. We have kept the gold shirts and belts and the clogs, of course, but additionally we are now clad in black trousers and a red+gold+black rag jacket. When it’s cold, we also wear a red or black fleece, Our musicians wear black.
The Black Adder tradition is alive and kicking (literally!) and as long as we retain the fun element and continue to write and perform outrageous dances, it will grow and mature as all good morris traditions should.