Militant Morris Men Will Flashmob Olympics

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Traditional morris dancers will turn to modern technology to protest during the London Olympics

The morris men of England are turning militant and using technology to fuel their revolt against the London 2012 Olympics Organising Committee.

The various troupes have set themselves against the organisers because they fear being overlooked for the opening ceremony pageant. Judging by the tableau during the hand-over ceremony in Beijing, China,  in 2008, the celebration will concentrate on modern London and Britain rather than the rich traditions for which the country is known.

Boyle’s Brollywood production

Danny Boyle, director of Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting, is the primary artistic director for the opening ceremony. His premise is to “re-think” tradition using British pop and rock culture and “bits of British films”.

This implies there will be no room for real tradition and, despite the promised tight security to fend off terrorists, eco-warriors and anti-capitalist activists, the morris teams are planning flashmobs.

These impromptu groups will descend on the various venues to perform their dances, armed with sticks and handkerchiefs. As a stealth mob, the dancers will have a distinct disadvantage with their colourful cross belts (baldrics) and bell pads fastened to their shins.

Flashmobs are a modern phenomenon enabled by the arrival of mobile phones. In its infancy, these were fun “happenings” where dozens of people would text one another to meet at a venue and perform dances or just stand statue-like in public places.

As smartphones and Twitter became more popular, the flashmob took on a political bent. A large group of people gathered outside a London pub when a gay couple were ejected. More recently, a darker side showed though as marauding packs of looters ripped through shopping centres up and down the country.

5,000 morris dancers

The morris teams are bringing back the traditional fun aspect of flashmobbing to make their point. They are already angry with Sebastian Coe, chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). When asked what Britain would do to match the Beijing opening ceremony he sarcastically quipped, “5,000 morris dancers”.

In much the same way that many IT specialists get involved with recreating famous historical wars as some kind of retro-pastime, there is often an IT guy in a morris team. Indeed, our very own editor, Peter Judge (pictured) is a member of the London Pride Morris. It is no surprise therefore that  modern morris dancers are often seen quickly checking their smartphone is switched off before taking their place in a set.

The flashmobs are the idea of Paul Reece, the Olympics liaison officer for Britain’s morris dancers. “We will get together and launch these impromptu events. We want to put our indigenous culture on the map,” he told The Mail on Sunday:

In militant mood, eWEEK Europe editor Judge said, “There is still time for the Olympic organisers to come to their senses and make the only decent decision – Morris for ever!”

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