Slubbing Billy’s are a mixed North West Morris Team, with a reputation for colourful costumes (we call it ‘kit’) and lively, entertaining dances. The team was formed in 1986, and has a healthy age range, from enthusiatic teenagers to more experienced (mature!) members who have danced with the side since it started. Ours is a mixed side, which means we have both men and women dancers and musicians.
Most of the members live in and around the Colne and Holme Valleys near Huddersfield. We all have different backgrounds, but share a love of tradition, good company and the occasional pint of decent beer. We practice at Slaithwaite Community Centre most Tuesday evenings, although in summer you’ll find us out and about dancing at various local pubs instead. Our ‘local’ is The Commercial at Slaithwaite, and we usually replace bodily fluids there after practice nights.
If you live in the Huddersfield area, you may have seen us ‘dancing out’ in the Town centre, or at local events like Holmfirth Festival of Folk. You can’t miss our distinctive purple, white and red costumes (we call it ‘kit’) and flowery bowler hats.
The men’s kit of waistcoat, white collarless shirts, black cord breeches, red knee socks and red and gold sashes is similar to that worn by dancers in Lancashire around 100 years ago. It incorporates locally woven woollen cloth in a distinctive purple, and we wear bowler hats which were ‘sunday best’ wear for ordinary men around that time. Of course, we all wear clogs, shod with ‘irons’, the traditional footwear of the cotton mill workers. The ladies kit is a practical interpretation of the woollen smock dress favoured by weavers for its simple style. Originally, a shawl would have been worn over the top, but the fancy white blouses worn underneath look far better!
North West Morris originated (as the name suggests) in the North West of England, and was danced by mill workers on their high days and holidays, mainly for fun, although it is also traditional to collect money. No doubt this supplemented their wages, helping them to break the drudgery of their poorly paid mill life. It may have its origins in the rural dance tradition, in that the dances are in sets, and are composed of a number of figures, similar in this respect to the older Cotswold style. Each town had its own dance, and most are still called after the place where they originated.
If you like dancing, good company, and the occasional drink, then you might like to join us.You don’t have to be a ‘folky’ but most of us appreciate traditional dance and/or music and have an interest one way or another in the folk related arts. Contact one of the people on the contacts page, or have a chat with any team member at a dance out. Whether you’re a prospective dancer or musician, previous experience isn’t needed. All you need is the interest and enthusiasm – we can do the rest!
Practise nights are on Tuesdays, from September until the end of April 8-10pm.
We don’t limit ourselves to performing in Yorkshire – we’ve put in appearances all over the country at Folk Festivals and Morris events, including the famous Sidmouth Folk Festival. In 2003 we ventured across the North Sea to Holland, and danced in Utrecht, Gouda and various other surrounding towns. We enjoyed this so much that we did it again in 2006 only this time we went to Bruge in Belgium. In 2009 we went to Ostend in Belgium with Stockport Morris Men.