Morris dance ‘is world’s largest’

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Crowds of families packed into Preston’s Flag Market to watch an “absolutely wonderful” world record attempt.

Dancers flocked to the city to try to break the record for the world’s largest Morris dance, thought to have been smashed by the team.

Morris dancers perform in the Flag Market, Preston, during a day of dance which culminated in a world record attempt

Morris dancers perform in the Flag Market, Preston, during a day of dance which culminated in a world record attempt

A total of 144 Morris dancers performed in the centre of Preston, stealing the record from the previous 88.

Murray Riggs, secretary of Leyland-based Stone the Crows Border Morris Dancers, said the event went “brilliantly”.

He said: “Hopefully we broke the record, subject to Guinness verification.

“We had two witnesses, and we had stewards counting. We had a barriered-off area on the Flag Market, everybody had to be counted in with a numbered ribbon and give that back at the end.

We had two witnesses, and we had stewards counting. We had a barriered-off area on the Flag Market, everybody had to be counted in with a numbered ribbon and give that back at the end

“We had 144 dancers and the record is 88.

“We were expecting about 120 but we managed to get 144 because we had lots of people who joined us from other local teams.

“We had loads of people and lots of musicians, probably about 30 or 40 musicians playing.

“So it was a good atmosphere on the Flag Market.

Morris dancers perform in the Flag Market, Preston, during a day of dance which culminated in a world record attempt

Morris dancers perform in the Flag Market, Preston, during a day of dance which culminated in a world record attempt

“There were crowds of people watching.”

The dancers had to dance for a minimum of five minutes, and Murray said: “I’m feeling exhausted and just relieved it’s over.

“It’s been a lot of work but it’s great, everybody got a real buzz out of it. We had a lot of help from the events team at Preston Council. When we first applied we thought 88 would be easy, then when we got the paperwork back and there were 29 pages of 
regulations (from Guinness World Records).

“We had to have the fenced-off area and it had to be videoed from above. We thought there’s no way we can do this but the events team said they could help.”

Morris dancers perform in the Flag Market, Preston, during a day of dance which culminated in a world record attempt

Morris dancers perform in the Flag Market, Preston, during a day of dance which culminated in a world record attempt

Mayor of Preston, Coun Margaret McManus, was one of the official witnesses to the attempt and described it as “fantastic”.

She said: “We had the time of our lives.

“It was a magnificent sight, everybody was looking, it was absolutely wonderful. It was colourful, and the number of people who came to watch it was absolutely fantastic.”

Some Morris dancers still wear black marks on their faces – or masks – to mark the tradition of farm labourers dancing and busking and wanting to hide their identities from their employers. It was also seen as a mark of rebellion against the rural rich.

Morris dancers perform in the Flag Market, Preston, during a day of dance which culminated in a world record attempt

Morris dancers perform in the Flag Market, Preston, during a day of dance which culminated in a world record attempt

Morris dancers perform in the Flag Market, Preston, during a day of dance which culminated in a world record attempt

Morris dancers perform in the Flag Market, Preston, during a day of dance which culminated in a world record attempt