The Saga Of The Large Maypole

Back in the days when we were able to perform at large events (remember them?!), a large maypole was constructed to our outline specification for the village green at BBC Countryfile Live. Over the next 3 years it provided a spectacular focal point for us and members of the public during approximately 40 performances at both Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard.
Then, like so many things in lockdown, it was unused and stuck in a warehouse for a year, and the organisers of Countryfile Live offered it to us. Thanks to the generosity of some team members we were able to purchase it and, during the discussion, the idea of giving it a new home at the Chiltern Open Air Museum came up. Enquiries were made, discussions took place and all parties were in agreement.
Last week, in the final stage of the Saga, the maypole was installed in its new home at COAM, with the ribbons safely stored nearby and ready to be used when we are able to perform again. So far the only audience has been a flock of sheep in the small field next to it! There was also considerable excitement when the maypole delivery crew met COAM’s wonderful fork lift – a museum piece in its own right.
The Museum reopened on 26th March, and now visitors can admire the maypole in its new home. The first chance to see it with ribbons and dancers will come on Sunday 23rd May when the mAy team will be visiting to demonstrate and discuss the dances in an informal Live Rehearsal. This event will also feature plenty of music and the many other traditional country dances that our audiences have come to expect.
Other aspects of the Maypole programme, such as volunteer training, school sessions, weddings and corporate training, will be introduced as restrictions are lifted, and we are looking forward to a spectacular End Of Season show with full audience participation in September.

Urban Maypole Dancing

2020 was a quieter summer than we’d hoped, with events at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Spring Live and Countryfile Live being cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but we are pleased to share a few maypole snaps with you today!

Back in October, our leader Mike Ruff took part in a photoshoot for LAW magazine, involving long ribbons attached to CCTV poles at various sites around London. These are for a feature in January’s issue, linking traditional and urban cultures.

Mike’s role was initially providing the ribbons, but at the last minute he was asked to act as teacher and dance consultant too!

The first site was less than half a mile from Whitelands College, where in 1881 John Ruskin introduced Maypole Dancing as we know it now to a group of teachers in training!

A flurry of events for May Day

A busy time for the mAy team; we went to Butser Ancient Farm and met the Wickerman on the 29th April, returned to the Swiss Garden on the 30th April and Bath University on the 6th May. What an enjoyable time we all had! Photos from these events can be found in the Gallery.

Thanks to the Phabulous PHAMS we had the mAy Team sashes for the first time. Badges and more costume to come.

End Of Season

Following the outstanding successes of our events at the Swiss Garden and Countryfile Live, The mAy team already looks forward to returning to those events next year. No doubt there will be many other enquiries.

To be able to do all of these we may need more members and are likely to be holding a workshop day in the spring. If you are a musician or dancer and would like to be involved, please let us know.

At the moment most of our events are in the South East and South Midlands.