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It is always a great pleasure to dance with Seven Champions Molly Dancers but we now have even more of a connection with them as Janey, one of our latest recruits, provides musical accompaniment for them.
Again, the weather was very kind to us and it was pleasantly warm all evening. The venue was the Five Pointed Star in West Malling and the parking bays outside the pub were cordoned off to provide a good dancing area.
As usual, we alternated dances with Seven Champions so we had ample opportunity to observe their unique style of molly dancing. They are always a pleasure to watch, with their well-drilled action, but laced with a cheeky sense of humour. Both sides pride themselves on exhibiting precision and style and on entertaining the audience - all in all, a good match.
The story of Seven Champions is somewhat shrouded in mystery. Their web site explains that they all work down the treacle mines but emerge to spend their spare time dancing in public, but I wanted to dig a bit deeper. I have spent weeks researching on the internet (OK, so I just did a quick Google) and unearthed some interesting facts.
Firstly, I have managed to confirm the story that they work down the treacle mines. It is mentioned on Wikipedia, so it must be true.
The first time that Seven Champions achieved national recognition was when they were the inspiration for the 1967 UK number one hit called "A Whiter Shade of Ale" by Treacle Harum. If you read the lyrics of the first verse, there is no question that they had just seen the Champs dancing.
We skipped the light fandango
Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
But the crowd called out for more
Although enthusiastic molly dancers, they are also very keen to promote the other forms of morris dancing and have produced a set of useful videos that capture the real spirit of each style. Do take a look.
Emboldened by the success of these videos, they are currently embarking on a series of full-length feature films that are remakes of some classic originals.
First up is a western entitled The Magnificent Seven Champions where they help protect the Kent village of Frittenden which is being terrorised by a mean gang of border bandits.
That is to be followed by that well known musical Seven Pints for Seven Champions. This is the story of how seven brothers have to curb their wild uncouth manners in order to get the ale of their dreams.
And finally, they are negotiating the rights to remake The Seven Champions Itch, that classic romantic comedy. They plan to recreate its iconic scene by having Molly Monroe standing astride the treacle mine shaft with the updraught from the mine causing her dress to billow out. So as not to offend, she will be wearing Kettle Bridge bloomers.
I will end (thank goodness for that!) with a little known fact. For most morris sides, 1st May is the most important date in the year for dancing. However, our friends the "morris miners" revere 31st October when you can see them going from door to door observing the ancient Halloween custom of Treacle Treating.