Why the black facepaint
The black faces are a form of disguise.
There were times when farm labourers had to beg to survive, especially in hard winters. They often visited the big houses owned by their employers and entertained them & their staff with music and dance. Begging was illegal with harsh penalties so they had to conceal their identities by blacking their faces and sewing rags onto their smocks.
At that time charcoal or soot would have been used but nowadays we use black facepaint
What is Border Morris?
Border style originated from the Welsh Shropshire borders and doesn’t use hankies; just sticks and bells! Our style is more primitive, rhythmic and involves aggressive stick clashing and in some dances, body slams ! Unlike Cotswold morris, there are relatively few traditional border dances and to be honest they are a bit boring so most of our dances have been choreographed by past & present members of Motley. You might see some of them danced by other morris sides. We don’t mind this at all, we take it as a compliment and part of the “folk process”