Otley’s one and only mixed Border Morris side was founded in 1993 and first burst onto the public stage on May 1st 1994. Since then the side has grown in numbers and they have attended many major folk festivals throughout England, dancing with sides from all over England and the USA, Australia, Romania and France.
The side have travelled widely and been hailed as “true ambassadors of Morris” by the Open Morris (but the committee were drunk at the time!).
Originally the side was made up of a small group of seven friends who had their roots in the vibrant Otley Folk scene. The four ‘gals’, Anita, Jennie, Fran and Ann, had ‘cut their teeth’ in a North West ladies Morris side from Otley’s, “the Buttercross Belles”, (formed in early 1993 and still going strong). The lads, Nick, Simon and Derek, were keen to dance, but with sticks in their hands rather than hankies. For ‘our’ Derek it was a dream come true, after founding and running the Otley Folk Festival he had assumed he was doomed to be a drummer all his life! Now he was a dancer at last, it might have been short lived but he enjoyed it. From dancing in a cellar, never far from a barrel of beer, the side grew and a bigger venue was needed, not to mention a bigger barrel of beer.
Within a few months the side had grown and by early 1995 there were 15 in the side. As the side saw what others could do they were inspired and started to write their own dances as well as perform versions of the few notated Border dances that survive. They quickly developed their own style of Border which involved speed, flare and a reckless disregard for their own personal safety! An early visit to the infamous Madcap weekend in Malvern and a few other workshops in the south of England introduced the side to a whole new network of fellow Border dancers. Friendships blossomed, ideas were exchanged and soon Wayzgoose were receiving invitations from far and wide.
The popularity of Wayzgoose increases as each year passes. We have even been approached by a ‘professional agent’! However, it was decided that Don King, despite his admirable Border Morris hairstyle, would cramp our independence, so we declined after a brief round or two. Yet Wayzgoose keeps it’s head, even if at times some of it’s members are legless, and doesn’t forget that the reason for dancing is for fun, to entertain and have a good time – as often as possible.