A black street sign with Morris Dancing Here written in chalk
Photo credit: Peplow/iStock

London Morris: Travelcard Day of the Dance, 2022

A London-wide Morris dance extravaganza is planned for Saturday, October 8th, in aid of two charities. We caught up with the organiser, James Denny.

James Denny has been “Morrising” for 19 of his 37 years on this planet. In order to celebrate this fact, and to raise money for charities close to hhe has decided to organise the Travelcard Day of the Dance on Saturday, October 8th. It looks like a Morrisathon of quite exhausting proportions, but who doesn’t love to see a hop and a jig in aid of a decent charity or two? What’s more, Denny is inviting all-comers to dance alongside him.

Denny is something of a London Morris legend already. It seems there’s barely a side he isn’t involved with. He’s the Squire/Bag for Arc & Shovel Morris (“the transport industry’s very own Morris dance side”), a musician and dancer for the Thames Valley Morris Men and London Pride Morris Men, musician/horse/makeshift dancer for the Belles of London City, and a musician for Lyme Morris. He’s also heavily involved with running the annual Croydon Night of the Dance events. In short, anyone turning up at the Travelcard Day of the Dance is in very safe hands.

A map of the dance-outs

Denny’s intention is to dance on as many modes of public transport as possible, as well as at pre-determined locations (see the map above, and the timings below). He’ll be involving the five sides that he performs with, and he’d love to see more Morris sides and dance enthusiasts joining in. If you’re a Morris dancer/squire/bag/musician/fanatic and you’d like to be part of this London-wide spectacular, get in touch (you can find him on Instagram as @johnocleese, or via any of his Morris sides). Anyone reaching out before September 1st will have their side’s name included on the official poster.

If you’re not a dancer or musician and you still want to help, Denny is also looking for volunteer production managers, bucket collectors and leafleters. Get in touch with the man himself if you think that might sound like you.

The event is being held as a fundraiser in support of two charities. Denny explains, “my daughter’s first brother was born with congenital heart defects and is treated at Southampton General Hospital. Two groups work extremely hard there to make things easier for families and children going through what Louis does, including putting on day trips for the families, offering support on and off the wards, and even commissioning paediatric ambulances.”

Families of Ocean Ward (FooW, 1145013) are, “a parent-led charity supporting children with heart conditions and their families that have been or are treated on Ocean Ward, Southampton General Hospital. They offer hardship grants, equipment for use by families on the ward and at home, and social events to support children and families.” Friends of PICU (1183373) work, “to relieve sickness and to preserve the health of the patients of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Southampton University Hospital, by providing or assisting in the provision of equipment, facilities and services not always able to be provided by the statutory authorities, and to contribute to every part of the wellbeing of the child and their family.”

The timings for the event are listed below. Denny explains, “The core times of the day, where I’m hoping my five sides will be joining us, are 11:40 (on the South Bank, not far from Waterloo station) to 16:00, where we will finish a spot outside Cecil Sharp House. During this time the aim is to process along the South Bank and across Regent’s Park, subject to permissions. I would appreciate people/sides/musicians accompanying me throughout the day, and you are welcome to dip and out where you want.”

Travelcard Day of the Dance timings

Please note that the following times are, at the time of writing, still subject to change. Follow James Denny on Instagram to keep up with alterations.

  • 8am – A dance for Sandy Denny (James Denny is a relative) at Putney Vale Cemetery, with a blessing for the success of the day
  • 8.30am – Sides convene at The Wibbas Down Inn, Wimbledon, for breakfast
  • 10am – train dance to Vaxuhall
  • 10.15am to 11am – dance next to Vauxhall Pier
  • 11.11am (timed) – ferry dance to Embankment
  • 11.40am – dance, drink, lunch at the South Bank, plus a massed jig on the beach, should the tides allow
  • 1pm – dance/process to Blackfriars Station
  • 1.40pm – train dance to Farringdon, then tube dance to Baker Street
  • 2.20pm – walk to Regent’s Park – opportunity to top up drinks on the way
  • 2.50pm – dance/process across Regent’s Park to Cecil Sharp House
  • 3.20pm to 4pm – dance outside Cecil Sharp House
  • 4.23pm (timed) – train dance from Camden Road to Stratford 
  • 4.45pm – opportunity to perform with local scout group, possible pub stop
  • 5.15pm – DLR dance to King George V then walk to North Woolwich Pier – opportunity to top up drinks on the way
  • 6pm – Ferry dance to Woolwich Arsenal then walk to railway station – opportunity to dance and top up drinks on the way
  • 7pm – train dance to Waterloo East, followed by a music session (TBC)

To register your interest in taking part, reach out to James Denny on @johnocleese.