The Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Constabulary, Tony Melville, today warned the county's Extreme Morris Men that they risk, "arrest, fine, and possible imprisonment", if they participate in any dancing this May Day Bank Holiday weekend.
The underground Cotswold pursuit of Extreme Morris Dancing - which practitioners describe as being similar to the Brazilian dance / martial art hybrid of Capoeira, "only with far more bloodshed and bells" – has seen a dramatic increase in popularity recently. However, this rise has also led to a corresponding hike in the numbers of serious injuries and deaths, which can be directly attributed to participation in this particularly violent form of folk dance.
Mr. Melville explained: "with the Whitsun Bank Holiday Cheese Roll having been cancelled this year, the local youngsters are desperately seeking an alternative adrenalin rush. Unfortunately, Extreme Morris Dancing appears to be filling this gap at the moment."
"Therefore, I am announcing the launch of Operation Maypole today, the aims which are to stamp out this barbaric practice, and to educate and persuade youngsters to channel their energies in to a safer and more worthwhile activity, such as Shin Kicking for example": he said.
However, it would appear that there are those who are willing to ignore the Police warning. The leader of one troupe, The South Cotswold Morris Massive, who dances under the pseudonym of Sash, told us: "I don't care what the filth say, we'll still be out there jingling our bells and crushing skulls – it just wouldn't be May Day otherwise."
"To be honest I don't see what all the fuss is about?": continued Sash. "For centuries Morris Dancing has always been about sex, drugs and violence, all we've done put a bit more of a modern twist on it. So we've replaced the hankies, sticks, inflated pig's bladders and real ale, with Stanley knives, baseball bats, acid filled balloons and class A recreational drugs – it doesn't make us thugs. We're still Morris Men at heart, which is why we retain a lot of the more traditional elements in our performances - like the Straw Boaters, the ankle bells, and of course the really, really big swords."