Dancing England was a series of showcase traditional dance concerts held at the Derby Assembly Rooms from 1979 to 1987.
They were devised and curated by Phil Heaton and John Shaw, members of the Black Cap Sword Dancers, and two very notable characters on the Nottingham and Derby folk and dance scene of the 1970s.
The event was set up to showcase the best of traditional dance in the UK, along with unique and/or interesting folk customs to celebrate the UK’s wide cultural heritage.
In 1979 Phil and John of Black Cap decided to hold a ‘Feast’ and invite the best dancers from across the UK as their guests, and so the idea of Dancing England was born.
The event was held in the evening and consisted of a series of performances by dance teams across all the styles of English traditional dance; Cotswold Morris, Rapper Sword, Longsword, North West, Step Clog dancing, Border, Molly, and much more.
There were also performances by mummers and Pace Eggers, musicians and from some of the more idiosyncratic traditional teams; notably The Britannia Coconut Dancers, Abbotts Bromley Horn Dancers and the Whittlesey Straw Bear.
There were stalls selling music, ephemera and crafts, films, workshops and talks. The event was refreshed with plenty of real ale, and finished with a ceilidh late at night.
After Dancing England came to an end in 1987, there was a brief reprise in 1993 at the same venue for the Daughter of Dancing England event. This only ran for one year, and both Dancing England and Daughter of same have been sadly missed.
However, February 2017 saw Dancing England rise again. A reinvigorated event was held on Saturday 18th February at Sheffield City Hall.
2019 sees Dancing England come to Nottingham, Saturday 26th January.