In May 1999, the Long Man Morris Men took their third trip to Germany, attending the 30th "Internationalen Trachtentreffen" in Klusserath, a small, neat village on the banks of the river Mosel, not too far downstream from Luxembourg. We previously attended in 1993 and 1997 and have been warmly welcomed on each occasion. This is a famous wine-producing area, and steep hills rise sharply behind the village, covered in vines. Klusserath has a ‘Winzertanzgruppe’ (Vintner’s Dance Group) and they organise the festival bi-annually. Dance teams from all over Europe (and beyond) are invited; this year there were sides from Denmark, Switzerland (two, one a ‘yodelling choir’!) Portugal, Poland, Belgium (they did an interesting 7-man Longsword dance with displayed lock) Lettland (Latvia) Austria and Argentina, as well as Long Man and the local side. Accommodation is indoor-camping at the local junior school, and meals are provided – the only cost involved to us was travel.
An enormous marquee houses most of the entertainment – at a rough guess, it would easily hold 1500 people. Stalls selling wine and beer, and a sort of ‘Chip und Wurst’ waggon keep thirst and hunger at bay (beer takes second place to wine here!) Seating is on narrow benches at trestle tables, performers at the front, audience at the back!
Each side has about 15 minutes to display on the Saturday night, and this takes place on a stage at one end of the tent. The stage is fairly roomy and well sprung, and high quality PA is provided. We found that there was a tendency for the stage to ‘take over ‘ our dancing, and made everyone want to ‘stamp’ more than usual. Needless to say, we were utterly unlike any of the other sides present, and managed to generate a considerable amount of noise, despite being far fewer in number. We danced Black Joker (Bledington), The Quaker (Bampton), Jockey to the Fair (Brackley) and two of our own Wilmington dances. The majority of the other dancers had never seen Morris Dancing before, and were most taken by it. We have been a success on all three occasions, and hope to be invited again.
The other ‘set-piece’ is a procession around the village on the Sunday afternoon, and as well as the invited teams, there are representatives from all the other neighbouring villages, mostly vintner’s groups. We found it very difficult to display our processional talents adequately, as people would insist on approaching us with bottles of wine – we in turn felt obliged to stop and relieve them of their burden!
The marquee also hosts late night discos, and on the Sunday night, a live rock band. This brings in a different audience, but despite the number of people, and the alcohol, there has never been the slightest hint of trouble – everyone seems so good-natured, and none of us has ever seen a single policeman or police car anywhere near the village across the entire weekend on any of the three occasions we have attended!
We have tended to go and dance at a pub on the Sunday evening – on our first trip we thought it polite to ask, and this was greeted with amazement – ‘why do you wish to dance at a pub? – ‘Because it’s what we do!’ Consultation with the said pub brought forth permission, and we have been there on every trip. The hospitality that we received each time can only be described as overwhelming – would that it happened in England occasionally!
Other delights include wine tasting at local vintners, with, of course, the opportunity to purchase, and visiting the nearest large town, Trier. The area was settled by the Romans, and boasts the ‘Porta Negra’, the Black Gate, a magnificent Roman gatehouse. The town itself boasts a wealth of fine sixteenth century houses, painted in delicate pastel shades, many with ornate painted statues.
It is always good to spread the gospel beyond these shores, and we shall be ready to undertake more missionary work should the opportunity arise – Nirvana will be reached the day Harvey’s Brewery take a space in the marquee!
Bagman, Long Man Morris Men