The naked truth about Morris dancing in Bexley
13:12 12 October 2012
Forget all you know about Morris dancing. Toss out the bells, discard the braces and prepare for the lesser known, wilder side of traditional folk dancing.
The Gong Scourers are a Crayford based troupe who follow the ‘‘border’’ side of Morris dancing – with an emphasis on individuality and self-expression.
Usually dressed in all-black, this Gothic looking lot continue to subvert conventions by releasing a naked calendar in aid of charity.
With little other than bandanas, boots and stockings to cover their modesty, the Scourers aim to raise £5,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society in a show of heart – albeit a black one.
Group member Glenna Demeter, 52, is spearheading the project after she received great support from the charity when battling for care for her father, Bert, who suffers from dementia.
She said: “I was taking part in a project where we were asking to think of ideas that we couldn’t achieve, so I thought of a naked calendar.
“It was difficult twisting their arms but I just kept saying ‘I’m doing it anyway, so you might as well be in it’.
“Alzheimer’s Society have been so good in helping to get my dad the care he needs.”
Most assumed Glenna was joking up until the moment they had to strip for the shoot in an eerie graveyard on April Fool’s Day.
The group are active between November and May each year and have been so sought after this summer that they have had little time to focus on their raunchy fundraising project.
With 500 printed and ready, Glenna added: “We’ve just been so busy that I’ve hardly had time to sell any but hopefully they’ll all be gone by Christmas and if there’s more demand, we’ll just print up some more.”
Her husband Chris, also a member of The Gong Scourers, explains that the group have always had a slightly “unconventional” side, but their look has been an ever evolving process.
Named after medieval toilet-cleaners, the dancers formerly wore masks and more traditional hats before opting for a punk-inspired look.
“We always dressed in black and white”, Chris said. “But we decided about 10 years ago to update our appearance. We changed our hats to bandanas and our masks to sunglasses.”
“Border dancing is quite undisciplined, you can write your own dances and we are always prepared to push the boundaries, as you can see in our calendar.”
Chris and his fellow Scourers recently featured at the Bexley Beer Festival and practise twice a month at the Crayford Drop In Centre from 8.30pm.
The calendar, featuring 15 of the group’s men and women, is priced at £10, with £7.50 of every sale going straight to the Alzheimer’s Society.
Those looking for an alternative Christmas gift or simply a flash of flesh can visit www.gongscourers.co.uk to order a copy.