Maypole Dancing

Maypole Tradition

The custom of Maypole dancing used to be a medieval Pagan dance for fertility. In days gone by, only young girls danced around the maypole, but nowadays both boys and girls, men and women, take part in the dance. The introductory dance consists of 10 or more dancers who stand in a circle around a wooden pole three to five metres tall with a crown on the top to which ribbons are attached. When the music starts, the dancers take four steps towards the maypole and raise their arms in air, they then take four steps back and lower the arms. They then circle the maypole to the count of eight and the same procedure starts again.

There are many variations of maypole dancing, but the most common dance is the ‘Plaiting Dance’ whereby dancers circle around the maypole whilst wrapping or plaiting the ribbons around the pole. The dancers hold the ribbons in their right hand and move in the same direction around the pole but they are not allowed to overtake each other otherwise a knot will be formed in the ribbon. The dancers start the dance when the music begins and they continue to dance until the ribbon has been wrapped around the maypole. The dancers then they have to reverse their steps to unwind the maypole. If they have unwrapped the ribbon without any knots then they have successfully completed the plaiting dance. It looks a lot easier than it looks.

To learn more about maypole dancing and different dance routines such as the ‘Grand Chain’ and the ‘Gypsies Tent’, log onto: