Radio

Dancers At Dawn

BBC RADIO 4 - 29TH APRIL 2021

SHORTLISTED: THE AIBs 2021: ARTS & CULTURE

 

On the 1st May 1987 Martin Green’s dad takes him Morris dancing before dawn on Wandlebury Hill outside Cambridgeshire. Many years later, at sunrise on his twenty-third birthday, he walks home from a rave over this same hill.

 

This uncanny coincidence has got him thinking. To most people, Morris dancing and [raving] rave culture seem so far apart. We like to think we know what sorts of people do what. So, what do these two groups have in common that drives them out into the fields to dance at dawn?

As an accordionist, producer and storyteller, Martin’s own work lives somewhere between traditional music, electronic music and theatre. In 2020 he made a podcast, called The Portal, that linked the ancient traditions of English dancing to the birth of rave in the 1980s, which led him to draw on events from his own life, of dawn Morris dancing and sunrise raves. This documentary explores those themes. Why do we dance at dawn? Is there an innate desire to do so?

 

Recollecting his experiences with his father and rave friend Becky, Martin uncovers the traditions and rituals surrounding each activity. He speaks to others who have danced at dawn and seeks expert advice from [the] DJ Lee Burridge, who’s famous for his full moon parties in Thailand and sunrise sets at Burning Man festival.

 

Taking all this experience on board, Martin undertakes a solo experiment. Removing all people and connections he drives on his own, in the dark to a remote field near his house with a mission. He wants to find out what it is about the music, the dancing and the surroundings that makes dancing at dawn truly special.

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