Tune of the Day: Rochdale Coconut Dance
This English country dance tune is used for a polka step in the North‑West morris dance tradition. In 1927, Anne Gilchrist published the tune in her article “The Lancashire Rush-Cart and Morris Dance” in the Journal of the English Folk Dance Society. It had been sent to her by Dr. Henry Brierley, a native of the cotton-mill town of Rochdale, Lancashire, who said the tune was used to accompany the Rochdale rushcart in the 1850s. Gilchrist writes:
The dancers held half a coco-nut shell in each hand, a half-shell also being strapped to each knee, and clapped the shells rhythmically to the following unvarying tune, played by the band. The dance was stationary, but according to his recollection the coco-nut dancers preceded the drawing-team of young men, ‘prancing’ in the procession. The tune has a general resemblance to Mr. Cecil Sharp's traditional versions of both Country Gardens and Hunt the Squirrel. I have seen no other record of this dance.