Seattle's MossyBack Morris Men gather at Gas Works Park every week in summer to honor traditional English dancing and to have beer.

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It took more than 400 years for Morris dancers to get from Bledington and Ducklington in the Cotswold region of England to Gas Works Park in Seattle.

With hankies in hand and bells on their britches, they dance not for pleasure but for performance. It’s a show dance thought “to bring fertility to those who watch (and) bring beer and bad knees to those who dance,” according to one Morris Dance Web site.

Every Thursday evening the MossyBack Morris Men practice in the same spot they’ve used since 1980 in Gas Works. When the weather turns, it’s indoors to a tai chi place in Ballard.

They say that in Olde England you could tell where a person was from by the dance he did.

Shakespeare references the “Morris” in at least three plays: “All’s Well That Ends Well,” “Henry V” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The men of Morris dance to welcome the harvest in fall and they dance to chase away the darkness in winter.

They dance at dawn every May Day and at every Folklife, too.

The MossyBack Morris Men do it to maintain a “vigorous tradition of English dance and music” — and then to retire to a decent pub for a pint.

You can read more about the MossyBacks (who say they’re always looking for a few good men) at