Truculent Rustics:

Molly Dancing in East Anglia before 1940

By Elaine Bradtke


What is Molly dancing? Where did it come from? Who performed it and why? What did it look like? And where did the name come from? These are just some of the questions addressed in Truculent Rustics.  Although it has undergone a revival in the past twenty years, the history of this little-known English display dance form is not well documented.  This publication is intended to fill that gap.

Molly dancing developed from the amalgamation of Plough Monday celebrations with other customary modes of community expression.  The result was a boisterous celebration that combined intimidation with performance. Riots, rough music, house-to-house alms-seeking, Christmas-time misrule and the traditional use of disguise, such as women’s clothing and black-face are discussed in their role as antecedents.

The text is followed by an appendix listing Molly dancers by their home village with brief descriptive notes concerning their appearance and performance.

40 pages, Illustrated, ISBN 0 903515 180.

To Order:

Send a cheque or money order payable to The Folklore Society for 4.50 pounds sterling, or 8.00 US dollars (post and packing included) to:
The Folkore Society
c/o The Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB
Online ordering coming soon - check their site to see if it is available
(Registered Charity No. 1074552 )

Or, buy it via Amazon at


For information on what Molly dancing is like in the revival, see

Step Change: New views on traditional dance

                                  Edited by Georgina Boyes

ISBN 1 903427 09 6; 201 pages 21 illustrations in black and white; £10

The study of traditional dance has changed dramatically over the last ten years, bringing in previously unregarded types of dance and challenging the assumptions of the early Folk Dance Revival. Step Change introduces the enthusiast and the general reader alike to seven views of English traditonal dance, some controversial, that reflect this new approach: English sword dancing and the European context; Ladies' clog dance contests of the 1890s; ownership of the Britannia Coco-Nut dances of Bacup, Lancashire; The tradition of 'Molly' dances of East Anglian farm workers and its reinvention in the 1970s; etc.

for more information and to order see: