These are the men of Old Glory Molly Dancers. For the procession they are clothed in long black overcoats and have blacked up faces. Some of the men carry a stretcher or bier loaded with small toy bears. They are accompanied by similarly black-clad women with extraordinary headgear woven from copious amounts of ivy. These women carry small black cases.
When it comes their turn to dance the men take off their overcoats to reveal an array of old waistcoats and cord trousers worn over hobnailed boots. They look unlikely dancers and indeed they perform an unlikely dance!
With never a smile on their black countenances the men grasp each other and with ponderous, galumphing steps they proceed with their dance.
The small cases carried by the women turn out to contain their musical instruments. What an extraordinary sight, and sound, they make.
Three of the musicians with their instruments, one-row melodeons in the key of C, very like Cajun accordions, but with slightly different tuning and very different tunes. Their instruments also include whistles, drums and, believe it or not, a tea-chest bass.
In case you don't catch it at the beginning of the video clip the man tells you that the dance is called "The Buck" after their local pub in Rumborough, Suffolk. He also says it's nice to see so many smiling faces which, in view of their solemn demeanour, gets a laugh from the audience. At the end of the dance a man appears to be approaching the camera, he then veers to his left and plants a very sooty kiss on the cheek of one of the ladies in the crowd.
Here then are The Old Glory Molly Dancers: