Molly dancing developed out of the country dances of East Anglia, and was traditionally danced by plough boys during the winter when there was no ploughing work to be done and money was hard to come by. In the 18th century molly dancing was banned in the city of Cambridge as it was a form of begging or extracting money with menaces – molly gangs would dance at people until they were paid to go away!
Gog Magog Molly was formed in 1996 by a group of Cambridge folk and morris dancers for the 80th birthday of Cyril Papworth, who researched and recorded traditional Cambridgeshire feast dances. Gogs’ first performance was of dances in a non-traditional style influenced by the Ouse Washes and Seven Champions molly dancers. Since then, Gogs have developed a unique high-energy, geometric dance style and a repertoire of dances written mostly by our side members (with a few borrowed from other molly sides). Inspirations for our dances range from Playford, contra and other folk dance traditions to a maths PhD in chaos theory.
The team’s name comes from the Gog Magog hills to the south of Cambridge (whether or not the hills themselves are named after the legendary giant Gogmagog or the two apocalyptic figures Gog and Magog isn’t known).