Dancing the Night Away

The Ladies of the Rolling Pin welcome the first May dawn at the Towers in Narragansett

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Every May, at dawn’s first light on the month’s first day, traditional Welsh dancing teams greet the new sun. It’s a symbolic tradition, one dating back hundreds of years to 15th century England, meant to wake the Earth from its long winter slumber. Tradition also dictates that, historically speaking, these dancers are men.

But since 1998, The Ladies of the Rolling Pin have greeted the first May sun on the shores of Narragansett. In lieu of the customary sticks, they wave domestic instruments, like sifters and the rolling pins they take their name from.

“The ladies are Rhode Island’s only all-female Border Morris Team,” explains member Monica Van Horn. Border Morris is a specific style of the dance that originated along the border of Wales. “We enjoy a comedic take on the traditional forms,” she says. Hence the rolling pins, a tongue-in-cheek nod to women’s historical exclusion from the festivities.

The sun will rise at 5:43am this May Day, and The Ladies of the Rolling Pin will be at The Towers on Narragansett Beach, eager to greet it for yet another year with song and dance. Monica says, “We enjoy dancing with [the] ocean as the backdrop of the sunrise since it is one of the elements that makes our community so beautiful.”

A community potluck breakfast will be served afterwards. 5:43am is awful early, but don’t feel bad if you miss it. Morris dance teams greet May Day all over the world. An overachieving late sleeper could always try to outrun the sun to a different time zone. But if you prefer your May Day festivities shackled to the laws of physics, you may want to set an alarm.