Cromer Lifeboat crew stepdancing in the 1970s

This YouTube gem shows the Cromer Lifeboat crew stepdancing to a melodeon in the 1970s.

It’s a shame enthusiasts for old and traditional boats tend to ignore the cultural stuff – the songs, stories and dancing – that goes along with sailing and fishing.

But they’re obviously important, and step dancing is in some ways especially precious because it’s so unrecorded. For generations it was ignored by folklorists and historians because it was so very common in the pubs of East Anglia and the south-eastern corner of England¬†and along the South Coast¬†. And then in many places it rapidly disappeared, along with the last generation that practised it.

But all is not lost. Step dancing never quite died out in East Anglia and is now experiencing quite a revival with competitions and exhibitions, as well as spontaneous stepping in pubs. In Kent and Sussex also, families and enthusiasts are keeping the tradition alive, and working to bring it back into the public realm.

My thanks to ace melodeon player Katie Howson of the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust for spotting this one.