There are “Furry dances” recorded in this district, both boroughs of East Looe, West
Looe had Maypoles, but sadly no records of the dancing remain.
The traditional Cornish Furry Dance (sometimes known as the “Flora” or “Fairy” dance
was held around the traditional day of the 8th May. Flora was the Roman “spring
godess”. The Cornish word for fair or festival is “fer”. The dance is believed
to be a remnant of a pagan celebration of Spring, and legends say that the dance
was also used to frighten away the devil.
On May Day, Looe children claimed a special privilege, namely, that of picking flowers
for their garlands from other people’s gardens without fear of a telling off.
This day was always full of dance, music and revelry in which people of all ages
and different grades of social standing participated. A procession of costumed dancers,
some wearing clogs, made its way through the decorated streets, shops and gardens.
Houses were adorned with fruit, flowers and trees, and there was traditional dancing
around the maypole. The “Obby Oss”, and imitation stallion, was a fertility symbol,
and it was said that any maidens caught under his skirt during the dance would conceive
within the year.
Regarding the maypole, great rivalry existed within the local villages. The main
activity was to do with the poles concerned the tufts of greenery aloft on the poles.
These were an incitement for the youths of each village to raid neighbouring poles
to capture the tufts. An expert sawyer of Shutta with his trusty “cross cut” was
a popular figure in these games.
Come all ye lads and lassies Join in the festive scene Come dance around the maypole That
will stand upon the green.
A May Queen was crowned to reign over the games, dancing, and festivities.