Why is Morris Dancing Exempt from the Licensing Act 2003?

The Licensing Act 2003 came into force on 24th November 2005. It established a single integrated scheme for licensing premises which are used for the supply of alcohol, and/or to provide regulated entertainment, and/or to provide late night refreshment. “Regulated entertainment” means the commercial or public provision of any of the following:

  • the performance of a play
  • an exhibition of a film
  • an indoor sporting event
  • boxing or wrestling entertainment
  • a performance of live music
  • any playing of recorded music
  • a performance of dance
  • entertainment of a similar description to live music, recorded music or dance
  • facilities for allowing people to make music
  • facilities for allowing people to dance
  • facilities for allowing entertainment of a similar description to making music or dancing

When this Bill was going through Parliament, morris dancers were very concerned that it would destroy our traditional activities in their traditional settings. The three national morris organisations therefore lobbied hard and successfully to seek exemption. As a result, Schedule 1 Part 2 Clause 11 specifically exempts morris dancing and related music from the provisions of the Act (provided that the music is unamplified). Therefore we don’t need an entertainment licence to dance, and people who permit us to dance in public on their premises don’t need an entertainment licence to provide us with dancing facilities. To see the actual wording of the exemption, click here and scroll to Clause 11.

The above is an explanation and does not, of course, constitute legal advice.