It’s not blackface, it’s ‘tradition’
A Morris dance troupe refused to stop performing in blackface because it is a “Lancashire tradition” that dates back over 100 years. On Sunday they had their first performance after the lockdown and said it was a “big success”.
The dangers of Coconut, also known as Nutters, have occurred for the first time since their expulsion from the National Morris Dance Corps. Despite this, the group is supported by the Lancashire BME Network, a group that advocates for diversity and inclusion, as they “recognize that this is a rich cultural tradition linked to Lancashire”.
The detailed history of blackface is relatively unknown, but mainstream theory claims that its origin is from the coal miners who danced after coming out of mines covered in black dust.
However, another theory suggests that factory workers would dance for extra money after painting their faces black, as that meant their bosses couldn’t tell it was them.
Last year, the Joint Morris Organization and the Nutters went their separate ways, with the governing body declaring that “black makeup all over your face or other skin tone is a practice that has the potential to cause deep wounds.”
The organization, which represents more than 800 troops in the UK, demanded that the Nutters stop painting their faces, which the dance troupe refused.
“It has no connection with ethnicity or any form of racial prejudice,” they said.
Apparently, their first performance on Sunday was well received despite some initial reluctance from town market organizers. “The audience turned up in the hundreds. The day was a great success,” said Gavin McNulty, group secretary.