The Morris dancers say blacking up their faces harks back to when miners would dance as they emerged from the pits with their faces blackened by coal dust (Picture: Lancashire Telegraph/SWNS)
A troupe of Morris dancers who refuse to stop blacking up their faces have performed for the first time since being kicked out of the national body.
The Coconut Dancers, who are known as the Nutters, insist blacking up is part of a clog-dancing tradition dating back more than 100 years.
They also got the backing from the Lancashire BME Network who said they didn’t object to the dancers using blackface as they ‘recognise its a rich cultural tradition linked to Lancashire’.
It is claimed the tradition dates back to when miners in the area danced as they emerged from the pits with their faces blackened by coal dust.
Another theory is that mill workers would dance to earn extra cash and painted their face black so their bosses wouldn’t know they are dancing for money.
The Nutters danced around the town of Bacup, Lancashire, for five hours on Sunday, and said the performance was a ‘great success’.
Last year, the troupe split from the Joint Morris Organisation after the national body ruled ‘full face black or other skin tone make-up is a practice that has the potential to cause deep hurt’.
The Coconut Dancers split from the Joint Morris Organisation last year (Picture: Lancashire Telegraph/SWNS)
The Nutters danced their way through the Lancashire town of Bacup (Picture: Lancashire Telegraph/SWNS)
The Nutters insist blacking up is not racist (Picture: Lancashire Telegraph/SWNS)
The body, which represents 800 dancing troupes in the UK, then instructed its members to stop blacking up.
But the Nutters vowed to continue with their controversial tradition as they claim ‘it has no connection with ethnicity nor any form of racial prejudice’.
Secretary of the Nutters’, Gavin McNulty, said it was a very good day, adding: ‘The public turned out in their hundreds. The day was a great success.’
Some objections were raised by organisers of the town’s market, but they eventually backed down and allowed them to perform.
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