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Black-faced Morris dancers

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blacked up morris dancers abused in uk (323)
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Subject: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 09:11 AM

I am surprised that nobody has commented on the press reaction to a recent photograph of PM Cameron standing in the midst of some black-faced Morris dancers. Needless to say that the media are concentrating on the non-PC faces, rather than on the PM's interest(?) on traditional dancing!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 09:21 AM

What a load of tosh. Surely our PM should stand up for English traditions?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 09:24 AM

And the buggers let him get away intact? I thought that's what rapper was about.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 09:54 AM

A thread to discuss why people didn't comment on the original thread!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 09:55 AM

Goes to show the ignorance shown about our traditions, blacking up is historic, not racist.

The thing I fail to understand is why any self respecting morris side would want to be photographed posing with Cameron!

John


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 10:34 AM

Some Morris outfits are not SO different from some of these, and I would be surprised if the Papuans are criticised for being racist.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 10:42 AM

Ye Gods. The press making a mountain of a story out of a nothing type molehill. Whatever next?

Well, think back very carefully. Much the same thing happened at Bacup this year.

All I can say is the dancers in question can't be very good trade unionists. If they were, they'd have blacked Cameron. (Blacked; as in to ostracise blacklegs or strikebreakers, or anti-trade union politicians.)


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 11:09 AM

The 'disguise' theory is only one of several, alongside the 15th century influence of Moorish dancers and the 19th century influence of minstrel shows (this last theory also relates to the Bacup dancers). Certainly for a modern audience, blacking up is synonymous with minstrelry, so its no surprise racist connotations are assumed. I'd suggest that regardless of the theories, if you black up at least expect some shit to fly.

I doubt tribal customs whereby black people paint their faces black are going to attract criticisms about racism, Topsie, unless you're suggesting these Papuans are being racist towards themselves! Though Robert Hornback compares border morris to crude parodies of African tribal war dances, predating minstrelsy and contributing to that tradition.

There's nothing to stop modern morris dancers in a multicultural society painting their faces in other colours, as some do. It's not like BM hasn't been reinvented in other ways...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Reynard
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 11:27 AM

It's pretty clear to me that there is at least some minstrel influence, even if this tied into a pre-existing tradition of disguise.

Frankly it's cringe-worthy that people still think it is fine to black-up.

Every time a story like this blows up, it does enormous damage to the public perception of Morris, and folk traditions in general.

Border Morris was revived in the early 70s anyway- so stop pretending you are part of some unchangeable tradition- it's pathetic!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 11:29 AM

Why settle for Black face.. ???

Why not start a new tradition of morris face painting inspired by and as tribute to
designs for First World War Dazzle Ships !!!???


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 11:34 AM

I draw your attention to the Waltham 'Black Act' 1723
This Act of Parliament which proscribed the disguising by blacking the face, on pain of death. The 'Waltham Black Act', was fully entitled;

'An Act for the more effectual punishing wicked and evil disposed Persons going armed in Disguise, and doing Injuries and Violences to the Persons and Properties of His Majesty's Subjects, and for the more speedy bringing the Offenders to Justice.'

This act was so punitive that one writer suggests that a study of this one statute is fundamental to the understanding of the use of the Death penalty in the 18th century. Its intention was to proscribe any and all activities where people committed criminal acts whilst disguised especially by the blacking of the face. Hence the name of the act. The 'Black Act' was repealed only in 1827, one supposes that this date might occasion a national celebration and, perhaps, a sudden upsurge in 'face-backing' in recognition of the removal of a draconin legislation? A short extract of the Act is shown here;

'For the preventing which wicked and unlawful practices, be it enacted by the King's most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal and commons, in parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same. That if any
person or persons, from and after the first day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twenty-three, being armed with swords, fire-arms, or other offensive weapons, and having his or their faces blacked, or being otherwise disguised, shall appear in any forest, chase, park, paddock, or grounds inclosed with any wall, pale, or other fence, wherein any deer have been or shall be usually kept, or in any warren or place where hares or conies have been or shall be usually kept, or in any high road, open heath, common or down, or shall unlawfully and wilfully hunt, wound, kill, destroy, or steal any red or fallow deer,'

So it can seen that the tradition of black-face as disguise was well known and actually has been enshrined in British Law.

Now if you start to peruse the newspaper reports of the last two hundred years for incidence of black faced morris dancers you might be surprised to note that they occur, almost invariably after 1830 - wonder why?

Incidentally, the Royal Marines, SAS etc use black face make-up for disguise in night ops. Why aren't the 'right on' PCers calling this practice racist? I suspect its because Morris Dancers are seen as a softer target that the Armed Forces! Enjoy.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 11:38 AM

Mike Yates, could you please provide a link to said photo?

At least we'll then know what we're discussing.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 11:48 AM

Lucky for town shopping centre teenage hoodies
that they didn't live in the 18th Century...

Though more than a few Mail & Express readers might demand to see similar legislation
enacted nowadays...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,#
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 11:50 AM

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2014/10/14/1413283381292/David-Cameron-poses-with--011.jpg


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 11:57 AM

Look for post" a blessing for Lewes " further down the page (don't know how to do links) this shoes the article and photo.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Phil
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 12:24 PM

I've changed my mind about this one. I used to agree with Spleen - to the extent that neo-Border blacking-up draws on historical roots, some of those roots probably do lie in late-C19 minstrelsy rather than more ancient practices of camouflage and guising (I can't look at the Coconutters without thinking of Wilson, Keppel and Betty). Where it doesn't draw on historical roots, on the other hand, there's no reason to use black rather than purple or green.

Then I saw Black Pig.

I don't know if anyone's ever accused Black Pig of being racist on the grounds of blacking-up, but frankly I doubt it. They do black up; they also wear top hats, frock coats, scarves, feathers, badges, veils, goggles - you name it - and perform stick dances with such ferocity that they can finish with one fewer stick than they started with. When we saw them at Bakewell, my (Russian folk-dancing) daughter was so enchanted with them that I seriously looked into whether they had a satellite side near us. (Alas, they don't.)

Now, admittedly this is an argument from lack of evidence - I don't know for certain that Black Pig don't get accused of racism, and I'm open to correction if anyone knows differently. But let's assume I'm right about this, and

a) a Morris side that looks like a steampunk version of Hawkwind (but with black faces) doesn't get accused of racism, but
b) a Morris side that looks like a Morris side (but with black faces) does...

I'm wondering, in other words, if the reason the accusation of racism comes so easily is that the guys Cameron posed with look a bit... old-school. A bit old-timey. A bit fol-de-rol-de-riddle-ol-day. A bit finger-in-ear... The accusation only works so well because it draws on suspicion of people who want to preserve old traditions - and I think that's a suspicion we should be fighting, not accommodating ourselves to. The accusation of racism, in this case, is just a different spin on the bad name that tradition already has.

(Not that I'm immune myself. I ask myself, would I ever black up, and the answer's immediate - "Good God, no! It might be perfectly innocent but it's such a mixed message - why take the risk?" Then I ask myself, would I black up if I had a chance to perform with Black Pig, and the answer is "What, now? Hang on while I have a shave...)


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 12:25 PM

Spleen cringe - how about this chap?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2721716/Mock-battles-tribal-clothing-pig-feast-Inside-celebrations-traditions-one-world-s-decorative-Papua-tribes.html#i-d89b95c307cee62

[I couldn't do a clicky because the link-maker hasn't got a big enough space to put in the whole url for the one picture out of a long article. You can copy and paste it into the search box at the top of the screen.]


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 12:33 PM

That law sounds so extreme it makes me wonder how safe coal miners felt
walking home at night...???


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 12:44 PM

The law seems to be aimed at poachers - coal miners wouldn't have been lurking in the undergrowth armed with weapons.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 12:45 PM

Well my girlfriend who is Yoruba gleefully demanded and posed in pictures with black face and black mask sides at Sweeps this year, put the pictures on facebook, and sent them to her family.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 12:48 PM

Topsie, well... yes..
miners might probably have thought twice about a quick short cut home
through the fields and bushes carrying a pick or shovel on their shoulder....

you'd hope.. anyway...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 12:48 PM

... Morris dancers carrying big sticks and wearing hats filled with pheasant feathers would have looked doubly suspicious


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 01:25 PM

Regarding the issue of using other colours. In the 19thc these lads were right at the bottom of the economic ladder and their antics were more in line with earning a bit of money or festive cheer than celebrating an annual festival, whatever their earlier origins with those further up the economic ladder. They wouldn't have been able to afford to buy greasepaint so in order to effect the essential disguise they went for the cheapest option, carbon. Nowadays we can be any colour we want so I agree with those suggesting and using other colours. More aesthetically pleasing as well IMO, and it shuts up the PC lobby.

As for 'dazzle paint' I thought that had already come in. The pic of the side in the Times certainly looked like some had gone in for this effect.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 01:38 PM

If you think that most Morris Dancers have any understanding or respect for historical evidence go and read their websites.

Ok, we all cherry pick evidence on places like this. Spleen is spot on the major influence - probably the only one - for 'Blackface' is music Hall where white people mocked black people by blacking up.

As Steve says "Nowadays we can be any colour we want so I agree with those suggesting and using other colours" but the dig at the PC lobby is cheap and unworthy.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 02:26 PM

Goes to show the ignorance shown about our traditions, blacking up is historic, not racist.

Racism is quite a tradition in this poxy country of ours as the VERY RECENT proliferation of 'niggering' (to use the not so very-recent traditional term for the practise) in REVIVALIST Morris Circles proves only too well, which goes hand in hand with other mainstream traditional racism now finding popular support even amongst certain of my folkie cohorts. Poxy as I say.

In the UK the only black faces you see at folk events are morris dancers and local security guards, like when we played at the Moseley Folk Festival a few years back and I actually felt moved to apologise to the chap on the backstage door as a bunch of blacked-up neo-pagan morris-dancers (or whatever the fuck they were meant to be) capered past and he looked on with understandable alarm. Depressed was not the word.

Ignorance about our Traditions, huh? Well, my England is multi-cultural - the only ones that bother me are racial diversity and respect of same; anything else is anathema, so - no room for blacked up morris-dancers & their idiot apologists for whom ignorance has become quite a tradition in itself.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 02:41 PM

Even this American Morris Side has figured out how to stay true to their tradition
without risking being racially offensive...

USA MORRIS


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 03:01 PM

Having read some of the comments above, I'm amazed! The 'minstral' is something completely different, and I totally agree that it has no place in today's society, but are those that object to black faced morris dancers really too dim to see the bigger picture, or can you not see the tatter jackets, the decorated top hats, the bells, the sticks, black is just a colour, and how any intelligent person could interpret someone in morris kit as some kind of racist display is completely beyond me!

We are also talking here about traditions that pre-date our multi cultural society, and we should be as fiercly proud of our traditions as those others from different roots that make up that multi cultural society.

Whilst I'm at it, there is no evidence to link morris with paganism, that is indeed a modern phenomena, there are however, records of parish churches giving the village side allowances to buy bells, there is a stained glass window (not a new one) in a church not far from me, and even the horns at Abbotts Bromley have historically been kept in the parish church between dances!

John


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 03:05 PM

Guardian: david-cameron-risks-row-posing-blacked-up-morris-dancers


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: bubblyrat
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 03:22 PM

I have often seen films,documentaries etc ,about Australian Aborigines in which they have very WHITE yes WHITE face paint on ; are THEY "racist" too ?? Probably not , and I don't give a SHIT anyway, Mr Reynard , and nor should you !!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 03:32 PM

there is no evidence to link morris with paganism

The Paganism is as much a recent invention as the 'Tradition'. We're living in the fecking space-age. Contemporise, man! Contemporise!

History? WHY they did it is NOT IMPORTANT, fact is DOING IT THESE DAYS is just bollox headed idiocy.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 03:33 PM

I have just been doing images searches for Border Morris dancers and Minstrel show performers. Do people really think that they are similar ?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 03:50 PM

Anon guest, exactly the point I was making, a morris side blacking up is in no way 'niggering' as Jack suggests, although judging by his most recent post, he's one of those who is not bright enough to see that bigger picture!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 04:50 PM

Paul will be able to put me right as always on this one, but indeed there is strong evidence to show that 'blacking up' is in some dance traditions at least, related to Minstrels from the early 19th century.

The blacking up by stage performers can be traced back at least to 1800 if not further. In troupe formation this came from America in c1840. All of the pictures I have seen of morris dancers prior to that do not show any disguise or colouring, but I could have just missed them.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 04:57 PM

Local reports around our area suggest that Micklemass was the hiring time for farm labours,after Christmas they where skint so to make money they cavorted ie danced to boost their funds with black faces so they could not be identified by their boss and accused of begging that could mean loosing their house and income. True or not I do not know you can decide


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 05:11 PM

I'm sure that will be right GUEST. Other forms of disguise were wearing masks that covered the face. In some cases the disguise was to give an air of mystery, to make local lads look more exotic if they couldn't be identified, in some cases to make them look frightening/threatening. It may well be that the links to the Minstrels where they exist were an add on, i.e., the blacking up preceded the Minstrel boom, but was utilised when it happened, just as the mummers teams incorporated more contemporary characters as time went on.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 05:13 PM

Whilst I don't doubt that a lot of this went on around Michaelmas surely the universal hiring time was Martinmas (November). Where is 'our area'?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Selby
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 05:26 PM

Sorry Steve you are of course right on the time of year In our area Selby. Although there is Paul Davenports picture that trashes the argument possibly perhaps maybe
Keith


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 05:54 PM

Just picked up some information from a discussion of this topic elsewhere, and you are correct Steve, that there is a school of thought that blacking up was inspired by the popularity of the minstrel shows. I'm far more inclined to the disguise theory, particularly when you consider that the minstrels were a 'formal' staged show, and the morris or molly dancers would have used soot from the chimney.

However you look at it, I still don't understand why any self respecting morris side would want to pose with Cameron, even if they are in disguise!

John


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 06:53 PM

I agree that anyone who can black up their face is also capable of painting it blue or green. I'm asking why we - or people in general - worry about blackface, why we don't give it the benefit of the doubt.

The reason I mentioned Black Pig is that I don't think anyone would look at that photo and think "oo-er, might be a bit racist" - the thought just wouldn't arise. The face paint looks weird, but so does everything else about them.

By contrast, if you combine black face-paint with a more conventional border Morris get-up (and, perhaps, a higher average age), those suspicions seem appropriate. Conventional Morris sides start out under suspicion & need to prove they're not racist. But why is this, and should we accept it?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 07:00 PM

Yes, being objective, the black face makeup in the Cameron photo does look very 'good';
in the sense of a disconcerting other worldly theatrical masked persona.

I like the look of it.

But, in a modern Britain of over-reactive social media
and oportunistic scandal & confrontation driven news journalism agendas;
is it really worth it for a bunch of old time dance hobbyists,
braving all the inevitable disdain and aggro to be expected from 'blacking up' in public ???

Even if it is not the concious intention, 'blacking up' is very likely to be widely received
and perceived as an act of overt rectionary provocation.

Yeah, let them carry on fighting for their right to freedom of cultural expresion.
Yeah, why not...

Why should morris be forced to make concessions to us hairbrained lefty 'PC brigade'.

Yeah let them be as stubborn as they like.
They are all grown ups,
they can accept total responsibility for how they portray themeslves in full public view
to a baffled multicultural populace.

It's not as though traditional British folk customs are being at all
appropriated as an inspirational rallying cause for the E*L & B*P....??????


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 09:03 PM

Part of not finding it earlier is because you're looking in the wrong place: Grimaldi blacked up, as did the guy playing Othello, the Moor of Venice. Will Kemp, from the same company, was renowned as a morrisman, and may have had a hand in the build of the play (1601-3), although he was dead by the time it was staged in late 1603. We know that the early morris came from these same Court circles at the same time, making the proximity of theme more than tempting.

It's only once morris leaves the stage in the Restoration that you'll find blackface as a tradition. By that time the slave trade was well established, and so it's also part of a social discrimination: what might originally have been a mostly ignorant attempt at cultural integration had by then become somewhat derogatory. And so it remained.

The question of blackface comes from an entirely different and utterly racist origin, the minstrel tradition of the US. Extending it into the folk domain is probably excessive, as there is no common ground: the folk world is not derogating or being in any way abusive of people of African descent. IF there were tunes which did so, then there would be a case. However, the race card is being overplayed of late to the extent where it is actually being used in reverse racism, as a way of making it impossible to criticise people of that ethnicity (Manchester child abuse police problems being a case in point). In practice, it is simply racism in reverse, colour on white, and that we should no more tolerate than white on anyone else. We're people, folks, and skin colour should make fuck all difference either way.

The answer, then, is not to black up black on black, but as camo, and collect for one of the veterans charities. That makes this untouchable!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 04:14 AM

although judging by his most recent post, he's one of those who is not bright enough to see that bigger picture!

Personal insults aside, Bounty Hound - the Bigger Picture of the UK is a vast and diverse interconnecting society of some 64 Million souls of a multiplicity of ethnicities and cultures each engaged in the pursuit of personal & forward thinking cultural happiness as is their right and privilege as human individuals. Within this, somewhere, there is a tiny cult of self-serving attention seeking Folk Dancing Hobbyists who feel that by blacking up their faces they are doing something Historic and Traditional when, in reality, the History of their Tradition goes back to a bunch of revivalists fired up by the Folk Zeitgeist of the 60s & 70s using God alone knows what sort of fakelore to justify the unthinkable.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 04:24 AM

The answer, then, is not to black up black on black, but as camo, and collect for one of the veterans charities. That makes this untouchable!

Veteran supporters might regard it as taking the mickey and anti war campaigners could interpret it as glorying war.
What ever you do someone will read it as offensive if it suits them.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 04:25 AM

When you consider the huge part minstrelsy played popular culture throughout a large part of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it is difficult to conclude it cannot have had some influence on morris, and it certainly contributed some tunes. My own view is that it probably reinforced an existing tradition of blacking up, but blacking up does not itself come from minstrelsy.

The point is that there are other reasons for blacking up besides imitating, let alone derogating, black people. There is nothing else in morris which appears to have any other connection with black culture or gives any suggestion of imitating or derogating it. Many black people have no difficulty recognising that blacked-up morris is not about them. If some take offence, the answer is to explain it, not change it.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 04:32 AM

Explain what exactly? The very act of deliberately blacking up is racist. Anything else is just an excuse. Remember - you guys only started doing this is the heady days of the 60s and 70s.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 04:50 AM

Not necessarily, Jack There are other longstanding traditions being overlooked, which, it could be urged, are equally relevant and which you are ignoring.

The various superstitions concerning chimney sweeps, for example, are being forgotten, it seems to me. A black-faced sweep -- so from his work, no connection whatever to race -- has long been regarded as a bringer of good luck -- ("Good luck omen:- In Great Britain it is considered lucky for a bride to see a chimney sweep on her wedding day" -- Wikipedia).

Is there not, arguably, more connection to this tradition, in the black-face morrismen & guisers, than to US-derived blackface minstrelsy?

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 04:53 AM

So what about the question posed earlier then Jack, are Aboriginal dancers with white faces racist, or is that just their tradition?

The blacked up morris dancer is in no way attempting to be insulting to black people, as I said before look at the bigger picture, and then tell me that a morris dancer is attempting to imitate someone of a different ethnic origin. Painting faces is simply part of the kit!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 04:54 AM

... particularly [look again at that pic of Cameron & the dancers] as some do not black up completely, but over only part of the face. If they were aiming for a racist 'ho-ho Sambo'n'Rastus' image, they would black up completely, with those contrasting exaggerated white lips & all, surely? Which they don't.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 05:01 AM

Jack is one of several, it seems to me, who are determined to identify racism as endemic & epidemic in all sorts of innocent activities and attitudes.

Counter-productive!

Remember the moral of one of Thurber's Fables For Our Time -- "You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward".

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 05:29 AM

I think there is some serious missing of the point going on here.

First of all, let's get over this irrelevant crap about "the PC brigade" - that's a right wing media invention to smear anyone with progressive politics deemed to have stepped out of line. It's a dubious tradition with its own history of fakelore and invented scandals.

Let's also get over this 'people will always find something to be offended by' trope, too. I'm not offended by blackface morris. I just think it's a little sad and pathetic. It reminds me of the tired jingoism of UKIP.

I also think Paul Davenport's cheap shot about morris been an easy target compared with the military is indicative of the kind of flawed thinking on display. Don't pretend you can't see the difference between the two examples? Likewise, the people who compare aboriginal Australian rituals to blacked up morris dance. Once Australia's apartheid system and historical racist campaign against indigenous Australians has ended and there is true equality between the races over there, come back and discuss the matter, eh? Racism always has a power dynamic.

It really doesn't matter whether the origins of blackface morris are in disguise when begging, Moorish/Spanish dancing, minstrelry or lampooning tribal dances. What does matter is that we live here and now, when the main association of blackface entertainment is with minstelry, which is beyond dispute a racist tradition. Anyone, regardless of their own views on race, who blacks up will be doing so in the full knowledge of this key cultural context unless they've spent their entire life deep in a hole in the ground. It's entirely up to the morris sides concerned whether they do it, but if they do so, accusations that they are echoing a racist tradition will come their way, whether they like it or not. particularly as it's largely a reflection of a fakelore tradition reinvented as part of the late twentieth century folk revival.

As for Black Pig, I don't think their modern take on morris would be in any way compromised by painting their faces other colours. They simply choose not to.

This whole thing reminds me of people who insist 'gay' simply means 'happy'. We live in an age now where Bellowhead and the Unthanks are probably the best selling purveyors of traditional folk. Not blacking up is no more of a move away from "the" tradition than them not sounding anything like Walter Pardon or May Bradley is.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 05:38 AM

A black-faced sweep -- so from his work, no connection whatever to race -- has long been regarded as a bringer of good luck -

I placed especial emphasis on deliberately blacking-up, Michael. The last coalman we had was when we lived a few years back in a village in rural country Durham; I'd known this guy for four years and didn't recognise him one night I saw him washed and clean in the pub. I've said here before that whilst there are many & various historical, traditional, folkloric & occupational precedents for blacking up, my argument is that to do so in a Modern Context for Purposes of Revival and Recreation is just plain wrong.

Interesting that our chimney sweep at that time supplemented his dwindling income by doing weddings as well. Blacked-up, of course, as one expects a chimney-sweep to be black because of his trade, not because it is a matter of folklore or custom, which is less clear. So - even there might well be non-racist reasons for the village morris-dancers of old blacking-up of old (as I allow there might be) to do so in today's society, at some remove culturally & historically from the context in which practises traditionally took place, is a racist act regardless.

*   

So what about the question posed earlier then Jack, are Aboriginal dancers with white faces racist, or is that just their tradition?

Your precious custom only dates from the 60s and 70s - and even then takes a while to catch-on in morris fashion. I remember a Morris Ring meeting in Durham around 1985 or so and only one side (the admittedly astonishing Silurians) were blacked-up. Now everywhere you look you see black-faced dancers in a variety of modern styles & tastes. How can you compare such slap-dash make-it-up-as-you-go-along revivalism of a few hearty middle-class hobbyists to the aeons old culture of a severely oppressed & harshly victimised depressed ethnic minority whose only pride comes from the vestiges of their living culture?

The men smear their faces and bodies with white clay and move onto the sand in a large group, carrying ceremonial spears. They stand before a specially constructed cloth-walled tent in which the body lies. Older men provide the music—a rhythmic crack of clapsticks, a trilling chant, the thrumming drone of the didgeridoo. Then the dancers, like the ancestral beings of the Dreamtime, seem to shift shape before my eyes, contorting their bodies, elongating their necks, stomping their feet and thrusting spears, all moving together, a many-legged creature, sand flying, sweat streaming.

Each dance, mimicking an animal or a natural event, is short and intense. There's the white seagull dance, the octopus dance, the north wind dance, the cockatoo dance. Some are performed only by women. The dances last all day, and another, and another—the funeral carries on for ten days—as people stream in from communities across the bush to pay respect, to dance some more, to set the soul on its journey with the grandest possible send-off.


(from HERE

Where, I wonder, is the comparison?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 05:55 AM

We had a black American staying with us at a folk festival,she was not offended by black face Morris. We explained there where many theories and pick the one that suited, she thought it highly amusing that if she danced she could paint her face white and no one would know it was her. I suspect all the people contribute here are white and need to get a life there are more important things out there other than Morris men blacking up it is not racist apart from those that want to make it.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Re-enactor,
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 06:04 AM

I find it astonishing that so many Mudcatters cannot accept that its perfectly possible to COPY something without MOCKING it.
I take part in re-enactments of Napoleonic era battles, and as such I wear the appropriate uniforms and affect as far as I can the speech and mannerisms of the period, Am I mocking soldiers of the Era ?,
I also formerly played in a country and western style band, and when on stage I wore Stetson, jeans, checked or fancy shirts and cowboy boots, and tried to use an American Accent when singing, am I mocking American Cowboys ?? certainly in neither case was I trying to mock or insult anyone.
I don't find it beyond possibility that 19th century white performers seeing the popularity of the black colleagues on the vaudeville circuit decided to try and emulate their success, and adopted black make up as part of the act, I don't think we can automatically assume Evil intent in this. !!
By the same token Morris dancers of that period in some areas may have built on an already existing tradition of disguise in order to appeal to a wider audience by incorporating elements of the then popular minstrel acts in their performance. The Photo of the American team in there "Kiss" style outfits shows this still happening today.( Or are they Mocking Kiss !!!)


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 06:20 AM

"The thing I fail to understand is why any self respecting morris side would want to be photographed posing with Cameron!"

"All I can say is the dancers in question can't be very good trade unionists."

"I still don't understand why any self respecting morris side would want to pose with Cameron, even if they are in disguise!"


Whatever the origins of the Morris (disputed, as we know), the reality, whether you like it or not, is that Morris dancing is now a largely middle-class pursuit. Many dancers are not left-wing activists or even left-wing sympathisers. There is no reason for the people quoted above to expect them to agree unquestioningly with the politics of the twentieth-century working class, or of agricultural labourers in previous centuries.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery.
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 06:29 AM

I am a founder member of a black face Border morris Team, The Dartford Motley, later Motley Morris, although I have long retired from dancing.
We were one of the earliest teams to take up the style, certainly in the South East, largely under the influence of John Kirkpatricks Shropshire Bedlams.
During our early years we regularly danced around South London, and North Kent areas with quite a sizeable,Black population, to the best of my recollection we never experienced any hostility from these people, amusement sometimes, and Much Ribald jocularity. The hostility towards black faces seems to have come about in fairly recent times and as far as I can see seems to emanate, in the main not from black people themselves, but by a section of the white population who chose to speak on others behalf, and seem to see affront in quite unintentional areas, and are determined to pin the racist label on everything they see around them, wether or not there is any intent to insult or hurt.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 06:35 AM

So Jack, it's ok for a chimney sweep to DELIBERATELY black up, as it's what everyone expects! but despite the fact that border dancers and molly dancers in East Anglia have been doing so for the last two centuries, that's not!

The comparison with Aboriginal dancers is obvious, they paint their faces in a colour different to their natural colour, and as they live in the same world as us, and do it deliberately, so by your definition, it must be a racist act.

Tell me precisely how a morris man, dressing up in a tatter jacket, putting heavy boots and bell pads on, wearing a hat decorated with flowers and feathers, and painiting their face is in ANY WAY demeaning to someone of a different ethnic origin or skin colour? As I said, the face paint is just part of the kit! Perhaps putting feathers in their hat is also indicative of them having issues with pheasants!

As Guest just said, 'Morris men blacking up it is not racist apart from those that want to make it' and for some unknown reason, you obviously do!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,as at 14 Oct 14 - 03:33 PM
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 06:45 AM

What 'MGM Lion' pointed out about the incomplete blacking i what an image search shows.

I think it is derogatory, in a "does he take sugar" sort of way, to attempt to speak for the people who it is thought might be offended.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 06:53 AM

"The very act of deliberately blacking up is racist"

Nonsense. It is being done for entirely different purposes. That it may be seen as racist by some is another matter.

The increase in blacked-up morris coincides with the revival of the traditions which used it. Prior to the 1970s 'morris' almost invariably meant Cotswold, where there was no tradition of blacking up. The 1970s saw the revival of Border and Molly. Now you may criticise this as 'fake', and much of it has been made up, but as far as possible the original revivalists took as much as was known from traditional sources, including the costumes and the practice of blacking up.

As Henry Piper points out, this was uncontroversial until fairly recently (long after minstrel blackface or actors blacking up to play Othello became unacceptable). Perhaps this reflects the proliferation of Border sides. It seems to provoke far more of a reaction from white people taking offence on black people's behalf than it does from black people themselves.

If morris were racist, then using a different colour face paint would not disguise it. Would anyone have been fooled by the Blue and White Minstrels?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 06:53 AM

Sleen and Jack have said it all in more than a little detail. As most people don't read earlier posts once the get past about 20 we are faced (!) with going around and around this subject again and again.

1. The evidence for the roots of 'Blackface' are in Minstrelsey wich was racist.

2. Most Border sides make up the dances, the kit, the tunes and play instruments never heard in Morris - great drama has been created - please stop blacking up.

3. Who is offended - almost no one but then who knows or cares about Morris anyway.

4. Most black people probably know as much about Morris as the rest of the population but make no mistake many, many black people know much, much more about the history of racism then the rest of the population. Some are uncomfortable and some are offended.

5. So we have dance sides going out with the intention of entertaining the general public and furthering some strange understanding of an English Tradition and they don't care if they offend some people.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 06:57 AM

Jack, Spleen, when someone as racially aware as Will Straw defends them, and all you have is the nonsense argument of a wholly fictious parallel with something which has been rectified, then you've lost, I'm afraid. Your case was answered long since, and with no other data to refresh it, then you're simply being contentious.

Taken more widely, the use of "racism" as a broad-brush get-out-of-jail-free card is as much racist as the behaviour it is meant to stop (as seen in the Manchester child abuse cases, I repeat). Racism remains a serious and utterly disgusting problem, and discrediting a major tool against it in this way is to nobody's benefit. You argue it was an invention of the 1960s/70s, the record shows it is far older.

Keep the charge for the things which really are racist, please.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Reynard
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 07:03 AM

I'd just like to make an appeal to Border morris dancers. You are dancing a revived version of a tradition, piece together from various bits of evidence, and being creative with the music and dances. Is it really *that* important for you to black-up? Is there no other more creative way you can honour the tradition of disguise? Do you really not "give a shit" that many people will be repelled from the tradition you are trying to promote? Is it worth having to repeat the rather shaky justifications about disguise etc. to counter the assumption that you are being racist?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 07:04 AM

Sleen and Jack have said it all in more than a little detail. As most people don't read earlier posts once the get past about 20 we are faced (!) with going around and around this subject again and again.

1. The evidence for the roots of 'Blackface' are in Minstrelsey wich was racist.

2. Most Border sides make up the dances, the kit, the tunes and play instruments never heard in Morris - great drama has been created - please stop blacking up.

3. Who is offended - almost no one but then who knows or cares about Morris anyway.

4. Most black people probably know as much about Morris as the rest of the population but make no mistake many, many black people know much, much more about the history of racism then the rest of the population. Some are uncomfortable and some are offended.

5. So we have dance sides going out with the intention of entertaining the general public and furthering some strange understanding of an English Tradition and they don't care if they offend some people.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 07:21 AM

A Proud Tradition? Nope! Looks like Will Straw's fallen prey to the same bollox notions of history & tradition as everyone else who sees no harm in this noxious practise yet feels the need to apologise for it. Regardless of HISTORY, and regardless of TRADITION (whatever THAT might be!) blacked-up morris is backwards reactive hobbyism with no more relevance to the vibrant culture of the UK than model railways have to our transport system. It's quirky, contrived and eccentric - a folksy pastime contrived in the 1960s from a long dead (and rightly so) bucolic custom carried out by less enlightened individuals in less enlightened times.

*

Incidentally, the Royal Marines, SAS etc use black face make-up for disguise in night ops. Why aren't the 'right on' PCers calling this practice racist? I suspect its because Morris Dancers are seen as a softer target that the Armed Forces! Enjoy.

That has to be the worst, Paul.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 07:32 AM

1. The evidence for the roots of 'Blackface' are in Minstrelsey wich was racist.
The counter evidence, possibly more compelling, when you consider the whole nature of morris is that it was a means of disguise, as recorded in the 18th century, and not just border morris, but molly dancers in East Anglia.

2. Most Border sides make up the dances, the kit, the tunes and play instruments never heard in Morris - great drama has been created - please stop blacking up.
There are only a few recorded dances from the borders, and morris sides creating their own is part of the living tradition, and as pointed out before, painting faces is merely part of the kit.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 07:32 AM

If Jeremy Clarkson decided to become a morris dancer ..........????????


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 07:33 AM

1. The evidence for the roots of 'Blackface' are in Minstrelsey wich was racist.
Les,
Have you forgotten the last post on this topic?
You conceded then, after reading the wikapedia article on border morris,that blacking up was much older than the minstrel shows.
You agreed that the article was inconclusive regarding the amount of influence the minstrel shows had on the matter.
The evidence you quote as far as I can see is your opinion rather than fact.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 07:37 AM

On a thread about morris sides blacking up, is it not a little disingenuous to defend the practice by suggesting that we shouldn't disagree with it whilst there are more serious and overt manifestations of racism out there? "Keep your powder dry, lads" is usually code for "we don't want to have to think about this one". Of course horrorshows like the rise of UKIP and the increase in media fuelled muslim-bashing are far more pressing, but that's for a seperate thread. This is a discussion of a particular "folkloric" practice on a folk forum. You ok with that?

I also cannot emphasise enough that my objection to modern blackface minstrelry morris is not about "being offended" (I'm not, as I said above) and certainly not about "being offended on behalf of black people" - I'm not in the business of patronising people who can speak for themselves should they want to, though there are far bigger fish to fry for this practice to be high on anyone's agenda.

I don't particularly want my cultural heritage represented by dubious customs that should have long been consigned to the dustbin of history - and in fact were, until the re-enactors got their hands on them. White people blacking up to entertain in the 21st century cannot be divorced from the racist legacy of minstrelry even if the people who do it protest vociforously that that is not what they mean. For me, it is simply a case of not in my name. There are plenty of traditional pursuits that have changed beyond recognition or been abandoned to the sea of barbarism where they belong - anyone fancy making the case for bringing back badger baiting, bear baiting, dog fighting, hare coursing, ducking witches and so on because they are (arguably more so than blackfaced morris) part of our tradition? As none of us are impoverished agricultural labourers hiding our identities from the squire when we go begging (if you accept that this is the only historic reason for blacking up and ignore the other factors), there is no reason not to adapt the tradition for the 21st century as morris dancers have clearly done for many other aspects of their hobby.

But I suspect a bunch of blacked-up whiteys who are happy to pose with Cameron wouldn't give a toss about this anyway...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 07:37 AM

You didn't answer my question Jack!

'Tell me precisely how a morris man, dressing up in a tatter jacket, putting heavy boots and bell pads on, wearing a hat decorated with flowers and feathers, and painiting their face is in ANY WAY demeaning to someone of a different ethnic origin or skin colour? As I said, the face paint is just part of the kit! Perhaps putting feathers in their hat is also indicative of them having issues with pheasants!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 07:46 AM

Pheasants have to die to decorate those hats ...

;-)


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 07:53 AM

"border dancers and molly dancers in East Anglia have been doing so for the last two centuries"

No, they haven't. The dancing died out and has been "revived" or more likely made up and labeled as the same thing.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery.
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 07:53 AM

Les.
To avoid more "Going around and around" let me summarise my reasons for disagreeing with a lot, (though not all off your Numbered comments)
1).The evidence for the "Roots" of Black faces lying with Minstrelsy, is by no means conclusive, on the contrary there is considerable evidence that blackened faces have been used as a disguise in many other seasonal rituals, prior to the popularity of minstrelsy, the assertion that it is always racist is also shaky, it may appear so to modern sensibilities, but as an above poster says, it may also be seen as a way of white performers cashing in on the success and popularity of black artists, without necessarily any deliberate intention to demean or insult them, it would be interesting to see how black performers were viewed by the public and white colleagues. From what I've read of music hall history, there were quite a few black performers and in the main they seem to have been very popular.

2)....unfortunately true in the main, although the costumes historically worn did seem to feature an element of fancy dress and did include tatters worn on the jackets or shirts, in Motley Morris ALL our original dances were based on known dances or constructed from collected fragments, and our instruments were, concertinas, melodeons, and fiddles, all instruments found in mainstream Morris. the tunes we used were the ones associated with the collected information, or popular tunes from the Victorian period.

3/4 you said it, almost no one is offended, and in the main those offended seem to be white people taking offence on behalf of black people, certainly many black people will have experienced racism in some form, but I would think that the majority would be more concerned about Real discrimination in Housing, employment and similar real-life issues than worrying about a few people wearing make up and cavorting around outside a pub a few times a year.

5, don't quite understand your point here Les, I don't believe that its a case of not caring if people are offended, and I believe that the actual numbers offended are smaller than you might imagine. Whether we like it or not,and for whatever historical reasons, Border Morris WAS danced in the main with black faces, and if we are going to present an accurate picture of the tradition/style call it what you will we should present it "warts and all" Explaining if necessary to audiences the historical setting in which it existed.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 08:15 AM

Surely it just boils down to a simple basic premise.

If YOU stubbornly insist on blacking up in public,
in an era and social climate where a significant proportion of our populace
will automatically suspect you are likely to be making a provocative racist statement,
then YOU must take full responsibility, and accept the consequences.

Can't be simpler than that can it ???

So carry on 'blacking up' if it's that important to you.....


Note: "Carry on Blacking Up" 1975

Sid and Ken and all rest of the loveable saucy crew
play a village morris dance team who come a cropper
when the annual 'blacking up' dance fete and beauty contest
clashes with a bullying farm land owner
spitefully hiring one of his fields to a Reggae pop festival.

Oh well... we can dream...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 08:21 AM

Thanks very much for a thoughtful and reasoned reply Henry.

1).The evidence for the "Roots" of Black faces lying with Minstrelsy, is by no means conclusive, - sorry it is - I have posted the evidence before but people generally just ignore it.

Instruments? Saxophones I have seen in Morris Bands - Blackface is claimed to have it's roots 16 C 17C 18C - free reads are much later. I have no problem with any of that but if people cherry pick which bits of history they are following the need to understand history and evidence.

As for who is offended to be clear almost nobody knows - isn't that the truth? But some Black People are - not many but yes some are.

"and I believe that the actual numbers offended are smaller than you might imagine" You can believe and imagine what you like - that's not evidence.

What in the microscopic world of Border Morris stopping people from just using other colours?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 08:23 AM

Tell me precisely how a morris man, dressing up in a tatter jacket, putting heavy boots and bell pads on, wearing a hat decorated with flowers and feathers, and painiting their face is in ANY WAY demeaning to someone of a different ethnic origin or skin colour? As I said, the face paint is just part of the kit! Perhaps putting feathers in their hat is also indicative of them having issues with pheasants!

I would have thought it was self-evident, BH.

Ultimately it's all about individuality, being what you are, being proud of what you are and living to engender a sense of pride in others and being proud of them too. Soon as you have to invent an excuse to black-up your face, you're entering the murky world of fakelore, in which all sorts of justifications are made as why some middle-class middle-aged morris person would want to black up their faces, none of which is of any immediate cultural or traditional relevance to that individual - unlike a chimney sweep, a coalman or a member of the SAS on night patrol, all of whom have clear, obvious and self-evidently non-racist reasons for having a black face. Just as your Aboriginal tribes-person has for painting their faces with white clay (though even if it was for racial reasons I'd think they more than justified in doing so).

The blacked-up morris person has none of these, all they have is a handy list of folksy excuses none of which are in any way relevant to their immediate situation which is, after all, simply one of a civilised 21st human being feeling somehow compelled to black up their face for reasons, ultimately, best known to themselves. Given that we live in an age of hieghtened sensitivity to issues of race and ethnicity in a country where these things matter a good deal, such behaviour is both suspect and puzzling. Historical and Traditional reasons prove utterly bogus; the reasons that emerge are invariable a reaction to Political Correctness Gone Mad which is somehow perceived as a threat to some wholly fictitious folk heritage (re-modelled circa 1975) which must be protected at all costs least we somehow lose our all-important national pride.

Still, never mind, eh, chaps? Under UKIP I dare say such practises will be compulsory.

Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 08:34 AM

"Pheasants have to die to decorate those hats ..."

I doubt if anyone ever killed a pheasant just to get the feathers. Pheasants may be killed and then eaten, but you don't eat the feathers, they are merely removed before cooking the bird. Also, birds naturally moult and shed feathers, so they can be obtained without any killing involved.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,as at 14 Oct 14 - 03:33 PM
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 08:49 AM

In the multicultural UK is seems to be generally accepted that within certain bounds of decency we can appear in public dressed and with our bodies decorated as we choose. This sometimes involves tolerating things that we are, reasonably or not, uncomfortable about.

If no-one can show that blacked up dancers are intending to cause offence then not letting them be could be seen as the thin end of a wedge.

Blacking of hands would concern me.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 08:52 AM

Pheasants have to die to be eaten.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 09:01 AM

At election time, the young skinheads in the hostel flats on our street
prominently displayed B*P posters in their windows,
in direct veiw of the young black family opposite.

This is their right to freedom of political expression.

I daresay these young skins would be amongst the first to volunter
to march in protest and support
for the traditional rights of morris teams to wear black faces...???


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 09:06 AM

I accept that no pheasants are intentionally harmed in the creation of a morris-person's kit; I doubt they have that close a relationship with their ecology, heritage or environment. This is faux culture as random road-kill; one would hope they'd have more respect for this once noble & beautiful bird than to use its plumage in their folksy fancy dress ball.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 09:18 AM

'I would have thought it was self-evident, BH'

Nope, nothing self-evident, or anything in your post that actually answers the question Jack.

Just to remind you, as you state clearly that a blacked up morris dancer is racist, I asked you to explain precisely why a morris man in full kit, with a painted face is in any way demeaning to someone of a different ethnic origin or skin colour?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 09:20 AM

I was more thinking that wearing the feathers could be regarded as supporting a situation where large numbers of the birds are bred and released to become road kill so that rich folks can kill them for fun.

Could be regarded by some people, that is.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 09:32 AM

I think Jack is being deliberately provocative when he refers to 'blackface' morris. 'Blackface' is a particular form of blacking up which is intended to perpetuate racial stereotypes and is typified by minstrelsy. I've never seen a morris side blacked up in a style which resembles blackface or which perpetuates a racial stereotype (unless that stereotype is of slightly overweight white men with beards).

Since it is more than 35 years since the Black and White Minstrel show was last broadcast, and it was a bizarre anachronism even then, surely when seeing someone blacked up today the association should be with morris, rather than minstrelsy?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 09:40 AM

If it's about reviving and celebrating age old traditions,
why not consider ditching the tatty costumes and 'black up',
and instead opt for more authentic full on ferocious woad decorated naked bodies.

Now that'd be a morris side for the 21st century......


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 09:42 AM

"large numbers of the birds are bred and released to become road kill so that rich folks can kill them for fun"

They become "road kill" when they are hit and killed by vehicles on a road. Killing them once they are dead wouldn't really be much "fun".

Yes, pheasants are bred and released for rich people to shoot at, but it is still quite possible to find feathers without any deliberate killing involved (some may die of natural causes, and some will be killed by foxes, who may or may not then eat them, but who also don't usually eat the feathers).


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,going on about pheasants
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 09:44 AM

The analogy is that if someone has a "bee in their bonnet" about something (blood sports or minstrelsy) they can choose to pick on an innocent part of someone's "kit" and make a fuss about it whether there is a connection or not.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,going on about pheasants
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 09:49 AM

Crossed. There, you see. I bet that's a post from an innocent pheasant feather wearer being forced to get all defensive.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 09:52 AM

1).The evidence for the "Roots" of Black faces lying with Minstrelsy, is by no means conclusive, - sorry it is - I have posted the evidence before but people generally just ignore it.
Les,
Would that be the article in the E D and S magazine you are refering to,the one you quote in the Folklore:border morris post early in September?
The tone of the article is clearly dismissive and full of contempt,written it would appear by some one with little time for border morris.
To save myself the trouble of repeating the thread, I suggest any one interested read the thread and draw their own conclusions on your statement quoted at the top of this post


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery.
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 09:52 AM

This Topic is obviously very Heartfelt by several people, who no doubt will continue to argue their points if view on both sides.
As I mentioned earlier I have long ago retired from Dancing, so the topic is of less important too me than it once, I still maintain that whilst blacking up may in modern times and with our modern sensibilities be considered offensive by some, it was, a 19th century development of an already existing tradition, and that development was undoubtedly influenced by the popularity of minstrel troupes. At the time it was not considered offensive, but times and sensibilities change, and those who continue to black up in the interest of historical accuracy should make every effort to explain to audiences the social and historic context in which these dances were done.I think we have to acknowledge our past, Faults and all, and whether we like it or not this is how the dances were done, and I do believe that as well as developing and expanding a tradition we should always keep in mind its origin and development. I shall now leave this discussion to others !!.

Incidentally one of the reasons I gave up dancing, was what I observed as the poor dancing standards of some teams. Little attempt to keep within the constraints of what WAS known of this meagre tradition, such as "over the Top" and ever more ridiculous costumes huge bands of inappropriate musical instruments, and an insistence on foisting rubbish about "Pagan Fertility Rites" on the audience, So I I'm Certainly with Les on that.
Regards to all Henry.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 09:53 AM

Guest 15 Oct 09:52 is me


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 10:06 AM

...........Oh !   and the shrieking and Yelling,!!!!
Bye,


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 10:12 AM

From: Ruth Archer - PM
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 04:36 PM
Tam:

I have posted this previously on Mudcat, but it was somtome before you joined. You might be interested:
'I'm quoting from an article written by Derek Schofield in English Dance and Song magazine, summer 2005:

"Forty years ago, the only English traditional, or revival, dance group who blacked up were the Britania Coco-nut Dancers from Bacup."

"There are references to people blacking up as a form of disguise in popular custom, although in Heaney and Forrest's book 'Annals of Early Morris', there is only one reference to black-faced morris dancers in the period they studied (up to 1750), and that is from the mid-sixteenth century."

The article goes on to discuss how black-faced minstrelsy took hold in America from the early 19th century, and eventually made its way to Britain and enjoyed huge popularity here by the turn of the 20th century: "no village concert was complete without a few minstrel songs."

The piece goes on to discuss the incorporation of blacking up into "traditional" events: "There would seem to be little doubt that the black faces of the traditional morris dance groups of the Welsh Border counties were at least influenced by minstrelsy. The occasional use of banjoes, bones and tambourines in these morris dances cannot be mere coincidence."

I apologise for the brief and piecemeal nature of these quotes, and for the lack of context (especially to Derek) - sadly the whole article is not available on-line. But I can tell you that it makes a pretty convincing case for the influence of minstrelsy on blacking up.

So then the question is, if blacking up and minstrelsy were once intrinsically linked, does it matter today?'

Derek went on to add in the same thread:

'Having looked into blacking up for the EDS feature that Ruth Archer has kindly quoted from, there is undoubtedly an influence on English folk culture from minstrelsy. Bacup may be one, Padstow mummers may be another, the 20th century traditional Border morris which has been copied by revival sides might be another.
The question is ...has the blacking up transcended its origin and now have a life of its own?
Does this practice offend sectors of our society? (And I don't mean just the black members of our society ... white people might also be offended).
And if so, are we prepared to do anything about it?'


Another quote from the same thread, from Dave Hunt:

'A version of the 'A' part of the tune is also used for the tune known as 'Clee Hill' as collected from Dennis Crowther who is from that area, which is not far from Ludlow in South Shropshire. The tune was used by the morris/molly dancers from Clee Hill area and in 'pre-PC' days was known as 'The niggerin' tune' as the dancers went out with blacked-up faces and called it 'Goin' out a-niggerin' The use of the term molly instead of morris,was common in Shropshire and I have met people who remembers 'Going out molly-dancing' in East Shropshire in the 1930s-40s '

And something else that I said later on in the same thread:

'Finally, a few people have said that it would be interesting to hear from a black person what they feel about all of this. Well, the article from EDS that I quoted earlier interviewed several people about the practice, including a dance caller named Nigel Hogg. This is what he had to say:

"I have watched many different dance groups around the country, and on certain occasions I have seen groups black up to perform. As a mixed race man I do find this tradition offensive because I see it as a parody mocking people of colour. I would imagine that the people who perform these dances are not racists, and on some levels the people involved have not even though about the implications these dances might have to people of colour." '


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 10:28 AM

If no-one can show that blacked up dancers are intending to cause offence then not letting them be could be seen as the thin end of a wedge.

Who said anything about "not letting them" black-up? It's up to them what they do: I just wish they'd see sense and drop the blackface. Not the thin end of the wedge at all - just a suggestion that they consider ditching a wholly unnecessary part of their artificially resuscitated "tradition".

Tell me precisely how a morris man, dressing up in a tatter jacket, putting heavy boots and bell pads on, wearing a hat decorated with flowers and feathers, and painiting their face is in ANY WAY demeaning to someone of a different ethnic origin or skin colour? As I said, the face paint is just part of the kit! Perhaps putting feathers in their hat is also indicative of them having issues with pheasants!

Regardless of the intent, blackface used for entertainment in the 21st Century cannot escape the racist legacy of minstrelry - even when that is not the intention. We can argue this point till we're blue in the face, but we can't get away from the fact that this unneccessary insistance on respecting some dubious tradition will be refracted though the lens of minstrelry. We can't magic that part of our history away - but we can learn from it.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 10:29 AM

Me above


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Reynard
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 10:34 AM

One point I'd like to make is that the ignorance of the general public towards the origins of blacking up in Border morris is actually downplaying the racists connotations. I have seem many non-folkies (including people from ethnic minorities and those I would generally consider to be very "PC")defending the "disguise" or even the "pagan" explanations!

If it was more widely known that traditional practitioners in the early 20thc referred to it as "going n***ering", or that there is strong evidence to suggest a direct link with minstrel shows you can bet there would be a hell of a lot more condemnation. So please no feeling you're hard done by because of the ignorance of the general public.

To be honest I think this is partly generational and the issue will resolve itself naturally in the next few years. As current sides are replaced by a younger generation of dancers I cannot imagine there will be many wanting to continue to black-up (unless it's done as part of a costume in a way that cannot possibly be interpreted as racist).


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 10:42 AM

'I cannot imagine there will be many wanting to continue to black-up (unless it's done as part of a costume in a way that cannot possibly be interpreted as racist)'

IT ALREADY IS!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Henry Piper of ottery.
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 10:56 AM

Apologies , I said I was going to bow out, but Reynards post above has caused me to add one final item.
I agree that if all new Border Morris teams were to leave off the painted faces black or otherwise, it would be more comfortable for everyone, and some of the histories I have read indicate that not all border Morris teams did black up, so its certainly not essential.
Reynard mentions current sides being replaced by a younger generation, but the sad truth is that most of the newer sides are in fact Border Morris Type Sides mostly with black faces, there are fewer and fewer Cotswold sides being Started, whilst the border teams continue to proliferate. With its simpler dance structures and looser more improvised form together with the exhibitionist nature of some teams it does seem to have captured the imagination of a largely younger membership so I fear what Reynard Hopes for will not come to pass.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrockagainstracismer
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 11:06 AM

"You're a racist"
"NO I'm not"
"YES you are"
"no I'm not"
"yes you are"
"no I'm not"
"yes you are"
"no I'm not"
"yes you are"
"no I'm not, in fact you're the racist for insisting that I'm a racist"
"no I'm not"
"yes you are"
"no I'm not"
"yes you are"
"no I'm not"
"yes you are".............. etc....etc...etc......

##########################################################


Here's one for fans of the Basil Brush tradition of humour...


Black up morris dancer's favourite rock ' n' roll song ?

"Good Golly Mr Molly"


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 11:56 AM

The article at this address gives a reasonably balanced view on the history of border morris and historical references to blacking up in the history of dance.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_Morris
I read it as saying the jury is undecided as to how much if any influence minstrelry had on the matter,it was clearly around before the early 1800's.
Read it and make up your own mind.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Reynard
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 11:57 AM

Bounty Hound I appreciate that you feel it is wrong for anyone to interpret border morris blacking up as racist, and that it is not the intention to be racist. But you must know the connotations that such an activity now carries for a lot of people. Is it not better to be pragmatic and compromise on this small aspect for the "greater good"?

I was referring to the teams mentioned earlier by Phil, where the black face is part of an overall outlandish costume- not likely to be associated with minstrelsy etc.

This creates a different effect to (for example) "the Shropshire Bedlams", where the team is dressed in jeans, trainers and rag jackets, with only their faces blacked. Certainly watching them as part of festival parades, I have felt there were visual parallels with a minstrel show that I found disquieting. Would a "Shropshire Bedlams" starting in 2014 rather than the early 70s choose that combination?

Anyway, I feel like the opinions on both sides of this debate are rather fixed and ultimately it's up to individuals to justify their actions- but don't be surprised if you have to keep justifying this particular choice over and over.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 12:25 PM

'Is it not better to be pragmatic and compromise on this small aspect for the "greater good"?'

So what do you think is the reaction of most people when they see a morris side then Reynard,

'oh look, there's a morris side' perhaps, or 'oh look there's a group of people with black faces, so they must be racist'

(actually, and sadly, the reaction from a lot is probably 'look at that bunch of prats')

I fully accept that there will be some morris men who are racist, just there will also be some fishermen, or railway modelers who are racist, but I really don't think that the mass population look at a morris side and see a racist image, do you? after all, as I've said several times, the face paint is just a small part of the overall picture.

Wish I'd never mentioned the bl..dy pheasants though!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 12:26 PM

Just curious what difference if any it would make to either side of the arguement
if the black face paint
was to be substituted with a black [or any other colour]
balaclava / ski mask with cut out eye and mouth holes ???

[No I'm not talking about KKK hoods...]

Might it then negate associations with race,
but then connect to a network of other cultural connotations.

Russian Morris Dance


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 01:12 PM

Take a look at flag and bone Morris men that will start a whole new argument


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 02:52 PM

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines racism as "poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race" and/or " The belief some races of people are better than others". I.M.H.O I don't think anyone blacking their faces while dancing morris to adhere to the "tradition" of out of work farm lads disguising themselves to dance and "beg" money to tide themselves over fall into either of the above definitions however historically factual that tradition may or may not be.
    While I firmly believe true racism is an evil which sadly will never be totally eradicated from the dysfunctional world we live in, I don't believe that seeing racism where none actually really exists does anything to address the real issues. Threads such as this simply give a platform for people to criticise anything they do not understand or like. This, of course, is their right in a nation that holds dear the principle of free speech, but they do not have the right to accuse anyone of something as vile as racism without evidence that this is actually what is intended.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 03:49 PM

Nice try guest!

1. Many many defos on the big R - mocking people is a smal r but a bad one

2. "anyone blacking their faces while dancing morris to adhere to the "tradition" of out of work farm lads disguising themselves to dance and "beg" money to tide themselves over fall into either of the above definitions however historically factual that tradition may or may not be." - almost entirely unrelated to Border - with it's big boots in Minstrelsey

3. "Threads such as this simply give a platform for people to criticise anything they do not understand or like" - true most post supporting Blackface show all sorts of ignorance - not least of the history of Morros.

3. "but they do not have the right to accuse anyone of something as vile as racism without evidence that this is actually what is intended. " -

4. have you read the stuff above about "The piece goes on to discuss the incorporation of blacking up into "traditional" events: "There would seem to be little doubt that the black faces of the traditional morris dance groups of the Welsh Border counties were at least influenced by minstrelsy. The occasional use of banjoes, bones and tambourines in these morris dances cannot be mere coincidence."???????


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 04:22 PM

Don't forget that Border Morris is not real it is a fiction of someone's imagination


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 05:01 PM

As I said Les, everyone has the right to his/her own opinion. I remember the minstrel show from the 60's/70's', did'nt like them, the fact that they were white men dressing as caricatures of black men was and is wrong on every level. The point I was trying to make is that a culture has arisen where "Racism" is seen where none actually exists. While I accept what is or is not seen as racist is open to personal interpretation I do feel that when we live in a society where children are banned from singing baa baa black sheep at school in case it offends someone it's time to take a reality check


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 05:53 PM

By uncanny coincidence, today's local free paper carries an advert
for a business search directory.
Under the headline "Need an Electrician ?" is a clip art photo
of a dopey looking bloke surrounded by smouldering wires,
with his face all sooty and blacked up for traditional cliched comedy effect.

I showed it to the mrs, asking her..

"Don't think about it, just give your immediate reaction, is this image racist ???"

Mrs punkfolkrocker works in local authority job
many Jeremy Clarkson clone mudcatters would consider exemplifies 'PC gone mad'.
She also has an MA in a 'PC gone madness' field of study.

Her immediate answer was "NO".

Then, a few seconds later, "Well, maybe.."

"But it's just a corny joke, his face is sooty because he's crap at wiring and blew himself up.
OK,... perhaps it could be seen as racist by some people..."

I then explained why I asked the question about the comic photo, in relation the the subject of this thread.

Mrs punkfolkrocker loves watching the local morris side,
but has never heard of black face morris.
I explained further...

She then exclaimed

"What, they deliberately black up their faces !!?? That's definitely racist !!!"

"That's as bad as Golliwogs and black and white minstrels...."



Pro Black Face supporters / Anti Black Face protesters, make of that what you will...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 06:39 PM

"That's as bad as Golliwogs and black and white minstrels...."

Whilst I am also uncomfortable with the blacking up because of modern day sensitivities, I don't agree with this knee-jerk reaction fully.

a) The dolls were a deliberate caricature of people of African descent, and the costume of the dolls was part of this, along with other features.

b) The minstrels were also deliberate caricature, involving a whole catalogue of features, pseudo dialect, gross exaggeration, use of simple primitive instruments, movement etc.

To state that simple blacking of the face is equal to all of this deliberate racism is way over the top. The fact is that no matter how much historically we can relate the blacking up to minstrels, I suspect very few morris dancers are knowingly being offensive.

Was blacking up to perform Othello wrong? Is blacking up to perform Othello wrong? I can remember blacking up to play The Black Prince of Paradise as a mummer back in the 60s. Was this any different to Othello actors? I'm not trying to present a case. These are genuine questions.

One contributor said the whole idea of painting the face is wrong. My local side use the colour purple very effectively and I quite like the effect and can see nothing wrong with this.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 06:48 PM

I was referring to the teams mentioned earlier by Phil, where the black face is part of an overall outlandish costume- not likely to be associated with minstrelsy etc.

This creates a different effect to (for example) "the Shropshire Bedlams", where the team is dressed in jeans, trainers and rag jackets, with only their faces blacked. Certainly watching them as part of festival parades, I have felt there were visual parallels with a minstrel show that I found disquieting.


What visual parallels, though? Minstrels didn't wear tatter coats (and they certainly didn't wear jeans or trainers). They typically wore costumes based on evening dress, with variations & accessories like bow ties & top hats. (If anything, Black Pig's frock coats & top hats are actually closer to the minstrel look!) Minstrels also - invariably - painted their faces with white lips and eye sockets, something border sides never do.

I believe the only reason tatter coats, etc seem to be "associated with minstrelsy" is that, when we see a Morris side, we're already primed to watch out for anything that might be a bit reactionary. A border side's normal get-up is quite 'outlandish' enough that any comparison with minstrels wouldn't arise - unless we're looking for it.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 07:38 PM

"There would seem to be little doubt that the black faces of the traditional morris dance groups of the Welsh Border counties were at least influenced by minstrelsy. The occasional use of banjoes, bones and tambourines in these morris dances cannot be mere coincidence."

And yet even now some misguided folk musicians insist on playing banjoes, oblivious to the offence they may be causing...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 02:19 AM

Nice to see this discussion moving forward now banjo players have becone racists


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 03:33 AM

we live in a society where children are banned from singing baa baa black sheep at school in case it offends someone

I wondered how long it would take before someone brought this up. This is a story from 1986, where it was alleged in the popular press that the nursery rhyme was seen as racially dubious. This was based only on a rewriting of the rhyme in one private nursery as an exercise for the children there and not on any local government policy. As expected the right wing press seized on and amplified this to create a news story about "political correctness gone mad". People have been citing it ever since whenever anyone questions "traditions" like blackface morris.

Meanwhile:

"Good afternoon ladies and gentleman. Today we're going to do some dancing that was invented in 1975. We've blacked up, but here are no racist connotations to what we are doing. The fact that the dances we are doing are loosely based on something that was referred to as 'niggering' in the 19th century should not give you any cause for concern. It's traditional, innit, so that makes it beyond criticism."


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 03:33 AM

we live in a society where children are banned from singing baa baa black sheep at school in case it offends someone

I wondered how long it would take before someone brought this up. This is a story from 1986, where it was alleged in the popular press that the nursery rhyme was seen as racially dubious. This was based only on a rewriting of the rhyme in one private nursery as an exercise for the children there and not on any local government policy. As expected the right wing press seized on and amplified this to create a news story about "political correctness gone mad". People have been citing it ever since whenever anyone questions "traditions" like blackface morris.

Meanwhile:

"Good afternoon ladies and gentleman. Today we're going to do some dancing that was invented in 1975. We've blacked up, but here are no racist connotations to what we are doing. The fact that the dances we are doing are loosely based on something that was referred to as 'niggering' in the 19th century should not give you any cause for concern. It's traditional, innit, so that makes it beyond criticism."


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 03:56 AM

At least I cannot be called racist for playing the concertina, but as for those foreign instruments like guitars.....


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 04:07 AM

The banjo is an African American instrument by origin, popularised by use in minstrel shows. White people playing it does not have any racism connotions. Blacked up white people playing it, on the other hand...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 05:03 AM

It only gets weird when you get self-styled English Folk Purists taking offence at the Turkish fiddle, the Indian harmonium or the Electronic shruti box or whatever. I've had this on a number of occasions; one of them was a guitarist, the other was a concertina player, so I had fun telling 'em just where in the world their tech originated (the concertina uses free reeds developed by the Chinese thousands of years before Wheatstone nabbed them to drive his little honkophone).

I think we established in one of WAVs threads that the only truly indigenous English instrument was the Stylophone - needless to say these are since tarnished by most unfortunate association so mine's been quietly retired until such times it seems respectable to dig it out again. Maybe a case could be made* for the EMS Synthi or VCS3 Putney which were certainly folk in terms of cottage industry handicraft, not to mention consequent lore & mythology which forms the very soul of English Fetishistic Hauntology.

However, my contender for the Ultimate Indigenous English Musical Instrument is The Oramics Machine, currently on display in The Science Museum in London. This cult artefact is a point of pilgrimage for EM devotees from all corners of Planet Earth and no doubt beyond, a veritable shrine at the sacred heart of Ancient Magical Albion which is cause of real Pride & Joy with respect of English Traditional Music (in its true non-folk idiomatic sense naturally). We went there last summer after my wife had just taken a sneaky pic of David Bowie's EMS Synthi in the V&A (I think Major Tom's stylophone had been pulled at the last minute).

Anyhoo, read about The Oramics Machine here:

http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/oramics.

* There is a lame joke here that only Analogue Synth Nerds will get.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 05:04 AM

So a black faced morris man playing the banjo is definately racist then?

Oh for goodness sake, the minstrel was, as has been pointed out, caricature of someone of African origin.

There is evidence of dancers blacking up prior to minstel shows appearing in this country. Why do you think it was necessary to introduce an act of parliament to prohibit the practice?? It is also blindingly obvious that the repeal of that act cleared the way for minstrel shows in this country, so common sense tells us that it is no suprise that there are more recorded instances of dancers blacking up after the repeal of the act as they were then able to revert to old practices. THERE IS NO OTHER CONNECTION!

A morris man in full kit is in no way demeaning to anyone of a different ethnic origin.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 05:23 AM

I give up. Business as usual. Keep on "niggering", lads. When you've finished, you can get a few beers from the "paki shop" and go for a "chinkie". Nothing racist about any of this when there's no offence intended, eh?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 05:35 AM

What visual parallels, though? Minstrels didn't wear tatter coats

Of course they did. Never heard of JIM CROW? He was THE original minstrel character, of TD Rice.

"Zip Coon" was the fancy dandy character, by contrast.

TD Rice brought his wildly popular "Jim Crow" to England in the 1830s. It was one of the most globally enjoyed pieces of popular culture of the first half of the 19th century…possibly even the "ground zero" for the development of most of American-style popular music up to today.

The argument could be (and has been) made that Daddy Rice's "Jim Crow" was not *intended* as racist, per se. In fact, much of early American minstrel music was not INTENDING (if that's the line of argument) to cause offense or to "be racist"…and yet it *was*. And ultimately it didn't just "offend" but created and reinforced oppressive racist views.

The effect in USA was so damaging that "we" can't even do seemingly justifiable things like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5f7HTTll0KA
And here some African-Americans weigh in on the above…in a presentational mode that itself is VERY similar to minstrelsy:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NavLEbmEj5Q

Their last "point" (if you can call it that!) might as well be aimed at the perpetually denying blackface Morris men.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Gibb Sahib
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 05:53 AM

oops, meant to post in the last,
Jump jim crow


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 05:59 AM

Music and musical instruments can be multi-cultural and anti-racist if the if respect and sensitivity are employed.

Whilst a white person playing a banjo, singing a song from Minstrelsey with a 'Blackface' may not entirely show "respect and sensitivity" playing dance tunes from these Islands and other places and explaining the history of the banjo - opportunities for such an explanation being a bit rare - might do quite well.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 06:05 AM

Obviously calling it 'niggering' would be racist, and it would be just as racist if the face-paint involved was green and yellow. Find me someone who does call it that and I'll hold your coat while you advise them otherwise.

I'm not saying dancers shouldn't use less contentious colours than black - in fact, if they want to avoid getting embroiled in endless, pointless, baseless arguments it's probably a good idea. But at the end of the day the arguments are baseless - all-black makeup looks nothing like minstrel blackface, tatter coats look nothing like minstrel gear, and there are plenty of good reasons for playing the banjo*. To me they come out of the same stable as "Child was a bourgeois fabricator", "Sharp was a middle-class imperialist", "the Morris Ring was founded by fascists" and so on. In short, "all this English traditional stuff, isn't it all a bit, you know, dodgy?". To which the answer is, No, it isn't.

*This may be a weak point in my argument.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Howard Jones
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 06:06 AM

All the images I've seen of Jim Crow show the character wearing ragged and patched clothes, but nothing resembling the tatter coats worn by Border morris sides.

Les quotes the mixed-race caller Nigel Hogg who says he sees black up morris sides as "a parody mocking people of colour". Of course he's entitled to his opinion, but I really cannot see anything in morris, from the kit to the dances, that suggest they are mocking black people. The only possible offence is the colour used on the faces.

To repeat the point I made earlier, if morris were mocking black people then painting the faces a different colour, or not at all, would not disguise this.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 06:15 AM

Compare and contrast

Compare and contrast 2


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,pheasants etc
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 07:11 AM

Compare and contrast. Incomplete blacking - just enough for matt black to disguise facial features, as is an established reason for blacking up. I don't think the morris guys have whitened lips - it's a high contrast photo.

If I wear a hat like the guys on the left could I be regarded as mocking black people ?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,pheasants etc
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 07:18 AM

If Jack Blandiver's Stylophone can be "quietly retired until such times it seems respectable to dig it out again" what's the problem (for those who see a problem) with Border Morris dancers bringing 18th century blacked faces out of retirement ?

(It's not "needless to say" - I don't know and am not interested enough to research it)


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Howard Jones
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 07:27 AM

So far as picture 1 is concerned I can so no similarity whatsoever, other than that they both show groups of men with their faces blacked up. The costumes are entirely different. The way they are blacked up is also entirely different - the minstrels are in true 'blackface' with no white skin showing but with exaggerated lips and eyes, the morris have only their faces blacked but their necks and hands are not.

In the second picture the photo of the morris dancer is too poor to really show what he is wearing, but what I can see bears no similarity to the Jim Crow costume. Certainly the tatter jackets of the Shropshire Bedlams and their imitators are quite different.

So far as we know (and I accept the evidence is scanty) Border Morris has a long history of blacking up. Some of that history coincided with a period when blackface minstrelsy was a huge part of popular culture. It would be naive to imagine that it cannot have had some influence on morris during that period, but that is not to say that the practice of blacking up came from minstrelsy, and nothing else in morris suggests that it is imitating black culture whether real or stereotypical

Minstrelsy thankfully is dead and buried. Morris has moved on. In today's society it would be quite wrong to black up to imitate, let alone denigrate, black people but that is not what morris is doing.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 07:28 AM

Close, but no cigar.

First pair: both groups have

- blacked-up faces
- hats
- jackets and ties

But that's about it. The group on the Left have

- beards
- glasses
- no white eye-sockets or lips
- no white gloves
- no one outfit
- nothing spangly, sparkly or showbiz-y
- no jazz hands
- no cheery smiles

Second pair: on the left is a solo dancer striking an exaggerated, hand-waving pose while wearing patched and ragged shirt, trousers, jacket and hat. On the right is someone participating in a group dance, not doing anything to draw attention to him as an individual, wearing an elaborate tatter coat and a hat with feathers along with a perfectly ordinary shirt, trousers and waistcoat.

I'm not saying minstrelsy didn't feed into border Morris and/or Molly dancing - I think it almost certainly did. But if that's the problem, it's always going to be there - changing the way we do border Morris now won't make it go away. What I am saying is that the similarities between minstrel outfits and present-day border Morris get-up are pretty minimal.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 07:32 AM

I think you've defeated your own argument there Spleen, can't see any real similarities, as I've said before, the minstrels are caricature!

As has already been pointed out the minstels have whitened lips and eyes, and afro wigs, the morris men clearly do not.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,pheasants etc
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 07:59 AM

Are "jazz hands" a racial caricature ?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 08:10 AM

Interestingly enough, the Philadelphia Mummers Parade dates back before the rise of Minstrelsy, with even George Washington engaging in the practice of New Year's visiting during the seven years when the City was the Capital: it is only in recent years that this sensitivity legislated on, albeit not entirely satisfactorily, it seems. They also followed the practice of blacking up, and this brings in the diabolical emulation, rather than racial.

Can I correct one misinterpretation of the Law against blacking-up in the 18th Century: the "Waltham" Black Acts described above targetted two specific bodies, the "Waltham Blacks" in Hampshire and the "Windsor Blacks" in Berkshire, who were organised groups most tangibly acting as poachers attacking the property of society figures. However, in decisions not too far removed from the modern anti-terrorism excesses, the covert concern motivating the legislation was that the groups may have been organising as Jacobite rebels using smuggling as a means of fund-raising: the parallels with Russell Thorndyke's Dr Syn fiction are of course only too obvious.

This may have been an expression of a wider movement of social discontent typified by the Welsh Ceffyl Pren, "Wooden Horse", a cross-dressing blackfaced group specialising in direct action to resolve problems the Law would not touch, which culminated in the Rebecca Riots destroying the Toll Gates in South Wales in the 1830s, close on the heels of the repeal of the Waltham Act. The tradition is still ongoing (most actively in the BDSM community!), and has a certain relationship with the Molly Dancer heritage as well, not least in Border Morris.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 08:48 AM

I think I'll bow out of this discussion for now. I'm not going to change anyone's mind - and no-one here has convinced me - especially as I'm coming from a position where I too used to defend this practice and have deployed the same arguments in the past.

I'm just going to make the point that I'm not suggesting these (largely) middle aged white men - presumably from border towns with very small black populations - are in themselves racists or intentionally portraying something that can be viewed as a racist stereotype. The modern-day connotations are quite simply a by-product of living in a post-minstelry era, where minstrelry is the most obvious and best known reference point and where there is a body of evidence suggesting that minstrelry had an influence on the style the current day lot claim to reviving - notwithstanding the evidence that the practice predates minstrelry. What is beyond dispute is that folk revival era border morris sides chose to black up in an era where the practice was already widely regarded as highly dubious because of the legacy of minstrelry. The clock cannot be turned back to erase this part of the history of white entertainment, however much anyone might wish this to be so. Viewed through this prism (and taking the "niggering" issue into account), the argument that the dancers don't dress exactly the same as minstrels is neither here nor there. Questions about this issue will continue to be raised as long as white people black up. And so they should be: it's part of the price of blacking up in the 21st century.

The evidence-based historian Ronald Hutton, in "Stations of the Sun" (read it if you haven't - it's fascinating stuff), notes that in the 18th and early 19th century, morris sides moved between the local big houses at Christmas, dancing for alms: aristocrats, gentry, farmers, tradesman and clergy were viewed as valuable sponsors. Hutton does not make reference to disguise being donned, presumably because dancing to entertain the wealthy was seen as a socially acceptable way for the rural poor to raise money. This tradition declined in the middle of the 19th century because both dancers and patrons (note: patrons!) started to view it as outmoded and because social divisions were widening. Hutton does mention dancers on the borders during this era "generally" blacking up but appears to view this as an exception to the general rule and he does not make reference to this practice being to hide the identity of the dancers. Elsewhere he describes disguise in ritual begging as "part of the general merry-making" which then in itself became part of the ritual - household accounts from the era often include records of payments made for such entertainment.

Anyway, what these people choose to do with their faces is, at the end of the day, entirely up to them. Doesn't mean I have to applaud them for it, though, or own this revival of a minor regional anomaly as meaningful or important part of my cultural heritage.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 09:56 AM

It's all completely daft!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 10:40 AM

Ok.. how well would a black face morris side be received at Notting Hill Carnival ???


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Brimbacombe
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 10:59 AM

"Ok.. how well would a black face morris side be received at Notting Hill Carnival ???"

Just because a black person sees something as racist, that doesn't mean to say that that thing is racist. I would say that those keen to be offended would object strongly. Those whose knees weren't in jerk mode would perhaps speak to the dancers or do a bit of research before making their decision. I dare say some people - and I assume you are referring to black people here, punkfolkrocker - would perhaps find it mildly racist and others not so much. Context is everything. And black people don't think collectively. No minority (or majority, for that matter) does.

My opinion on this matter is that if I were in one of the groups I would probably suggest a move to purple paint. That said I still support people whose acts and intentions aren't racist to carry on as they were doing. There is a lot of racism in this country (and in the world) these days. The bile spread by Britain First, the lack of black members in senior management groups, the rise in racial hate crimes in the aftermath of incidences such as Lee Rigby's murder, etc… etc… I'll fight until my last breath against real, nasty, deliberate racism. A group of middle-aged men putting black on their faces, and doing it as far as they are concerned in the continuation of a centuries-old tradition? I understand the unease over it, but sometimes people just have to feel uneasy about things.

For what it's worth, if my visits to the Notting Hill Carnival these days are anything to go by, I don't think a morris dancing side of any type would be particularly well received. Not least by the public school kids that increasingly populate it these days, trying to prove how edgy they are by smoking a spliff and drinking a can of Red Stripe.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 11:00 AM

I'm not going to change anyone's mind - and no-one here has convinced me - especially as I'm coming from a position where I too used to defend this practice and have deployed the same arguments in the past.

For what it's worth, I've changed sides myself - until quite recently I would have taken a position similar to the one you're taking now, i.e. that when anyone looks at black face make-up they're bound to see something racist.

I said above that it was seeing Black Pig that changed my mind:

They do black up; they also wear top hats, frock coats, scarves, feathers, badges, veils, goggles - you name it - and perform stick dances with such ferocity that they can finish with one fewer stick than they started with. When we saw them at Bakewell, my (Russian folk-dancing) daughter was so enchanted with them that I seriously looked into whether they had a satellite side near us.

Actually it wasn't so much the Pig themselves as my daughter's reaction to them. She's one of the most unprejudiced people you could ever meet; if anything she's actively anti-prejudiced, and tends to react against the slightest reference to someone's gender, ethnicity, orientation, ability etc. I'm pretty liberal, but I grew up in the 70s, when you had to work at not being prejudiced. Her generation would no more pass a racist comment than they'd watch Watercolour Challenge - it just wouldn't occur to them.

So if she can watch 30 blacked-up musicians and dancers for half an hour without thinking any the worse of them for it - in fact, without thinking anything except "where can I get some more of this?" - that suggests to me that black face makeup doesn't automatically ring the 'they might be racists' bell. It needs something else - and I think what it needs is the suspicion that the people doing it aren't edgy young steampunk rebels, but middle-aged guys who are into English traditional music but haven't thought deeply about what they're doing. In other words, that they're typical folkies.

To me it boils down to this: when we look at folkies do we think "ooh, ye olde England - I bet they're 'kippers"? And, if other people looking at folkies do think that, how do we react?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 11:02 AM

An interesting question Guest Punkfolkrocker, I suspect the answer is not very well, but mainly because Notting Hill is a Carribean festival and morris of any description would be completely out of place.

I am very much of the opinion that any inteligent person of afro-carribean origins would not be offended by blacked up morris dancers, as I believe they would show respect for the traditions of the country they live, and may well have been born in. those that do not, are perhaps guilty of being racist themselves,


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 11:29 AM

In an ideal world a morris side could be invited to perform at Notting Hill.

Maybe it's already happened - it's well over 15 years since I last attended..???

For me & the mrs, the best events are multicultural and a mix of diversity.

Like Phil Edwards, I'm a product of a generation that had to learn to no longer be racist or sexist.

Punk / new wave / 2 tone ska / Rock against racism / anti n@zi leauge
were the big bang catalyst for provincial teenagers like me,
who grew up on Curry and Chips / Love Thy Neighbour / Black and white minstrals / Bernard Manning & the Comedians,
and all the rest of that deeply ingrained cultural racism and misogyny..

Internationalism, and multiculturailsm is something we grew to take on board
as more meaningful and valuable than all the closed minded xenophobic crap we were previously indoctrinated with.

The first big WOMAD Festival at Shepton Mallet, was the best UK festival I ever went to.

As a result, I guess we 50 somethings are maybe now more concious about 'what not to do or say',
than a younger generation that is maybe more relaxed in taking progressive attitudes for granted.

I hope to think so anyway...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 11:32 AM

Typo -- meant to write "now more self-concious about 'what not to do or say'"


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Brimbacombe
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 11:34 AM

"As a result, I guess we 50 somethings are maybe now more concious about 'what not to do or say',
than a younger generation that is maybe more relaxed in taking progressive attitudes for granted.

I hope to think so anyway…"

As someone of a younger generation who has grown up only really knowing multiculturalism, I think that is a great way of looking at things punkfolkrocker. A slight oversensitivity - if that's what it is - is a billion times better than total insensitivity.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Edthefolkie
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 12:14 PM

I'd like to advance a totally spurious theory about Black Pig Morris.

They hail from D H Lawrence country and channel the spirits of their ancestors who went down pit, holding their snap tins, helmets and lamps, and delved in the earth for black gold. The belligerent stick dancing is believed to recreate the ambience of Eastwood on a Saturday night.

I haven't however thought up a theory about their associated belly dancing side - feel free.

Incidentally some members of Black Pig employ a sort of silver & black face makeup which could be the way ter go me duck.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,pheasants etc
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 12:48 PM

Excuse me punkfolkrocker with your "I'm a product of a generation that had to learn to no longer be racist or sexist." I find your speaking for a whole generation offensive.

Some of us felt that the things on your list were wrong all along.

Though I never encountered "Curry & Chips" and don't see the problem with choosing that at the chippy.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 12:53 PM

Also your events that are "multicultural and a mix of diversity" often rely on preservation and re-invention of traditions including those of middle aged white men with bells and sticks.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 12:55 PM

Well I applaud your superior progressiveness .. well done...

shame you're so easily offended though...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 01:09 PM

"Also your events that are "multicultural and a mix of diversity" often rely on preservation and re-invention of traditions including those of middle aged white men with bells and sticks."

yeah.. maybe often ?

but not always ..

I'm a middle aged white man with battle scarred electric guitars, fuzz boxes, and deep tremelo & dub echo delays....

and the odd anlog synth or 2..

But then again, I fit in another easily definable niche of recycled retro traditional musical enthusiasms..


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 01:09 PM

and of course the middle aged men with sticks don't have to be white.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 01:13 PM

PFR, I take great exception to the way you take exception to the post that took exception to your post. Please unsubscirbe me from yuor list immediately. (Oops, wrong decade.)


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 01:20 PM

Oh sod this for a game of ideological re-education,
I'm off to make the wife's dinner before she get's home from work...

Now could you imagine Sid James or Terry Scott saying that...???


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 03:15 PM

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/15/black-up-row-uk-one-nation-cameron


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Graham O'Callaghan
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 05:02 PM

Blimey, haven't you people more important things to do? I was a founder member of a Border Morris side at the beginning of the 80's ... not many of us around in those days ... and in some ways modelled ourselves on Silurian who were/are a pretty well established traditional side who still dance a collected repertoire. What I would moan about is not the 'black face' but how current sides have degraded the tradition by wearing multi coloured costumes and face paint, prat about without any regard for style, rhythm or timing, use there sticks like wet hankies and yelp like digs on heat!! They are an absolute shambles!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 12:11 PM

If you choose to take offence at white people blacked-up in all cases that's fine. If you start to discriminate between those instances you choose to find offensive and those you don't then you're already stating that blacking up only 'might' be a racist statement. My 'cheap shot' was not intended to be such, you simply chose to call it that because it didn't fit into your view of the world. That really is the point and it seems to me that, to judge by the preceding posts, the problem with black-face morris dancing is largely in the eye of the beholder.
From the point of view of a 'multi-cultural society' however, dream on. My experience of our society seems to be an observation of ethnic groups barricading themselves into their enclaves and claiming to be members of this 'community' or that 'community'. Integration in this country is a non-starter ad not far from the all-white community in which I live, there are Asian and Serbian Roma at each other's throats. Regular marches by the English Defence League and a 50% incursion of UKIP into our local council (many of the UKIP voters were Asians from the 'Pakistani Community'.) Where I live, a bloke blacked up is generally seen as a chap with a job!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,#
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 12:24 PM

Please, come perform for us and explain about the black face stuff.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 02:47 PM

If you start to discriminate between those instances you choose to find offensive and those you don't then you're already stating that blacking up only 'might' be a racist statement.

It's not a matter of discrimination. White people who have vocational black-faces (chimney sweeps. coalmen, miners, SAS on night patrol etc.) are not engaged in niggering or any other bogus made-up or otherwise re-invented so-called folkloric practise that needs to be explained to the plebs who are wholly ignorant of its noble & wholly non-racist Tradition & History despite the practise post-dating The Black & White Minstrel Show by a good few years and taking place in a racially sensitive multi-cultural society.

I speak as one who used the black-up for genuine folkloric reasons in my South East Northumbrian childhood to go guising at Hallowe'en. And vocational reasons too because we could cause mayhem and not be seen let alone recognised. But we were just kids on the rampage, not grumpy old morris-men cocking a snoop at Political Correctness Gone Mad.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 02:58 PM

Jack, that just about sums it up as reasonably as possible...

Though of course the Jeremy Clarksons of the UK folk scene will still continue to stir up discontent just because they can.....


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 03:21 PM

But again you're assuming your conclusion. If the only reason why Morris sides black up was that they're grumpy old morris-men cocking a snoop at Political Correctness Gone Mad and/or the Jeremy Clarksons of the UK folk scene, then I'd be with you - I'd say, sod 'em. I don't see any reason to believe this is the case, though.

I think it's a reflexive cringe adopted by right-on traddies - no, not us, we're not reactionary bigots! - and we'd be better off abandoning it. Are there more bigots and kippers in Morris sides than there are in line-dancing teams, say, or amateur football clubs? I don't know why we should think so.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 03:33 PM

Anyone seen any comments in the various letter pages of the papers that published the photo? I didn't see any responses in the Times. I wonder if it has provoked the senses of anyone other than us folkies!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Punkfolkrocker
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 03:45 PM

Phil, obviously the reality is more complex than just reactionary bigots versus PC gone mad...

I'm genetically 33% punk / 33% hippy / 33% provincial west country council estate kid / 1% ???;
and as far as PC gone mad goes - 75% ideologially correct / 25% 1970s sit-com fan..

I actually don't care if they continue to black up if it means that much to them.
Just as long they do it with an informed awareness that it could upset some folks,
and if it does, not just dismiss, deny, rationalize the offence away:
or even worse shift the blame to those who might be offended,
and insult them as being unreasonably over-sensitve if they complain about it...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfokrocker
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 03:55 PM

.. and be aware of the extent to which E*L and B*P take an interest in our 'innocent' Folk Traditions
for their own nefarious propaganda purposes..


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 08:05 PM

Let's teach you something about military cam paint, as it keeps haunting this. It's not blackface, this is why:

The first target is to break the highlights of your face up, cheekbones, nose, chinline - Shine.
Next, not to cover the entire face, but to stripe it to break up the - Shape.
Then, add other stuff to break up the edges - Silhouette.
Finally, put shadow where it shouldn't be, so they don't see what they are looking for - your eyes - Shadow.
I've had someone looking for me walk straight past a foot away. It works.

So the cam paint is not blackface either. It's streaks, often particolour, and fits with other stuff, veils and scrim. Why did Elizabeth 'Arden? Max Factor.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 08:36 PM

... and not forgetting our islands heritage of dirty protests - smearing your face in poo...

Here's an idea for a 21st Century identity disguising morris presentation
that is conceptually connected to the rural landscape,

immerse your face in a freshly dropped cowpat...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 08:18 AM

Rahere wrote: Let's teach you something about military cam paint, as it keeps haunting this. It's not blackface, this is why:
Thanks for that - it serves to make an important point. In my area the dancers used 'raddle' an red iron oxide which was put on their faces to conceal the features as a disguise. Contemporary reports talk of them as looking like 'red indians' - that is to say they used exactly the 'streaking' method which Radhere describes. In East Yorkshire they burned wine corks and did the same thing but it was black streaks not red. However, once you start covering the entire face in uniform black - that may be a different issue
I have in front of me a photo of the Marton cum Grafton plough bullocks from the late 19th century. Their faces are blackened and then white streaks seem to have been added to give an 'animal-like' appearance. Their costumes also serve to indicate that they represent animals. By the same token, the Ecclesfield Plough Bullocks procession from around the same period shows, uniformly black faces with lighter eye sockets and lips - with the top hats, despite their being harnessed to a plough, there is little doubt about what they are representing -


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 12:17 PM

The camouflage is to conceal that there is a face. 'Solid' black is to conceal the features of a face. With a single colour black is more effective than other colours because it makes the shadow lines less obvious. Real black faces are not so black.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 01:47 PM

Something related and relevant, especially this time of year...

Somerset Carnival Season...

Last one I went to was a few years ago..

.. and it is genuinely exciting to experience the sheer brightness of the thousands of light bulbs
and earth shakingly loud music systems..

I've googled but can't find evidence if they still permit B & W Minstrels
or black face jungle themed floats..???

Though I'm fairly certain they stil allow 'Oriental' floats with Asianized eye make up..??

Be interesting to know what the policy is.

I might contact some old mates in the Bridgwater area.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,John Bowden
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 01:57 PM

I'm surprised nobody has referred to Trish Bater's dissertation "'Blacking Up': English Folk Traditions and Changing Perceptions about Black People in England", here: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/4181/1/MPhil_upload.pdf.

In her executive summary Trish says:

"It is concluded that here is a long history of blacking up in England and that current blackface practice is not intentionally associated with Victorian 'nigger minstrels'; however, minstrelsy was so popular that its influence cannot be discounted. It is also suggested that the folk process has always absorbed and reflected influences from popular culture, and continues to do so; and that in an area of strong opinion, no definitive answers can be given that will satisfy everyone."

In the dissertation she deals with many of the points and arguments that have been mentioned in this thread - I'd advise anybody to read her well-researched, well-written analysis before making any more wild generalisations!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 02:51 PM

Thanks for that, John.
However I don't see a lot of wild generalisations on this thread (unlike many others), just people offering opinions and some historic background. Most of us are trying to see ways round the problem. Trish's summary just about sums up this thread.

There are those at one end who think owning a black cat is racist and those at the other end who are openly racist. Most of us are huddled in the middle somewhere trying to avoid the extremists and not give them a platform.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 03:23 PM

There's also the opinion that says this idiotic practise it's just revivalist posturing and has nothing to do with history, tradition or folklore in the slightest. It begins in the 1960s; as such it's a modern contrivance, one that proliferates in more recent years.

So - if it's not racist (which now appears to be The Received Opinion) then what the hell is it? Because it sure as hell ain't folklore, because that died out long, long, ago...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 03:36 PM

Yes , I agree Steve, there have been a lot of reasoned, well-argued and interesting comments from both "camps". However, there have been an awful lot of uncalled-for insults, invective and unwarranted aspersions, and I think if people had read Trish's thesis, in which she discusses most of the extreme points made, there would bace been no need for the unproductive name-calling and attempts to associate the Border teams with reactionary movements: e.g.

"Probably the only [reason] - for 'Blackface' is music Hall where white people mocked black people by blacking up".

"The very act of deliberately blacking up is racist. Anything else is just an excuse"

'At election time, the young skinheads in the hostel flats on our street
prominently displayed B*P posters in their windows,
in direct view of the young black family opposite... i daresay these young skins would be amongst the first to volunteer to march in protest and support "for the traditional rights of morris teams to wear black faces".

"I give up. Business as usual. Keep on "niggering", lads. When you've finished, you can get a few beers from the "paki shop" and go for a "chinkie"

"The Jeremy Clarksons of the UK folk scene will still continue to stir up discontent just because they can".

I'm not a fan of Border morris, so I'm not really trying to defend all their practices. However, some of the attempted identification of tatter jackets with Jim Crow uniforms etc. just reduces the argument to a nonsensical level, and contributes "more heat than light" to the discussion!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,John Bowden
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 03:42 PM

Sorry, Guest above was me!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 04:19 PM

Why would a morris dancer want to be recognisable ?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 04:45 PM

Be that as it may, Jack, your opinion seems to be far too extreme and opposed to the majority who are able to rationalise and use common sense. Folklore is all around us all of the time and is constantly evolving. It is part of the human psyche.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 04:54 PM

I'm surprised nobody has referred to Trish Bater's dissertation

Why would you be surprised that people don't refer to a recent Master's dissertation?

There are red flags all over that Master's dissertation (what we call a Master's thesis in USA). Written for "The National Centre for English Cultural Tradition"? Bater talks about her many years of engagement with the Folk scene, and peppers the discussion with Mudcatty phrases like "the folk process."

In short, it looks pretty biased or at least narrowly focused.

I prefer Dale Cockrell's book _Demons of Disorder_, on the early years of blackface minstrelsy in America. He rehearses the arguments about earlier customs of blacking up, and reasons that some of these, in fact, were influential on the development of minstrelsy. But the fact is that minstrelsy's blacking up changed the meaning of the practice. In most cases, blacking up after minstrelsy is like using the swastika after Nazi Germany.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,John Bowden
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 06:06 PM

"Why would you be surprised that people don't refer to a recent Master's dissertation?" - well, perhaps surprised was a bit strong, but I expect that some of the UK contributors would know about it, and though somebody might have referred to it .

"There are red flags all over that Master's dissertation (what we call a Master's thesis in USA)" - I don't know what 'red flags' are, and it's not a Masters (MA) thesis, it's an MPhil thesis.

"Written for "The National Centre for English Cultural Tradition"?" - Why the question mark? Presumably you're questioning the academic standing of the Centre? If so, you're way off the mark - based at the University of Sheffield, one of the leading Russell Group universities in the UK, the Centre began as the Sheffield Survey of Language and Folklore over 40 years ago, and has generated an enormous amount of field work, collecting, research and publications.

"In short, it looks pretty biased or at least narrowly focused" - not sure how you come to this conclusion.

'I prefer Dale Cockrell's book _Demons of Disorder_, on the early years of blackface minstrelsy in America" - probably so would I, if that's what we were talking about, but the thesis makes the point that the American tradition of minstrelsy was not a major influence on the folk tradition of disguise.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 06:23 PM

John, sorry if the reality that organized far right groups and their supporters
could actually be taking a keener interest in innocent Trad British folk customs
than most liberal folkies might be aware, may be so discomforting....

... see, I'm the kind of pc gone mad lefty who tends to try not to be too dogmatic....


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 07:48 PM

What's the problem it's a load of people enjoying themselves and getting pissed. To all the knockers cheers and get a life


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 08:55 PM

Usually I only post links to fun pop culture stuff.. and not always just to wind up the old miseries,
but seeing as John has raised the 'contextual material' bar to a whole new level of post grad seriousness..

here's another one...

The Imagined Folk of England: Whiteness, Folk Music and Fascism

Maybe try reading this over a sunday lunchtime pint or 4...

Not quite as easy as the Mail or Express !!!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 18 Oct 14 - 09:37 PM

Just to point out that the term PC was coined (I think) and widely used (I know) by the Communists back un the 1940s


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 19 Oct 14 - 01:26 AM

The opening of the Bater study is a CPS (DA in US) review of a Padstow event which is closer to the Minstrel heritage than anything in the folk world, which was found no to infringe the law on racial discrimination. The only conclusion I can draw from that is that the folk tradition is safely inside the line: or that the Law is wrong. Lex mala sed lex apart, there is a band of grey where one man's sensitivity is another's licence, and the Law must be relatively static. The Law on Racism is NOT there to allow carte-blanche to every minority, but to stop the majority becoming unfair. If these performances were being done with an intent to discriminate, then there would be a case, obviously: but doing it for other reasons does not, and is not therefore illegal. The Law does not address the superficiality, but the reality.

The evidence Bater presents of an association between the Cefyl tradition and the 'oss takes the folk heritage back into the Bronze Age, almost certainly predating the arrival of the first Africans with the Romans (I say "almost certainly" because there was trade in metals up to 500 years before that, initially with Greece, then Rome, but not with the Phoenician colonies of North Africa). The numerous burials found with horse heads indicate that the 'oss/Cefyl tradition is a descendant of a tribal icon, certainly of the Iceni, and probably of the Durobantes and Silures. It is not by chance that these traditions all exist in the areas where the horse was worshiped. It then becomes clear that the remaining questions of things like the Bacup Coconuts were adherences of current trends to a far older tradition, and to ditch the tradition just because of certain accretions is to deny its origins.

The Lucas paper examining the hijacking of an older heritage by the Nationalist right definitely puts the cart before the horse: sort the hijackers out, not the hostages. To do otherwise would actually be racist, giving them credence for something which is arrant, offensive nonsense.

I therefore conclude that as guardians of a far older heritage, we must be aware of certain influences which we may wish to disparage, but at the same time can show that the pre-Christian influences which almost certainly included most of the guising tradition which this is part of, and which had nothing whatsoever to do with people of African origins. Case dismissed, stop trying to throw the baby out with the bathwater, there is a long and dishonourable tradition of racism in the UK we are putting a stop to, but don't go so far as to destroy everything we ever had simply because of a false parallel, our different cultures should live together with a sense of humour. If this were being done with any intent to oppress, diminish or offend the black community, then it would need to change, but it isn't: however, for the black community to make false aspersions or parallels disposes of their case. They might as well ask anyone named Black, Douglas or the like to change their names.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Oct 14 - 04:02 AM

In most cases, blacking up after minstrelsy is like using the swastika after Nazi Germany.

Interesting article in current Radio Times on reclaiming the swastika. There's a programme about it this coming Friday. See HERE.

*

your opinion seems to be far too extreme and opposed to the majority who are able to rationalise and use common sense

My opinion, Steve, is simply that this practise was fabricated by folk enthusiasts in the 1960s and 70s, a fact that surely negates arguments as to it being Traditional and / or Historical, whatever the conceptual basis for the re-creation. People say it is Not Racist - all I'm asking, in the light of the fact that it's demonstrably not Historic or Traditional either, then what the hell is it?

Folklore is all around us all of the time and is constantly evolving

People who do Folklore as a hobby do so in a rarefied revivalist atmosphere akin to LARPing, historical re-enactment or railway modelling. I would argue (extreme opinion apart!) that what happens in Black-Faced Morris Dancing is no more Folklore than a Hornby 00 model of the Flying Scotsman is part of the transport system. It's Steam-folk, pure and simple. It is faux, bogus and, worse, misleading with respect of the historic prototypes themselves - the societal / traditional / human context that defined such practices as genuinely folkloric whether they blacked-up for racist reasons or not.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Oct 14 - 04:26 AM

@punfolkrocker - The introduction of the Caroline Lucas article relies on academic work by an author who's work is not included in the References. It is not obvious from the article that the concept of "whiteness" stems largely from academic work in North America and Australia. In neither country is the history of the relationship between communities of people with black and white skins the same as in the UK

Sloppy


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 19 Oct 14 - 07:56 AM

GUEST - errrr.... who's 'sloppy' ???

Lucus ? me ? or you ???

.. really not too clear.. is it your chosen mudcat name ?????


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,pheasants etc
Date: 19 Oct 14 - 08:23 AM

Sloppy of Lucas not to properly cite the source of a statement. It's supposed be an academic paper, not the Daily Mail. Or is it just an opinion piece ?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 19 Oct 14 - 08:51 AM

f@cked if I know...???

I only posted it for the benefit of folks with high opinions of themselves
who need to take everthing far too seriously;
whilst looking down their noses at mere ordinary folks just trying to get along and get by...

Ask Lucas herself if you're that bothered...

I gave up caring to read stuff like that when I packed in middle class post grad academia 25 years ago
for the realities of getting pissed and partying with Scots and Irish building site labourers
I long term houseshared with...

Good decent blokes & mates who I had more in common with
than a lot of the vain puffed up self important pillocks I'd studied with....


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 19 Oct 14 - 10:56 AM

Jack Blandiver writes; 'It begins in the 1960s; as such it's a modern contrivance, '
Amazing statement Jack, can you clarify this? There are photographs and contemporary reports on the practice going back into the 19th century … surely you're not going to do yourself the disservice of arguing against the overwhelming evidence that the practice predates the 1960s by some considerable time?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Oct 14 - 11:02 AM

If Jack is right which he patently isn't (I'd rather believe someone who has done the research!) then there is no reason at all to link border morris to minstrelsy.

If Jack is wrong then the historic use of blacking up has plenty of precedence other than the slight extra influence of minstrelsy in a few cases.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Blandiver (Astray)
Date: 19 Oct 14 - 01:11 PM

Amazing statement Jack, can you clarify this? There are photographs and contemporary reports on the practice going back into the 19th century …

Oh come, come. You're not seriously suggesting that the Revival practise of black-faced Border Morris is anything other than a modern re-creation of something once practised but long died out are you? Next you'll be suggesting that a bunch of us folkies singing the old songs down the pub are keeping the tradition alive...

Even the WIKI entry makes it clear that the practise was revived in 1960s with John Kirkpatrick 'creating a new Shropshire tradition in 1975' with the Shropshire Bedlams.

*

If Jack is right which he patently isn't (I'd rather believe someone who has done the research!) then there is no reason at all to link border morris to minstrelsy.

You're mistaking me with someone else, Steve - I've never said it has, & much less do I care if it was - that's a historic & folkloric concern that has nothing to do with the modern practise of black-faced morris dancing which has only really proliferated in recent times (i.e. more recently than the 1970s). That said, the term 'niggering' was used by traditional exponents of the practise in the 19th century, but I dare say the political consciousness of your average Victorian rural labourer wasn't exactly raised.

My main objection is that revival morris-persons think it's justiable to black-up in the name of a tradition that died the death long ago. By re-creating it, no matter how faithfully, they do not represent it, nor are they keeping it alive - what they are doing is a revivalist hobby, not genuine folkloric practise. Blacking-up for purposes of hobbyism is dodgy to say the least, especially when excused on lines of tradition and history - neither of which apply here.

The Revival is not The Tradition; Modern Folky Practises are not historic ones. Furthermore, a Hornby 00 Flying Scotsman is not a real train (however authentic in its detail) neither will the government be sending members of the English Civil War Society to serve in Iraq any time soon.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,pheasants etc
Date: 19 Oct 14 - 01:34 PM

I thought they were blacking up so that when they went back to work no-one knew they had been making an exhibition of themselve.

A fate which befalls non blacked-up morris dancers.

Or, look at it another way, all over the world people paint themselves on wear masks to go out celebrating on the streets.

No-one needs to be reviving anything


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 19 Oct 14 - 04:42 PM

To say that the Border tradition broke misunderstands the Welsh: it may have not been practiced, but completely broken? Never. I married in, things like the Hwyl Nos and New Years visiting never finished in places north and west of Swansea, and that includes the blacking and crossdressing - I'm quite swarthy for a whitey and so I'm in demand when there! Nothing to do with African heritage, just something that has happened since the dawn of time. I surprised the lot when the Welsh performers tried to take the mickey out of the English by getting him clog-dancing: they didn't know I wear French clogs around the house, and so outdid them.

One of the neighbours grandkids had a straightener from the Cefyl in the 1990s. Border Morris simply took back what never finished in Welsh Wales. Maybe the steps aren't kosher, but that was never something to bother the Welsh - it's the spirit behind it that matters.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 19 Oct 14 - 07:06 PM

"what they are doing is a revivalist hobby, not genuine folkloric practise"

Is it less genuine than (say) Rose Queens, drum majorettes or 'fluffy Morris'? If so, why?

In theory you could draw a line between real ("because that's how we do it") custom and fake ("because we read about it in a book") custom. In practice, in the twenty-first century, I'm not so sure.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 19 Oct 14 - 07:15 PM

Well, I think that proves the case: whatever it is, it's not racist. Innocent until proven guilty, m'lud?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 19 Oct 14 - 07:16 PM

'
Oh come, come. You're not seriously suggesting that the Revival practise of black-faced Border Morris is anything other than a modern re-creation of something once practised but long died out are you?


Just to remind you Jack, to be 'revived' something had to exist in the first place. Blacking up was not exclusive to border morris, but was also in East Anglia with Molly dancers. There is absolutely nothing racist about it, and I fail to understand your issue with wanting to revive a tradition. Would you have the same issue with say, someone of West Indian origin wanting to maintain or revive something from their traditions?

And just to explain for you again, the face paint for a dancer is just one small part of the kit, and the overall 'image' it is no way an attempt to caricature anyone!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 04:38 AM

Is it less genuine than (say) Rose Queens, drum majorettes or 'fluffy Morris'? If so, why?

Why? Because these things happen as unselfconscious folkloric practise. Simply put they are not Folk because they are not recreations by a separate class of (superior) people who, in any case, regarded them (or at least their immediate precedents) as being '...degenerate...by...extreme popularity...' (see caption for picture 3 on p 82 of The Imagined Village). Fluffy Morris is thus real in a way Border Morris never can be; the latter is folk posturing operating at several very significant social, cultural, anthropological and historic removes from its prototype, whereas the former is the Real Thing : a 100% genuine living working-class community tradition practised by 100% genuine working-class people living 100% genuine working-class lives in the Real World and, therefore, about as far from the faux aestheticism of revivalist hobbyism as you can get.

Even if there were non-racist reasons for the traditional dancers of the 19th century to have blacked up, for a morris-person to do so today is akin to the paedophile citing the AOC laws pre 1875 to justify their desire to have sex with 12-year-olds.

The past, as they say, is another country. Best we leave it where it belongs.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 05:01 AM

Bit like using the Hitler-bomb, a sure sign of a lost case. You just pulled a circular argument, if you didn't notice, "Blacking up is racist because blacking up is racist". Doesn't address the point that it isn't, because you then pull a secondary logical fallacy in the syllogism that because all black people dislike blackface minstrels, and blackface minstrels are musicians, then all black people dislike (insert any other category of musician here, including border morris, molly dancers and soul singers). It's in the same class of false logic as saying Gordon Brown knows nothing about economics, and Gordon Brown is a politician, therefore no politician should be entrusted with the economic management of the country. Possible, but stretching a point too far.
I once had a boss who used to be a specialist in that technique, abstracting a case so far up into the realms of the esoteric it no longer had any relationship with reality, before redefining it down in terms which suited him. He soon lost all respect.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 05:15 AM

And in any case, Jack, if the past is another country, leave it where it is, what on earth are you doing here? Folk is heritage music, whilst we're not iconising the history of our music, none the less we develop it flying on the backs of the greats who went before us. We should not leave it there, because if we do we disown everything that went before us, we disown what we do and might as well give up.
The reason border and molly survive is because they have a point, and the very question of blackface keeps our sensitivities and self-examination against the possibility we might have anything racist in our actions up to the mark: we have moved on from the listen-with-mother Noddy and his gollies: sometimes such pasts must be corrected before being left behind, but this is not one of them. We don't want the Farrage comfort blanket, persuading people to go down that broad broad road talked of in Thomas the Rhymer, the path of the comfortable conman telling us we don't need to do a reality check at least occasionally, and the broad-brush "all blackface is wrong" is equally inappropriate.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 05:25 AM

"recreations by a separate class of (superior) people"

Just wondering how you'd class the Goathland Plough Stots - revived after Cecil Sharp had visited the village to note the dance steps and music still recalled by surviving members. Seems that the posh chap from Down South with his condescending, superior attitude was the catalyst that got the locals dancing again. Which they've been doing ever since.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 06:18 AM

Brian, how do you know that Sharp had a "condescending, superior attitude". People that I met in the Appalachians who had, in turn, met Sharp didn't think him "superior".


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 06:21 AM

I think Brian was being ironic there, Mike!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 06:27 AM

If that is the case, then fair enough. But, in the past there has just been so much misinformation about Sharp. I never really warmed to him until I went to the Appalachians, and then discovered for myself just what he had achieved under such difficult circumstances.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 06:30 AM

Sorry Mike, I was using sarcastically the kind of invective that critics tend to throw at Sharp, not least (by implication) Jack Blandiver at 04:38. Perhaps I need an appropriate emoticon to signal ironic intent.

My own view - having looked at the Appalachian material (though without your first-hand knowledge), and also his relationship with Louie Hooper, Lucy White, etc., in Somerset - is quite the opposite. He seems to have been very good at gaining the personal confidence and indeed friendship of people from a very different social background. Of course there may be some (though not me) who claim that he used this to advance his bourgeois or racist ends, but that discussion doesn't really belong to this thread.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 06:30 AM

Ironic at my expense I might add...

Personally I feel such a condescending, superior attitude is implicit in the whole sorry business of folk revivalism. It's the patronising imperial paternalistic core of the thing that Kipling evokes so perfectly in his poem The Land.

Mostly, and happily, and vibrantly, working-class cultural & musical experience thrives without such patronage as it has done for 50,000 years; it is a popular feral reality that continues to astonish, though precious little of it, as I keep saying, would be of any interest to Folk Enthusiasts for whom Folk is Heritage music.

Sorry, I must go and throw up.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 07:00 AM

What happens when somebody gets a Rose Queen ceremony out of a book? Or when somebody stumbles on a Morris side, not knowing any of the background, thinks "this looks like fun" and starts one of their own? Folk or fake?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 07:26 AM

Folk or fake?

Folk is fake. That's the golden rule. The rest is a matter of personal faith.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 08:25 AM

Or nothing's fake. As far as I'm concerned what's real is the urge to take part in music, dancing and dressing-up, whatever form it takes.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 08:34 AM

True, I think it's one thing I agree on - CSH still hasn't got its head out of its arsehole. Or perhaps it's the Arts Council's. I couldn't bear to investigate too deeply, but fled. There may be some real people on the Council, but their Admin, my God! Never saw most of them down the bar...
Throughout my life I've been seen as the team sergeant. Of late some of my circle wanted me in on a London Gentleman's Club known as Spook Central, but they all collapsed, I'm still standing: I think that's the difference, If you're in touch with where you came from you'll persist. Me dad started in the Portsmouth Corporation Tram depot, I started as a warehouseman in Sainsburys. We both rose to do some remarkable stuff. It's the Occifers who're diletantes, amateurs, poseurs, never been there and dunnit, they need us folks to make them real: same as my daughter, bright lass, led the way with the Brussels Eurobrats showing them how the rest live, integrating them with the local community. That's half the point, isn't it? Having the nouse to call BS what it is - and that's what we're on about here. If you define the terms by which you get upset, then you've only got yourselves to blame if you get the traditional response, "two lovely black eyes, two lovely black eyes, only for telling a man he was wrong, two lovely black eyes." Gentlemen and dancers...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 08:59 AM

That's a matter of personal faith, Phil. It's like believing in God. If it's real to you subjectively that's fine. Objectively, however, like God, it's demonstrably a load of phoney tosh the religiosity of which makes a lot of claims with respect of its provenance & authenticity that have no place in shared reality. As I've always said, at least a model railway enthusiast would know a real train should ever they encounter one. Your common-or-garden folk enthusiast is too wrapped up in the illusion of it all to tell the difference.

Does this matter? I think it does because somewhere along the way the very important differentiation between Traditional & Revival seems to have been lost. In persisting on the authenticity of its recreations the Revival serves to obfuscate the nature of genuine folklore - be it the long-dead traditional prototypes it uses for its grotesque modern charades, or else in overlooking the Real Thing because it doesn't fit into the faux-aestheticm that appeals to the mindset of your average Folk Enthusiast. Thus the human dimension is lost - as in the present instance when otherwise reasonable people have somehow managed to convince themselves that dancing with backed-up faces in the public spaces of 21st Century UK is somehow a worthy, noble, tradition, historic and (above all) Not Racist thing to do.

I think now my excommunication from the folk world is complete. This thread and its related bluster has, I fear, been the final straw!

Offski - Sedayne!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 10:53 AM

1971 - this was real authentic working class West Country culture.
Getting dressed up, half cut, loud and lewd, and letting your hair down to songs like this
on two weeks summer holday at seaside caravan holiday camps...

I know. I was there way past my normal school day bedtime,
with my bottle of fizzy pop and bag of crisps,
looking on at the pissed up cavorting grown ups,
all the while absorbing the heady atmosphere of my tribal mating rituals .....

All totally, happily oblivious to whatever the teachers, factory managers, and town hall officials
might have been getting up to with their airy fairy middle class folk revival recreation
of their version of Great British lower class traditional customs....


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 12:34 PM

Study Texts for the remainder of the week:

"Carry On Camping"
"Holiday On The Buses"
"Confessions From A Holiday Camp"


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 03:06 PM

And I was being taught maypole by Harry Hambleton, who's listed in the RVWL as one of the last trad maypole dancers from Sussex. We weren't all being conned by the siren songs of popular culture.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,raymond greenoaken
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 03:27 PM

Looks like Jack B has excommunicated himself from the folk scene. Is that allowed? Doesn't the Pope get a say?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 03:32 PM

Rahere - I'll be serious for a bit...

Is it fair for non scholars / musicologists / Folklorists / etc to consider
there were parallel folk 'revivals' in the 60s & 70s...???

one of which, scattered regional pockets of working class communities
continuing to pass on and enjoy their indigenous authentic folk traditions,
being overshadowed by the more dominant middle class recreational fancy dress hobbyists...???

In my neck of the woods, the only real noticable traditions we grew up with were the autumn carnivals
which many bourgeois 'traddies' might dismiss as garish low brow concoctions of loud brightly lit
celebrations of pop culture influences...

But, then we were the grandchildren of the sons of the soil interviewed by Cecil Sharp.
Families disconected from the rural lanscape,
council estate factory wage slaves with colour tellys -
and pub skittles and darts for wage earners..

Never saw a maypole outside of primary school Ladybird books....


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 03:52 PM

'Revival' and 'fake' are now synonyms. Can I have that confirmed in a dictionary somewhere, Sedayne, please?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 04:07 PM

A list of some current working class traditions.

Watching TV.
Drinking in a pub surrounded by quiz machines, TV screens and canned music.
Attending football/rugby matches.

All of them pretty passive. I'm not knocking them. I'm just not blaming those middle class oiks who don't want to be part of this culture, and would rather revive colourful old customs.

What do you mean by 'authentic', PFR?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 04:44 PM

"What do you mean by 'authentic', PFR?"


Natural rather than silicone implants...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 20 Oct 14 - 09:20 PM

kinda related issue...

oops

"DJ Mike Read defends UKIP Calypso song

Former BBC Radio 1 DJ Mike Read has written a song in support of UKIP,
which the party hopes its supporters will propel to number one.

UKIP Calypso, performed with a mock Caribbean accent, sings the praises of UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

But some Twitter uses complained that the track was racist.
"


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 21 Oct 14 - 02:50 PM

It really isn't. It really really really really isn't.

If Border Morris sides were wearing brown makeup with thick white lips and singing Old Man River while claiming not to be racist, then it'd be related.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolrocker
Date: 21 Oct 14 - 03:33 PM

well...kinda related in the sense of the social media 'outrage' at perceived 'racism'
in what is merely intended as just a bit of 'innocent' fun......

.. phew nearly got too carried away with italics and irony denoting inverted commas....


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 06:53 AM

Sticks and stones, almost a definition of rapper!
The mob mentality of the social media is not a norm we should be overly respectful of, not least because we have had to see new legislation to stop malicious trolling. Whilst recognising the possibility we are wrong, we also have the right and duty to explain why we are right, and argue the case, not something things like Twitter are good at: you cannot make a decent explanation of something as complicated as this in such a concise manner. It should not be a question of "liking", it is a question of deeper truth.

Mike Read's came up with that "Calypso" in the heritage of the 1960s work done by the likes of Willy Rushton and Lance Percival around the fringes of TW3. That was already in and of itself somewhat controversial at the time: Read reversed the sympathy, attacking what the 1960s crew were aligned with, and thereby causing "unintentional" offence. How he could have taken such to be "unintentional" beats me: he must have the cultural sensitivity of a rhino! I think I'd take it further: if you distort a heritage (and calypso is Carribean heritage, descended from African griot Kaiso - it's even associated with a form of Rapper, Calinda! I talk with the authority of the person who put Dembo Konte, the first griot to visit the country together with the Southbank, back in the late 80s - the real credit goes to the Edinburgh Harp Festival, who sponsored their visit) then you take double the consequences. It's one thing to develop it, another to abuse it. His defence is another form of the somewhat hypocritical debating method I criticised recently on the BS track, the use of "inappropriate" and the like forms of mealy-mouthed insincerity to slide out from the consequences of ones actions if you get it wrong. Social media can be a guide, but one must always take responsibility for ones actions, and if wrong, go further than simply disappearing into the undergrowth like this. The responsible solution is to repair the harm done, if possible.

I mention Dembo, because his subsequent work with John Kirkpatrick, the progenitor of Border Morris, in laying the foundations for the Global Village puts the absolute lie to these claims.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 07:53 AM

Mike Read withdraws UKIP Calypso song

"Former BBC Radio 1 DJ Mike Read has requested a song he wrote in support of UKIP be withdrawn from sale following complaints that it was racist.

"I am so sorry that the song unintentionally caused offence. It was never meant to, and I apologise unreservedly," Read said.

"I have told the record company to withdraw the single immediately."


..a UKIP spokesman said: "This is Mike's song and it is obviously his decision what to do with it.

"We do think it is a shame that he has been treated so harshly by many in the 'right on' media,
but we respect his decision. We thought it was just a bit of fun, as did thousands of people,
evidenced by how well it has been selling.

He added: "Were it not for the synthetic outrage, the song would have generated a lot of money for charity,
as profits were to be split with the Red Cross for their Ebola Outreach programme.

"It's a pity those so concerned with political correctness have trodden all over this."
"


...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 08:15 AM

And? Is Mike a Border or Molly Dancer? I'd be hesitant about fixing my moral axis on the judgement of a UKIP bod! This smacks of desperation: and you don't address the other descent of that heritage I've shown above which shows the Tradition we're defending here was one which some of the greatest authorities on African heritage were extremely comfortable in working with.

If you'll believe UKIP is unintentionally racist, may I introduce you to my good friend the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria who is in desperate need of your advice...(oh, revenge is sweet, the Central Bank once ripped me off from half a million...)


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 08:34 AM

Rahere - are we at cross purposes..???

Remember... I've made it more than clear on this thread
I actually am one of them pc gone mad leftys who loathes the fukwit UKIP mindset..

.. which I see ample examples of here at mudcat
in the postings of some of the typical Jeremy Clarksons of the UK folk scene..


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Brian Peters
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 08:50 AM

I'm not sure whether anyone has yet pointed out that the members of Foxs Morris shown in the picture with the odious Cameron (and on their website) are actually wearing a variety of face-blacking patterns, from a few full-face, to more partial coverings suggesting 'masks', 'beards' etc. Looks to me as though some of their members have already taken on board some of the face-blacking questions addressed above.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 12:15 PM

Brian: Looks to me as though some of their members have already taken on board some of the face-blacking questions addressed above.

Yup. And we still got the "oo-er, is this a bit racist?" brouhaha. Because it's a tradition, innit, and you know what they say about people who are into traditions...

As I said upthread, to me it all comes down to whether we accept that being a traddie is enough to call your good intentions into question, or challenge that assumption. When we look at folkies do we think "ooh, ye olde England - I bet they're 'kippers"? And, if other people looking at folkies do think that, how do we react?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 12:25 PM

What are kippers Phil? You've mentioned them a couple of times.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 12:31 PM

Stick neck out time, Michael --

I react by being a Kipper: probably too late to repair the damage that the well-meaners have inflicted for years on our nation; but one can at least try to stick some sort of finger in the dyke, and withdraw from stinking Europe after due genuine referendum, if it goes the way those like me think it should & mean to vote for.

& what, Brian, is any more 'odious' about Cameron than any other Parliamentarian of a party which happens not to be the one you favour? Just out of interest...

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 12:32 PM

It means UKIP supporters, Nigel.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 01:21 PM

PFR
The introduction of the Read case is a red herring distracting from the main debate, as it tries to ally the trad to a bunch of fascist fruitcakes and doesn't really add anything to the case. That he was dragged kicking and screaming into the real world is no credit to him, particularly when he uses foul means "you're doing the Red Cross out of its share of profits" to justify himself. Has anyone asked the Red Cross if they're happy to be commandeered by a political party in this way? I'd rather think not. It may well be that he didn't diclose his full agenda to them: "I'm Mike Read the DJ and I'd like to offer you a share in the profits from a recording" or "I'm Mike Read the Kipper and..." if he even came up with anything before this blew up on him.
As is my wont, I was however able to turn the distraction to a case for the trad, as I'd forgotten what happened nigh on thirty years ago.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 01:27 PM

For those who think UKIP any way a fascist·fruitcake party, there will presumably be a branch of Specsavers or Dolland&Aitchison or VisionExpress or Boots somewhere nearby.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 01:33 PM

.. well as long as you didn't think I was a UKIP supporter...

I actually am open to at least consider the 'idea' of parallels & connections
between long forgotten has-been DJ Mike Read and 'some' black face morris supporters....???


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 03:51 PM

Hi, M.
Are we only then to worry about what UKIP do that is visual? Or are you suggesting we buy medication from Boots as some sort of protection from them? Take a few paracetamols and they'll all go away.

IMO simply dismissing them as fruitcakes is dangerous. I think we've seen plenty of evidence of their fascist leanings over the past few years even if the public faces have tried to brush it under the carpet!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 06:18 PM

Didn't realise you had those sympathies, Michael, and I'll try to respect them in future by never mentioning the subject (at least above the line).

Of course, UKIP isn't a Fascist party - although it is currently in an alliance with a Polish MEP who the French Front National refused to ally with on the grounds that he was too extreme.

The question, slightly rephrased, remains (although perhaps it's best addressed to the Guardian readers among us):

When we look at folkies do we think "ooh, ye olde England - I bet they're reactionary bigots"? And, if other people looking at folkies do think that, how do we react?

I think our reaction should be various shades of "no, folkies aren't reactionary bigots, & I don't believe you've got any evidence that suggests they are". Other people prefer something along the lines of "we're not reactionary bigots (not like some folkies we could mention)".


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 06:23 PM

As I was saying...

When we look at folkies do we think "ooh, ye olde England - I bet they're reactionary bigots"? And, if other people looking at folkies do think that, how do we react?

I think our reaction should be various shades of "no, folkies aren't reactionary bigots, & I don't believe you've got any evidence that suggests they are". Other people prefer something along the lines of "we're not reactionary bigots (not like some folkies we could mention)".


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 09:46 PM

I think you have to go somewhat further than simply suggesting there's some amorphous parallel, PFR, invoking some kind of sympathetic magic to create a link between two similar activities: you have to show there is a real feature in common descent in both. In terms of pure logic, it creates fallacious syllogisms, as you can only go one way in derivation of subclass behaviours - "If All A are X, and All B are part of A, then All B are X". "If All C are X, and All C are also part of A, then you cannot be certain that All A are also X, and so you cannot be certain All B are also X". In this instance A is the hyperclass of musicians, B are folk musicians, and C are blackface minstrels: X is Racist. You have to show that both are subclasses of racist musician - making a circular argument on the basis of the evidence supplied so far.

I also think you should go futher, Phil. I think we're now in a position to say, "not only do you have no evidence suggesting that they are, but we have evidence suggesting they are not."


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 11:30 PM

what !!!????

Don't know about anyone else here, but I'm fairly certain I don't inhabit a world of 'pure logic'..

This is probably the first time in about 30 years anyone, in any social situation,
has confronted me with the word 'syllogisms' in any conversation I've been casually involved in...

I had to look it up... thanks for that..
brings back some memories of long forgotten set texts for seminars...

Honestly can't think how or when I'm ever likely to use such a word again..


'derivation of subclass behaviours'.. 'A is the hyperclass of'

those are good 'uns too... thanks..

But again, not too sure what use they are out here in small town provincial everyday conversation...

This, however, is the kind of plain English I, and perhaps most others, prefere to engage in..

Some folkies are racist, hopefully most aren't...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 02:13 AM

So after all that can border morris persons black up or not?????


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Brian Peters
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 04:52 AM

"what, Brian, is any more 'odious' about Cameron than any other Parliamentarian of a party which happens not to be the one you favour?

I don't usually post about politics here, but since you ask, Michael:

While I'm sure Cameron is a devoted family man and his friends think him a splendid chap, the oozing sense of effortless superiority coupled with the sneering and bullying approach he adopts at PMQs epitomize a certain kind of public school product that really gets up my nose.

He's also not just a member of his party but its leader, so when his coalition punishes the vulnerable for the greed and incompetence of the rich and powerful, then the buck stops at his door. And his party doesn't "happen to be" one I dislike - for all I despair at the current free-market political consensus, I don't think for a minute that "they're all the same", and I make my preferences accordingly.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 05:28 AM

'When we look at folkies do we think "ooh, ye olde England - I bet they're reactionary bigots"?

I posed much the same question much earlier in this thread:

So what do you think is the reaction of most people when they see a morris side then Reynard,

'oh look, there's a morris side' perhaps, or 'oh look there's a group of people with black faces, so they must be racist'

(actually, and sadly, the reaction from a lot is probably 'look at that bunch of prats')


The person I addressed the question to did not answer!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,pheasants etc
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 05:34 AM

"(actually, and sadly, the reaction from a lot is probably 'look at that bunch of prats')"

Exactly - so hence the disguise to protect 'normal life' reputation and respect.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 07:02 AM

I thought we'd spent thirty years leaving that Ye Olde... behind, crashed in the ditch along with Mrs Dales Dairy. The only Ye Olde round here is the Cherry Tree, and it has earned the title the hard way, having withstood many generations of regular pissartists and chain pub remodelling. The nearest they've got to it is converting the lawyers next door to a Travelodge.

Perhaps the answer is for the Border sides to temporarily replace the Fool with a charicature of the polly of their choice. That should deliver the message...

When Cameron was appointed, I was more than somewhat disappointed David Davies got sidelined so early. It's the leader who sets the tone, and people like Gideon aren't breaking through.

The sense of morris being pratting about is a form of social conformity typified by the insistence that you should stay in on Saturday night watching Strictly-cum-Dancing and the National Illitteracy. I'm even starting to hurt that Doctor Who's getting aligned with that characterless ticky-tacky-housing bread-and-circuses do-nothingness. It's a lie, of course: most morris sides are rather useful these days, being very competent dancers well able to show they have nothing to apologise for and demonstrating a vernacular skill of a thoroughly professional standard. In plain English, they're worth watching. In addition, they are carrying their heritage with them, not drawing from it, but taking full and competent charge of it.

And to finish this chain of disconnected thoughts, I thank you for the courtesy of the errant stray into academia as a formal proof of why the "all blackface is racist" are wrong. They didn't get the point that having a dirty face for whatever reason - gardening, military, you name it - does not make you racist, so the only other way was to hit them with some maths, reducing it to symbols. It does no harm that the work done building this tool was completed by Lewis Carroll, of Through The Looking Glass fame - the work being an applied theme-and-variations of the thinking. And that is where the logic used by the critics belongs - in a never-never land where words mean whatever the critics like. JUnlike the real world.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 11:03 AM

Still think 'odious' a bit strong, Brian; and your nose perhaps a bit excessively get-up-able. I mean, if we are going to use 'odious' for someone you find a bit self-satisfied & unctuous, what will be the adjective for Jihadi John, for instance?

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 12:11 PM

DMW, I suspect.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,#
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 12:20 PM

"So after all that can border morris persons black up or not?????"

Of course. They didn't give a shite before this thread and certainly won't after.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,ripov sans
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 07:45 PM

My question is:- Why Black, when

Ancient Britons never hit on
Anything as good as WOAD to fit on
Arms and legs and what you sit on -
Go it, ancient B's

So Why not Blue?

But otherwise, heaven preserve us from the politically correct who haven't an ounce of fun or concern for others in them: and from those who take offence at the inoffensive.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 02:56 AM

Why not blue ? Because it is not dark enough to disguse the facial features.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 03:55 AM

Some sides do use blue, or some other colour, presumably to avoid the misunderstanding and unintended offence. However I agree it is less effective. Other sides persist in using black, and are prepared to defend it robustly if offence is taken, although this seems to arise more often in the press than in encounters with actual people.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 04:20 AM

So far as I can see from the few colour images blackface minstrels had brown face paint, not black.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 04:44 AM

"...if offence is taken, although this seems to arise more often in the press than in encounters with actual people."

I suspect that's simply cos it's rarely performed in front of black people. Have any blackface morris sides ever danced in Stonebridge, Moss Side, Broadwater Farm, Tottenham, Angel Town, Brixton? No? I wonder why that might be...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 05:39 AM

In 1997: "AN ASIAN community group delivered a slap in the face to Granada TV's political correctness by asking the Britannia Coconutters to perform at their annual arts and dance festival. Blackburn's Audley People's Festival said they did not see a problem with the Coconutters blacking their faces. Granada had refused to film the dancers the previous month unless they performed without the traditional face-blacking."


http://www.rossendalefreepress.co.uk/news/local-news/nostalgia/masco-drivers-in-1957-1709110


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Brimbacombe
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 05:46 AM

Have any morris dancers done much dancing in those areas, black-faced or not? No? I wonder why that might be…

Performers of any description have no real knowledge of the exact make-up of the crowds in which they'll be performing in front of. Plenty of black-faced morris dancers will have danced in front of black people if they have danced in the city-centres of any large or medium-sized British city. To hint - as I believe you are doing - that cowardice is the reason behind the lack of morris teams performing in the more notorious areas of the UK with large black populations is just wrong. I lack of interest/opportunity if much, much more likely to be the reason, speaking as someone who has lived in Tottenham and on the Meadows estate and Radford in Nottingham.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Reynard
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 05:55 AM

Hi,

I've not kept track of this thread (to be honest I thought it was coming to an end), so apologies for not replying to those that addressed me.

Bounty Hound:

My experience with several non-folky friends witnessing blacked-up morris dancers for the first time is that they find it distasteful and that the association with imitating or mocking black people is the first thing that springs to mind.

However, because it would be so unthinkable for a group to be so openly racist in modern Britain they are generally accepting of alternative historical explanations (eg disguise).

It's now pretty clear that these explanations are a bit shaky to say the least- but even if they were solid as a rock, why not adapt this one small aspect by using a type of disguise that carries no racist connotations?

Phil Edwards:

Gibb Sahib has already answered on my behalf, but I would suggest you look more into the early minstrel shows of the mid 19th C- after all this is the era that it has been suggested was an influence on border morris.

They were quite different in character from the Al Jolson era that you seem to be comparing with. When performers blacked up, they did not tend to paint their faces with white lips and eye sockets you mention. They didn't wear suits with white gloves: ragged clothes and battered top-hats with feathers could very much be part of the costume- in imitation of the poor blacks of the American deep south.

The music was a raucous and energetic pseudo-African-American mix of songs and tunes combining syncopated rhythms with melodies derived more from the traditional music of Britain and Ireland played on Banjo, Fiddle and Bones. It would have had much more in common with (and is an acknowledged influence on) American "Old-time" music than it does with the music the Al Jolson era minstrel shows- though there is of course some common repertoire eg Stephen Foster songs.

Piecing all this together, I do feel there are multiple visual parallels with some modern border morris sides. Of course I don't think for a minute any of them are doing it deliberately, or are even aware of it.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 08:14 AM

I believe in one of the previous threads on this topic someone from the Iron Men pointed out that their patch often takes them into the more ethnically diverse areas of the West Midlands and that they very seldom meet with any objections.

I came across this guidance for amateur dramatics from the National Operatic and Dramatic Association which deals with the far more sensitive topic of white actors blacking up to actually depict black people. It makes the very sensible point that this is offensive if is to perpetuate racial stereotypes, but the mere depiction of black people by white actors should not be objectionable (although efforts should be made to cast appropriately where possible). This seems to me to be the correct stance to take - there can be no suggestion that morris dancers are perpetuating racial stereotypes (except perhaps English ones). The supposed similarities of costume are far too tenuous, otherwise using different colour facepaint or none at all would make no difference.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 09:03 AM

"multiple visual parallels" my arse! I've shown you have to present some real evidence of heritage, not some kind of amorphous "parallel", and it's just not there. It's your own prejudice which is showing. Prejudice is making up your mind about something and applying it blindly to all cases without investigating or showing any knowledge. It is offensive: you would be equally pissed if I were to come up to you and call you racist simply because you're white and the blackface minstrels were white. But that's not something I've done or will do, because I'd have no case, it's something you did, and perhaps it's time for the soft analogists to start to show some contrition and apologise. They've had a chance to prove their case and have failed.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 09:15 AM

Failed? I don't think so... just not prepared to spend anymore time in discussion with people who are determined to believe that there is no problem with white people blacking up.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 09:43 AM

Rahere - you seem to be a little over satisfied with your prowess at formal classical logic...???

Out here in the real world of haphazard casual social conversation and interaction,
the requirements for absolute forensic proof to back up a reasonably well informed subjective 'observation'
may not be quite so stringent....?????

If X believes there may be sufficient visual & cultural connections between two things
to merit the suggestion that it could be more than mere coincidence.
Then surely that is valid enough for X to introduce the idea for consideration in an informal discussion...

This is not an Oxbridge Don's debate, or a Government inquiry...



Btw.. I've researched google but still can find no evidence of
a Robertsons Jam Golly dressed as a Morris man...
.. for what it's worth....

.. not even a special limited edition badge....

http://www.byegolly.co.uk/


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Reynard
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 10:13 AM

I never claimed that the "visual parallels" were any more than a personal feeling of unease(and an aside to this whole debate in any case).

This is quite unconnected with the other evidence suggesting a link with minstrelsy- which has been quoted several times on this website already. Or indeed whether blacking up is appropriate in any event.

For the record, I'm just reflecting on my reaction to seeing blacked-up Border morris, and then reading a bit about the history of it. I hope I came to it with an open mind- I certainly had a positive view of morris in general- but this aspect made me uneasy, and I've never found any of the justifications very satisfactory.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 02:47 PM

@Howard Jones

no, not "cowardice" exactly, more a sort of lack of engagement. I say that having looked at the websites of a lot of black morris sides: it's always a case of "the origins are not blackface minstrelcy, so it's all absolutely fine" – that's if it's acknowledged at all. There's never even any suggestion of the idea that some practices and symbols can actually be overtaken by history.

I could put it another way: I don't need to ask my black mates what they think of blackface morris.They'd think it was silly old racist people from the provinces.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 02:50 PM

Perhaps it would put things in a bit more perspective if one of our morris statisticians did a survey of the border morris sides and found out the actual prevalence and geographical distribution of those sides blacking up as compared with those sides that use other colours and patterning. I have seen sides recently all purple, all green, and mixtures, mostly matching their costumes in some way.

By the way, historical provenance aside I personally think they make an entertaining and colourful addition to any folk event. At a large festival they add to the variety of dance teams, if say you have at least one Cotswold, one North West, one border,one Molly, one longsword, one rapper; and apologies to any I've left out.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 03:37 PM

Yes, but taking a personal expression of unease, which is a good thing, on to a fully-fledged expression of a major school of folk expression being inherently racist is an entirely different kettle of fish, and quite offensive to those involved: they're fighting words in the part of London I was raised in. We all appreciate there is much we have yet to work out of our society, but let's keep it in context and not throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you want to go after racism, let's start with a proper cleanup of the Police and legal system, far more needful than Border Morris!
I'm not a morrisman, but a historian with some interest in various undertones of the culture inside the Hapsburgs, which is where some of the Morris tradition comes from. I work in Arabic esoteric texts of the 10th and 11th century which laid the foundations of that, and none of that was racist in the terms now described. There was huge ignorance, and more than a bit of typecasting, and huge amount of religiously-based racism, but also a tolerance not massively different from the level of social interaction we are starting to experience now. Find the parallels between the WWII military and the Crusader military, and the social integration then and now, and we may spare ourselves the problems which followed, for example when Brabant set about the remains of the Angevins after Bouvines (think UKIP launching a Crusade against Europe's Arabs). It was called the Albigensian Crusade.
What I think we have shown is that there's blacking up and blacking up. If you want to do it to abuse people whose ancestors came from a different continent in the context of the Imperial policy of riding roughshod over them for sheer greed (and I'm not thinking just of the UK here, but most of Western Europe in the second half of the 19th Century), then you are engaged in what is almost certainly a criminal offence. But if you want to do it to maintain a folk tradition which predates blackface minstrelsy and with which some of the greatest scholars of the African heritage have absolutely no problems with, then you're engaged in something which has nothing at all to do with the former, please continue. Otherwise, where will you end? Stopping women using mascara because it can run and streak their faces? Barring coal-mining? No. you must look at the whys and examine them, and if they bear examination, accept them at face value. There's no harm in learning and becoming more precise in the things you dislike.
What X has to also allow for is to accept there is the possibility he's wrong, in other words, and adjust when it is shown that this is the case. I believe we have done so.
What I'm fearful of is the Chinese Water Torture of persisting in this "mistake" becomes entrenched as truth, in the teeth of the facts. We see it in other memes, and reach the point where one can only conclude that it is being maintained as a matter of cultural malevolence. The US insistence on guns, for example: yet again we argued the case to death, and still they won't do a blind thing to change. OK, keep your bloody opinion, but don't come blaming the rest of us when there are consequences, and allow me mine.
Border Morris is Innocent OK!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,pheasants etc
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 04:15 PM

Brilliant post Rahere, thank you.

Not really following from that, but I think that a lot of 'political correctness' is an algorithimic, 'tick box' approach to racism or whatever when the long-term solution is to explain when miss-understandings occur.

The world is complicated enough without making it worse by over-simplifying.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 25 Oct 14 - 04:42 AM

Thanks Rahere, works for me!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 25 Oct 14 - 08:19 AM

Frankly, if it upsets the PC brigade - then tough.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 25 Oct 14 - 08:40 AM

Bonzo - you should by now have realised some of us 'PC gone mad' lefties
are thicker skinned and have a more irreverent sense of humour than even you !!!

Scary thought - We may actually be more alike than we care to admit ???


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Howard Jones
Date: 25 Oct 14 - 10:57 AM

Matt Milton, your black mates might assume it was silly old racist people from the provinces, but they'd be mistaken. Whilst we should try to avoid causing genuine offence, we cannot govern our lives because people may jump to wrong conclusions.

That way of thinking reminds me of the case in America where a public official lost his job for using the word 'niggardly' when someone took offence because it sounds like an offensive word, even though it comes from entirely different linguistic routes and has no racial overtones.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: ripov
Date: 25 Oct 14 - 06:22 PM

this may illustrate various points made previously by various posters. Choose what you want to make of it. Just don't suggest that putting paint on the face is a custom peculiar to english (british?) morris. And no doubt someone will suggest that these dancers are actually taking the p... out of Abbots Bromley, and border morris costume, at the same time?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Oct 14 - 03:52 AM

Honest opinion, Matt: which of these pictures looks more like "silly old racist people from the provinces"?

black

white

(I'm not suggesting for a moment that either one of those groups is made up of racists - just making a suggestion about where that reaction may be coming from.)


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 26 Oct 14 - 05:38 AM

I come back to my point, though, as we still don't seem to have passed the point of superficiality. It's not what's on the surface, but underneath, which makes the racist. It is possible a blackface dancer could also be a racist, but that's because the racist is attempting to hijack the tradition to his own nefarious ends. It's far more likely he won't be, because blacking-up requires a certain self-examination. Neither have anything to do with the tradition, which I think we have shown is NOT racist, for all that there is a superficial similarity. You have got to look deeper, and start from a presumtion of innocence.
Now, if the B*P decided to launch a Morris side of their own and exploit it, it would be quite right for everyone to come down on them and tell them where to go. Let's hope it never becomes necessary. At the moment I don't think anything on that scale is on the table. Morrismen are people of all different sorts, and it wouldn't surprise me to discover some are on the extreme right, as much as some are on the extreme left. It takes all sorts to make a world, and that can be a good thing too. But if anyone is acting against the interests of part of the population which in the past has been oppressed, it is because they are a racist, not because they are a morrisman - you can be both, and neither, because the two have no know solid connection. And they should be prosecuted as a racist, not as a morrisman, for all that some wits may think the latter is a crime all on its own!

What we should be looking for is to find a world where racism became a matter of historic curiosity, like Albigensianism, albeit not for the same reason (the Albigensians having been on the receiving end of an early instance of practical genocide). We're starting to get close to that, and the entire debate about racism from either side takes us away from it, which is so, so sad. Time will let it build, until we see the man and woman and not the skin. A big part of it is the question of ghetto identity and sink estates, and that needs investment and care in not so much empowering as persuading the estates that they have nothing to apoligise for and should start being outgoing, rather than introverted. The day we have a blackface side celebrating at Notting Hill would be a day to be celebrated! After all, there are aspects of Voudon culture which are exactly the reverse, for example the Ghede spirits such as Sanmdi. Whiteface, French court dress of the 19th Century, that would be one hell of a meeting!


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 26 Oct 14 - 06:01 AM

What should be mentioned in the wrap-up, lest there be an accusation we ignored it, it that there is a heritage in American folk from the minstrel shows, in that Randy Sparks, who gave John Denver his stage surname and some inspiration, had previously been a founding member of the New Christy Minstrels. But there is precious little transfer from West Coast Country-Folk to Border Morris, whose tunes were established before Denver came to eminence in the 1970s. My mind is currently disappearing in the direction of Border Morris dancing to the tune of "Take Me Home, Country Roads" performed by the Yetties. Right, I'm now in a mood to tackle me tax return...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 26 Oct 14 - 12:18 PM

In the future, is their hope for a compromise, even a solution, to this problematic issue...???

future hope ?


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 26 Oct 14 - 12:24 PM

[yes I know - there - f@ck knows what happened then !!!???]


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Noreen
Date: 26 Oct 14 - 04:13 PM

For those who would like to see what all this is REALLY about:

A year in the life of Border Morris


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Skaffen Amtiskaw
Date: 26 Oct 14 - 05:40 PM

Neither have anything to do with the tradition, which I think we have shown is NOT racist,

No you haven't. However, it has been clearly demonstrated that it is NOT a tradition, rather a pretty shoddy revival of one.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 07:15 AM

Oh, please, first time posting and you want to behave like that? Or is that an anagram of something else? Unless you can give a clear link between style and substance, you have no case: simply being argumentative doesn't mean you have a solid argument to debate with. You put up no data in support of your hypothesis, and simply keep coming back to what I posted in the last part of my 24 Oct 14 - 03:37 PM, a continuous stream of exactly this kind of thing.
We've shown that the Twmpath and Cefyl traditions has never gone away, and Border came back out of them again. For you to make any headway, you have to show exactly what in these traditions was racist: it's not enough simply to have a hissy fit along the lines of "it's self-evident" and insist that's all you need to end something.

The 'Cat exists as much to teach as to debate, and unless you've a track record you can put down on the table, it might be wise to start there. Me, I've a mention in AFSAD, from when I was out of the loop overseas even, I worked with Jon earlier this year and I'm rehearsing with another top band this weekend. Ye Gods, those train tickets haven't been delivered yet...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Rumncoke
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 07:46 AM

I had to have it explained to me that a gollywog was supposed to be a black man - I had never made the connection.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Skaffen Amtiskaw
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 07:46 AM

It's immaterial that the original Border Tradition was racist or not; the fact that it probably was is neither here nor there to the current revival of he practise. Agricultural labourers living in cultural isolation in the 18th / 19th even early 20th centuries were operating under who-knows-what kind of conscience or criteria. Pagan*? Racist? Who cares?

For sure this is interesting culturally, historically and in terms of genuine folklore, but the current practise is about as far from all that as you can hope to get, hence, presumably, the wishful thinking that the 1970s Folk Zeitgeist that persists in the daly 21st Century is a bona-fide Tradition, rather than a bogus fabrication by people operating at some considerable cultural & historical remove from the old lore & its practitioners.

* Looking at the names some of these latter day revival niggering sides with all their Imbolcs and Beltaines (see Noreen's link below) it seems obvious just how secure their grasp of folklore is. This is LARPing Steamfolk pure and simple; fakelore at it's very finest. Whatever their reason is for blacking up, to so in the context of the multi-cultural UK of 2014 is insensitive at best, and all the more for the excuses we've seen trotted out here.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 09:18 AM

"It probably was": kindly substantiate. I care. The period in question was one when the bulk of the population were actively Christian, particularly in the West Country and Wales, it is the time of the building of all the Churches and the growth of the Chapel movement. Paganism was virtually non-existant, other than in the rather twisted circles of Aleister Crowley at the end of the 19th Century. And what has this to do with paganism? I've shown that at most it was an extension of civil disobedience, coherent with the motivation of the Chapel movement.
"/Interesting/"? This is something of a serious debate, and some of the people here are fairly committed to their subject. You just called them racists, which is a fairly offensive and obnoxious thing to do, and all you can do is call it "/interesting/"?

1. I asked you to substantiate your claim and you have not done so. Instead, you introduce some kind of neopaganism without the least evidence that this links to it in any way. 1970s folk zeitgeist? Were you even alive then? Were you involved in it? If you weren't - and your comment shows you weren't - then what the fuck do you know about it?
2. "The old lore". Loredy, loredy, loredy, someone's been reading too much Tolkein, you're away with the fairies. What claim do you have to be able to express yourself with authority on the subject? I should warn you I'm an academic working at postdoctoral level in the world's top university school specialising in the esoteric, the Warburg Institute. I meet the editor of the world's top research publication, Abraxas, on a weekly basis in a study group specialising in the subject. And don't try coming back with a challenge to me, you're the newcomer who's got his arse in the air deserving to have it kicked so hard your adenoids rattle around the obvious space behind your eyes.

So, I'm calling your bluff. Hard papers, please, and some serious weight, or an apology and a willingness to learn.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 09:44 AM

f@ck me !!!..... will we now have to submit a CV and sit an entrance exam
just to banter and kick ideas around at mudcat !!!???

sod that for a game of post doctoral bollocks.....


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: Acme
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 10:06 AM

Durable links to good citations won't hurt the 'cat. And if you find citations to stories you can't reach without a university library, post the reference and one of us with library access will try to snag it.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 10:07 AM

Most of you don't prat around and know what they're talking about, PFR. When I came on the scene again (the Net not having been much of a reality when I went into exile) you somehow put up with me, and still do. We all sometimes talk ballocks, but rarely coming in on the end of an extensive thread and coming up with such a load of monkey-nuts as that. And when we do, the robustness shows.
OK, so I have done a shedload and I occasionally forget to wind it back. But when someone comes sailing in with such a load of scat, and hands me a fan, it would be downright churlish not to ensure it is dispensed widely, if only as an environmental move to ensure it degrades into its raw materials as rapidly as possible.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Skaffen Amtiskaw
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 10:22 AM

And what has this to do with paganism?

Nothing. I was just pointing out that the names of some of these latter-day so-called Border Morris sides on Norreen's link below would indicate a certain bias, as you would have realised if you'd bothered to read my post.

You just called them racists, which is a fairly offensive and obnoxious thing to do, and all you can do is call it "/interesting/"?

Did I call them racist? I said it was, at best, insensitive to the multi-cultural condition of the UK in 2014. Racist is as racist does though. I'd say the truly obnoxious thing here is blacking-up and using some bollox folkloric excuse to justify it as seems to the Official Position on such matters these days.

And what I said was interesting was the old stuff, the old lore - nothing to do with Tolkien, rather the real old thing itself, long dead, as oppose to the hobbyist shite we're on about here and that you in all your academic huff 'n' puff (wholly irrelevant here by the way; Mudcat is a commonlore free-for-all-&-leave-your-damn-qualifications-at-the-door-for-pity's-sake kinda place) seem have mistaken for being something other than fake revivalism.

then what the fuck do you know about it?

All you really need is to know is just how dumb it is to black-up your face and get upset when someone calls you a racist for doing so. What other reasons can there be? How much else is there to know? How well up must one be on 21st Century Morris-lore and the bogus assumptions that apologists (such as yourself) see as adequate justification? Life's too short, mate. The medium is the message.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 10:50 AM

Rahere - Knowledge is power - absolutely, no arguing with that....

.... but no one likes a show off, or a bully...

ok.. fair enough.. you got exasperated and reached for the heavy weapons.. that's understandable.. no big deal..

So step back from the conflict, unload the qualifications & credentials, put them back in the case, lock it securely...

My mrs has an MA, but she don't brag about it whenever we're rowing about who's turn it is to nip out to the corner shop,
or take the recycle bins out in the rain...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Skaffen Amtiskaw
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 11:18 AM

For the record, I've been in on this discussion since the 14th October 2.26pm but got so depressed by the utter bogusness of the Orthodox position that I quit both it, Mudcat and the folkscene (of which I've been an occasional member since 1973, aged 11) on 20th October 8.59am. My return as GUEST, Skaffen Amtiskaw (not an anagram, of course) yesterday was prompted by too much Fursty Ferret on my part & too much huff, puff 'n' bluster on GUEST, Rahere's.

I must admit, it's been more fun than I thought today, but alas I must stand my earlier position. Thus do I repeat...

Offski - Sedayne!

(With the proviso that if Rahere comes up with anything worth responding to I'll be back as Skaffen Amtiskaw, but don't hold your breath...)


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 11:41 AM

Sedayne - please don't bugger off in a principled despair for too long..

There's few enough really interesting 'post discovery of electricity' musicians here as it is...

We need every last ally in the stand against those who regard dabbling with a Telecaster or vintage Korg synth
as darkest heresy and witchcraft....


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 11:53 AM

Rumour has it the role of the Prime Minister's bodyguard is being reevaluated - by his daughter Florence.


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 12:02 PM

Look again at the pic; and determine, please, what symbolism can be extrapolated from the fact that, in the background, a 'normal' Morris side can be descried, dancing outside a shop called "Shoe Zone"? Surely it must have some most profound application to something-or-other... Shoe fetishism? Existential bootlessness? ......

Heigh-ho. Think I'll go back to bed....


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 12:20 PM

MGM·Lion - Semiotics was a prevailing academic fad when I was an under/post grad student though the 80s to early 90s...

That single photo is so full to the brim of heavy loaded signifiers
a 4000 word end of term essay wouldn't even do justice to it...

Thank f@ck I gave all that up before risking my brain permanently imploding......


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Skaffen Amtiskaw
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 12:24 PM

Shoes - oo-er - lots of fertility associations there, Michael. Where does one start? But - Shoe Zone? Gives me the tingles just thinking about it...

*

Okay, PFR! My thang is the revelation of utter ancientness via electrical means. Here's the latest just now by way of - er pertinent hauntology:

Hermione Harvestman - Craft : Work 1976


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 12:29 PM

I've always thought that, etymologically, 'semiotic' ought to mean 'only having one ear'...


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Subject: RE: Black-faced Morris dancers
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 12:36 PM

Surely it's halfway to idiotic on a dictatorial scale?


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