The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #161296   Message #3832245
Posted By: Howard Jones
13-Jan-17 - 04:24 AM
Thread Name: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
Morris-ey, I don't expect the ordinary person in the street to have heard of the EFDSS, but anyone trying to make up their own minds will come across it soon enough. As the oldest body in this country concerned with folk dance and song, its statements on these topics do carry weight.

I do not expect EFDSS to give a definitive ruling on blacking up (I will not use the loaded term blackface, which has a specific meaning related to minstrelsy). There is very little hard historical evidence to go on, and people can only make their own minds up as best they can from this limited evidence. Unsurprisingly they come to different conclusions, but these are only opinions, and no one knows the real truth of the matter. I don't expect EFDSS to untangle this, or for it to be any more capable of finding the real answer than anyone else.

However, to repeat what I said earlier, I would have expected an organisation formed to preserve and celebrate English folk music and dance, to have explained this in more detail than it has. I would also have expected it to explain that the Border (and Molly) revivals retained blacking up because it was a distinctive and striking characteristic of the original traditions, and in the belief that it was done for disguise, although this belief is now being challenged.

Had it done this I would have more respect for its own position, which would then show respect for (or at least acknowledgement of) the original tradition while being bold enough to change to reflect a different society. Instead the statement it has issued gives me the impression that it is embarrassed by the whole thing and wants to wash its hand of the nasty business as quickly as possible.