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Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"

fat B****rd 22 Feb 16 - 05:08 AM
fat B****rd 22 Feb 16 - 05:09 AM
GUEST 22 Feb 16 - 07:40 AM
GUEST,henryp 22 Feb 16 - 08:39 AM
FreddyHeadey 22 Feb 16 - 09:53 AM
Les in Chorlton 22 Feb 16 - 03:17 PM
DMcG 22 Feb 16 - 04:50 PM
chrisgl 22 Feb 16 - 04:58 PM
GUEST 22 Feb 16 - 05:13 PM
chrisgl 22 Feb 16 - 05:25 PM
GUEST,henryp 22 Feb 16 - 06:39 PM
GUEST,matt milton 22 Feb 16 - 07:10 PM
Les in Chorlton 23 Feb 16 - 04:18 AM
DMcG 23 Feb 16 - 04:35 AM
Les in Chorlton 23 Feb 16 - 05:28 AM
GUEST,henryp 23 Feb 16 - 06:31 AM
Les in Chorlton 23 Feb 16 - 07:35 AM
GUEST,Hart-Star 24 Feb 16 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Reynard 24 Feb 16 - 12:14 PM
GUEST,Morris-ey 24 Feb 16 - 12:48 PM
Les in Chorlton 24 Feb 16 - 03:01 PM
Little Robyn 24 Feb 16 - 04:24 PM
Little Robyn 24 Feb 16 - 04:46 PM
GUEST,matt milton 25 Feb 16 - 04:45 AM
Les in Chorlton 25 Feb 16 - 06:21 AM
GUEST,Brian Grayson 25 Feb 16 - 08:39 AM
GUEST,henryp 25 Feb 16 - 10:05 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 25 Feb 16 - 10:50 AM
Les in Chorlton 25 Feb 16 - 02:51 PM
Les in Chorlton 25 Feb 16 - 02:52 PM
The Sandman 25 Feb 16 - 03:31 PM
GUEST,henryp 25 Feb 16 - 04:31 PM
GUEST,Guest - Michael Jenkins. 25 Feb 16 - 07:05 PM
Little Robyn 25 Feb 16 - 08:32 PM
GUEST 25 Feb 16 - 08:43 PM
Little Robyn 25 Feb 16 - 11:14 PM
Les in Chorlton 26 Feb 16 - 03:46 AM
Dave the Gnome 26 Feb 16 - 04:16 AM
GUEST 26 Feb 16 - 04:48 AM
Les in Chorlton 26 Feb 16 - 05:25 AM
GUEST,matt milton 26 Feb 16 - 05:55 AM
Dave the Gnome 26 Feb 16 - 07:16 AM
Les in Chorlton 26 Feb 16 - 08:13 AM
Dave the Gnome 26 Feb 16 - 09:13 AM
Les in Chorlton 26 Feb 16 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,Guest - Michael Jenkins 8th Sense Media 26 Feb 16 - 01:01 PM
GUEST 27 Feb 16 - 04:56 AM
GUEST,Derrick 27 Feb 16 - 05:15 AM
Les in Chorlton 27 Feb 16 - 09:08 AM
Acme 27 Feb 16 - 09:24 AM
GUEST,Swindon/Enfield Pete 27 Feb 16 - 09:32 AM
GUEST 28 Feb 16 - 04:02 AM
GUEST 28 Feb 16 - 08:50 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 28 Feb 16 - 01:54 PM
Les in Chorlton 29 Feb 16 - 12:43 PM
GUEST,Ripov 29 Feb 16 - 05:19 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 01 Mar 16 - 06:16 AM
Les in Chorlton 01 Mar 16 - 06:52 AM
GUEST,Guest Michael Jenkins 01 Mar 16 - 07:02 AM
Snuffy 01 Mar 16 - 12:07 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 02 Mar 16 - 09:13 AM
GUEST,# 02 Mar 16 - 12:51 PM
Les in Chorlton 02 Mar 16 - 01:52 PM
TheSnail 02 Mar 16 - 02:52 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 03 Mar 16 - 04:12 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Mar 16 - 05:27 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 03 Mar 16 - 07:34 AM
matt milton 03 Mar 16 - 07:59 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Mar 16 - 08:17 AM
GUEST 03 Mar 16 - 08:32 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Mar 16 - 10:30 AM
GUEST,03 Mar 16 - 08:32 AM 03 Mar 16 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,Morris-ey 03 Mar 16 - 11:50 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Mar 16 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,Morris-ey 03 Mar 16 - 02:41 PM
TheSnail 03 Mar 16 - 02:56 PM
Les in Chorlton 03 Mar 16 - 03:08 PM
matt milton 04 Mar 16 - 05:49 AM
Les in Chorlton 04 Mar 16 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,# 04 Mar 16 - 03:21 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 04 Mar 16 - 05:10 PM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 04 Mar 16 - 05:24 PM
GUEST,Morris-ey 04 Mar 16 - 05:56 PM
GUEST,Sedayne D'Voidoffolk 05 Mar 16 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 09 Mar 16 - 08:51 AM
Les in Chorlton 09 Mar 16 - 08:59 AM
GUEST,morris-ey 09 Mar 16 - 11:14 AM
Les in Chorlton 09 Mar 16 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,Guest - Michael Jenkins 8th Sense Media 23 Mar 16 - 07:34 AM
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Subject: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4
From: fat B****rd
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 05:08 AM

Hello, did none of you interested folkpersons know that there is a programme about Padstow's Darkie Day at 11.30 a.m on the above mentioned radio station?. Just a thought.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4
From: fat B****rd
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 05:09 AM

Whoops! That should read 11.00 a.m. The programme is called The Untold.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 07:40 AM

Listen again (or download mp3) at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06yr6vh


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 08:39 AM

This programme revealed only how little the participants and the critics know about the origins of this traditional festival.

Controversy is caused by the name Darkie Day - now changed to Mummers Day - blacked-up faces and the words of the minstrel song;

Old Uncle Ned Written & Composed by Stephen C. Foster
New York: Millet's Music Salon, 1848

Den lay down de shubble and de hoe,
Hang up de fiddle and de bow:
No more hard work for poor Old Ned-
He's gone whar de good Niggas go,
No more hard work for poor Old Ned-
He's gone whar de good Niggas go.

If there is now a link with black slaves, it may have been introduced from the strong Methodist movement in Cornwall which supported the abolition of slavery. However, the roots of the tradition are likely to go back well beyond the date of this song.

BBC Radio 4 The Untold - Darkie Day: Michael and the Mummers

Grace Dent presents untold stories of 21st century Britain. Young black film director Michael Jenkins is making a film about Padstow's Darkie Day. It's a long standing tradition where local residents black up their faces and process through the streets singing and dancing. The locals are defensive about their celebration which is part of their Cornish identity.

Despite what outsiders think they say it has no racial overtones, but they did change the name to Mummers Day after complaints prompted MP Diane Abbott to call for the festival to be stopped. As a young Black British man Michael wants to experience it for himself and capture it on film.

Will any of the town's residents accept his invitation to sit down and have an honest conversation with him about Darkie Day's origins and meaning? Is political correctness making it worse? This is a story where modern Britain meets medieval history in a clash of cultures.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 09:53 AM

And here is
"As is the Manner and the Custom: Identity and Folk Tradition in Cornwall."
PhD thesis - Merv Davey

More comments on

Darkie Day Trivia
 & > Most Popular Posts


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 03:17 PM

So, it absolutely has no origin or connection with Blackface Minstrelsy that grew up in the US in the 19C and swept through Music Halls and into all manner of local events in which white people blacked up and sang things like:

Old Uncle Ned Written & Composed by Stephen C. Foster
New York: Millet's Music Salon, 1848

Den lay down de shubble and de hoe,
Hang up de fiddle and de bow:
No more hard work for poor Old Ned-
He's gone whar de good Niggas go,
No more hard work for poor Old Ned-
He's gone whar de good Niggas go.

Is that right then?


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: DMcG
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 04:50 PM

I listened to the programme earlier and admit to finding it quite difficult. It seemed to me that the black film-maker, while very troubled by the Old Ned song, was making a fair attempt to genuinely understand the tradition. The people of Cornwall that he tried to talk to but refused didn't come across as well, but then I can see how they may feel the media is put to treat them badly. Then again, while I don't think the event as it is is racist, I would if a crowd of national front supporters turned up and started belting out old Ned. There was much to think about in the programme, but mostly unsaid.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: chrisgl
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 04:58 PM

A very interesting programme. I'm now as curious as Michael Jenkins about the history.

I don't think the people are doing themselves any favours by not engaging with him, he seems to be genuinely interested in the event with no apparent intent to vilify it.


For completely different reasons I was reading up abut the old minstrel shows before Christmas. The references and language used back then about black folks made me feel sick. It was quite, quite awful.

"Old Uncle Ned" is rather too close to those lyrics for me.

I'd love to heard from the Local Historian mentioned as to what history is available.

chris :-)


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 05:13 PM

The question is did the tradition derive from minstrel shows or was the minstrel element adopted into the existing tradition due to its effect on popular culture?


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: chrisgl
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 05:25 PM

I'd vote for the latter, Mr GUEST.
Apart from the song (songs?) the event doesn't share much in common.

I'd also bet that there is no intentional racism.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 06:39 PM

Cornwall still maintains many of its old ceremonies. Penzance has a festival in midwinter (Montol), and another in midsummer (Golowan).

The Montol Festival is a six day arts and community festival celebrating the midwinter solstice and Cornish traditions of the past, culminating in the main event, Montol Eve on December 21.

During the main event the people of Penzance take part in many of the Cornish traditional customs of Midwinter and Christmas including Guise dancing when many people wear traditional masks, dress in disguise and wear mock formal costume.

Several fire beacons are lit throughout the town with the chalking and burning of the Mock - the Cornish Yule log - and dancing to follow.

The Golowan Festival is the festival of St John held in Penzance each year in late June. Although it is an old tradition, it was not practiced in the area until 1991 when a group of artists and local schools revived the celebration in order to remember the local area heritage. The festival is ten days long, culminating in the Mazey weekend and notably Mazey Day on the Saturday.

Golowan was one of the last midsummer festivals practiced in Cornwall. In the 1890s, the Penzance government outlawed the festival due to the rising insurance premiums for the town's business community. Traditionally, the town's streets were lined with burning tar barrels which were paraded around. The surrounding hills had bonfires set at the top, throwing dancing shadows all around Mount's Bay and beyond.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 07:10 PM

"The question is did the tradition derive from minstrel shows or was the minstrel element adopted into the existing tradition due to its effect on popular culture?

Well, Michael the filmmaker seemed to admit that it was probably minstrel elements sneaking in. I was disappointed that nobody involved in the programme asked the obvious logical next question; why don't they therefore excise those minstrel elements? If they weren't part of the original tradition, it's surely no loss.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 04:18 AM

Hey Matt Milton that's one of the sharpest questions anybody has asked on this topic. Thanks you:

"nobody involved in the programme asked the obvious logical next question; why don't they therefore excise those minstrel elements? If they weren't part of the original tradition, it's surely no loss. "

One of the features of amateur folklore is cherry picking of odd bits of 'history' then stitching the cherries together in an attempt to tell some king of non-historical story. The Britannia Coconut Dancers are a tremendous sight to see and an impressive survival of a dance but: what they put on their website

Here

Is a good example of the cherry picking practice although where the cherries come from is anybodies guess.

Yes, I know their is no racist intent in any of this but can we just go for the honest recognition that 'Blackface' in 19C English Folk Arts is almost certainly associated with carnivals influenced by Blackface Minstrelsy from the US into UK Music Hall?


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: DMcG
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 04:35 AM

One of the sharpest points in the programme came from the guy pointing out the difference between when a morris side (for example) decides for themselves to switch to using green face-paint instead of blacking up, and when an external body tells them to.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 05:28 AM

Morris is a fine old tradition. It almost certainly started as a courtly entertainment which escaped into the countryside and has been kept alive for hundreds of years by mostly but not exclusively agricultural working people.

That seems to me to be an amazing tradition and well worth supporting and celebrating. But if you cruise Morris websites, some of which go back as far as 1998, you find the usually tripe about pagans, fertility and pre-christian roots.

People should say and do what they like, but please try and respect the difference between fact and fiction

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 06:31 AM

Les in Chorlton; Yes, I know their is no racist intent in any of this but can we just go for the honest recognition that 'Blackface' in 19C English Folk Arts is almost certainly associated with carnivals influenced by Blackface Minstrelsy from the US into UK Music Hall?

Was 'blackface' introduced from the minstrel fashion? Or did 'blackface' exist already, to be reinforced by the minstrel fashion?

And remember the extraordinary popularity of the Black and White Minstrel Show that ran on BBC television from 1958 to 1978. In 1961, it won a Golden Rose at Montreux for best light entertainment programme. And by 1964, the show was achieving viewing figures of 21 million.

The show's premise began to be seen as offensive on account of its portrayal of blacked-up characters behaving in a stereotypical manner and a petition against it was received by the BBC in 1967. In 1969, due to continuing accusations of racism, Music Music Music, a spin-off series in which the minstrels appeared without their blackface make-up, replaced The Black and White Minstrel Show. It failed badly, was cancelled after 10 episodes and the Black and White Minstrel Show returned to win back viewers.

The first three albums of songs (1960?1962) all did extremely well - the first of these became the first album in UK album sales history to pass 100,000 sales.

The Minstrels also had a theatrical show produced by Robert Luff which ran at the Victoria Palace Theatre for 6,477 performances from 1962 to 1972. It established itself in The Guinness Book of Records as the stage show seen by the largest number of people. The show then toured in summer until 1987.

Source; Wikipedia

Britain - and London in particular - was changing. The Empire Windrush arrived from the Caribbean at Tilbury in 1948. Very few of the migrants then intended to stay in Britain for more than a few years. However, from the 1950s into the 1960s there was a mass migration of workers from all over the English-speaking Caribbean, particularly Jamaica, who settled in Britain.

These immigrants were invited to fill labour requirements in London's hospitals, transportation venues and railway development. In 1962, the Commonwealth Immigrants Act was passed in Britain, with further legislation in 1968, 1971 and 1981, that severely restricted the entry of black immigrants into Britain.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 07:35 AM

Thanks henryp, I don't doubt what you have said. The B & W Minstrels were extremely popular as were loads of racist and misogynistic comedians. And as we all know Lenny Henry took part in the B&W MS.

This has nothing to do with the effect on English Folk Arts in the 19C, as I feel sure you know. I can only say this again:

"I know their is no racist intent in any of this but can we just go for the honest recognition that 'Blackface' in 19C English Folk Arts is almost certainly associated with carnivals influenced by Blackface Minstrelsy from the US into UK Music Hall?

Was 'blackface' introduced from the minstrel fashion? Or did 'blackface' exist already, to be reinforced by the minstrel fashion?

Well on balance the effect of "the minstrel fashion" seems to far out way the vestiges of blacking up for mumming purposes, don't you?


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Hart-Star
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 10:21 AM

An aspect from a Cornish perspective which is touched on in the programme is the problems which arise when local folk can no longer afford to live in Padstow - which has a direct impact on the May Day 'Obby Oss as well. If people from outside (i.e.England) either as second-home owners or visitors ,as well as Diane Abbott MP start criticising from a distance, it isn't surprising that the local folk feel under threat and clam up as a result. Cornwall as a whole has experienced massive emigration of its population , and little immigration, apart from those buying homes in retirement.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Reynard
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 12:14 PM

Sadly I found even the most level-headed academic voice in this programme (Merv Davey) to be a bit disingenuous when he suggested that the singing of the clearly racist song "Uncle Ned" was not a normal part of Darkie Day but only a reaction to outsider interference and an expression of disenfranchisement.

I'm not saying there's no element of truth to that in that it does serve as a way of saying "F- You" to outsiders, PC and every aspect of modernity that causes people hardship, but he was clearly biased and trying to present the event as intrinsically benign and that it in any case be just "left alone".

Isn't the real issue basically that when there were few black people in Britain there was no-one around to be offended by these traditions, and people simply resent having to alter their practices because that's now changed?


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 12:48 PM

I think some peoples' fascination with Black Face Minstrelsy leads them to unlikely associations.

Music Hall was to be found in the big cities and very few rural workers ever went there.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 03:01 PM

With all due respect:

Subject: RE: Bacup Nuters and Racism
From: Lynn W - PM
Date: 24 Apr 14 - 09:21 PM

There are many references in nineteenth century newspapers to "cocoa nut" dances being performed as part of theatrical or musical entertainments. There are references to the performers being blacked up and using the coconuts as castanets. I believe the original ones were intended as copies of East Indies dances but I don't have the reference for that to hand at the moment. Here is an extract from Home News section of the Bradford Observer November 22 1838-
"The Chiarini Family, in their admirable Cocoa-Nut Dance, seem likely to become as popular here as they were at Halifax. The following is copied from the Halifax paper. "The Cocoa-Nut Dance has now been performed four weeks, and it appears likely to run another four - it is a most decided hit. At every street corner in Halifax, and in every bye lane in the country, young men and children may be observed imitating the grotesque features of the Cocoa-Nut Ballet, and it is ten to one that out of 20 lads whom you meet whistling in the streets, 19 have the Cocoa-Nut tune in their mouths.""

Cornwall is not on another continent is it?

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Little Robyn
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 04:24 PM

This has been argued about


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Little Robyn
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 04:46 PM

oops, wrong button.
This has been argued about here, over the years
and the main difference now seems to be that the person who ventured to Padstow and tried to engage the locals and ask why, is a gentleman with a dark skin. I suspect that the locals don't really know the history behind it but there's a lot of invented 'folklore' and maybe some of them really do believe what they're told. I'm guessing that, after the previous controversy, they're on the defensive when outsiders question them about it and maybe someone deliberately played that 'good darkies' song, which seems to be a Stephen Foster song.
Cats has posted some knowledgeable answers, in threads from 2005 and 2007.
I personally think that blacking up wasn't part of a Padstow tradition until the 20th C when Minstrel shows and music halls were popular. Someone introduced a banjo into the Mayday band (there are some old photos showing this)and then dressed up to match it.
Mike Waterson sang a cleaned up version of the offensive song, about a dog named Bellman - 'he's gone where the good doggies go'.

Robyn


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 04:45 AM

It's pretty clear that nobody is 100% sure about the origins. So to get "defensive" about it is a bit rich. I think that's why so many people have little sympathy with blacked-up dancers. Given the context (horrific period of history), any dancer ought to be going the extra mile, going out of their way to explain themselves, trying to forge links with the very people who would be most likely to offended, making it abundantly clear on their websites, on their publicity material, shouting from the parapet that, although they might look like racists, they're not. But they don't do that. Baffling. So the most charitable thing you'd conclude is that they're all a bit blasé about other people's suffering.

Personally, if it transpired that an aspect of something artistic that I loved doing was associated with something I found abhorrent, I would just tweak it so that it didn't, like changing an item of clothing or altering one or two words in a song.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 06:21 AM

Well put Matt!

One of the features of the folkie world that I entered onto around 1964 was that business of giving some kind of background to the songs we sang. The folklore and the fakelore of this process and content was often based on the close reading of album covers, a few books and anything said or written by the likes of MacColl and Bert Lloyd.

This was also alive and well in the world of Morris, Mumming and other Folk Arts. As far as I can see evidence was not really an issue.

It gave us all license to say almost anything we liked within the broad parameters set. Many of us have been cherry picking the folkie world to support all kinds of tripe ever since - I know I have.

Into this strange world "Darkie Days" and the Mummers of Cornwall fit rather well.

I say to all those who 'black up' - yes we know some people 'blacked up' for entertainment purposes in stage and folk arts during the last 5 or 6 or whatever hundred years. Amongst Morris Dancing their is almost no evidence at all until the arrival of "Blackface Minstrelsy" from the US Music Hall into the UK Music Hall.

1. The evidence for the roots of 'Blackface' are in Minstrelsey which 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: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Brian Grayson
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 08:39 AM

I found it interesting that, in the two Youtube videos of the Darkies/Mummers Day parades, one of the songs was indeed 'Uncle Ned', complete with the N-word, but the other was the Union Army tune 'Marching through Georgia'. If both of these are representative of the Padstow repertoire, has anyone besides me noted an incongruity here?

By the bye, I don't recall anybody objecting to Peter Bellamy singing Rudyard Kipling, complete with the N***** word...


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 10:05 AM

"Amongst Morris Dancing their is almost no evidence at all until the arrival of "Blackface Minstrelsy" from the US Music Hall into the UK Music Hall.

"The evidence for the roots of 'Blackface' are in Minstrelsey"

Why would Morris dancers link their activity to minstrelsy, unless 'blackface' was already present?

Minstrel shows began in America around 1830 and declined after 1870 - it's not very long ago in historical terms. Exactly what evidence is there of 'blackface' Morris dancers before minstrel shows became popular?

And mummers are not Morris dancers - although the participants of both may be more closely linked today. Again, why would they link their plays with minstrelsy? Is there any evidence that blacking up of mummers and guisers occurred before the introduction of minstrel shows?

I've seen the Gilles with their white face masks, but I wonder if there are any European dances done in 'blackface'? In Holland, before Christmas, Sinterklaas arrives from Spain accompanied by Zwarte Piet. Zwarte Piet is usually portrayed in 'blackface' - with a curly black wig, red lips and big earrings - and this has become increasingly controversial.

Whatever the origin of 'blackface' performances, I'm sure that there are many people who do find them offensive today. And there are other festivities that cause offence too. Should we take the feelings of those who are offended into account?


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 10:50 AM

Minstrelsy was a hugely popular phenomenon and found its way into many aspects of popular culture. It would be surprising if it had not influenced folk traditions, just as modern popular culture does today. That does not mean that blacking up in folk traditions derives from minstrelsy. I prefer to avoid the term 'blackface', which should be confined to the minstrelsy practice and was unambiguously intended to represent black people, whereas in the folk traditions it is usually less extensive and doesn't include neck and hands or the wearing of a curly wig.

I should be remembered that outside the cities and larger towns, where black faces are not often seem, racial awareness is less a part of everyday life. Some aspects of Darkie Day is now hard to defend, and I suspect that between themselves some Padstonians recognise this. However I have some sympathy with their resistance to being told what to do by outsiders.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 02:51 PM

"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 '"


Best wishes


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 02:52 PM

"Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer - PM
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 04:36 PM
Tam:

I have posted this previously on Mudcat, but it was some time 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?'"


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 03:31 PM

is darkie day very old?or does it date from the late 1980s?


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 04:31 PM

I don't doubt that minstrelsy had an influence on Morris dancing, and on Darking/Darkie Day too.

And I understand that Afro wigs and some minstrel songs are no longer part of the day.

But I still wonder whether minstrelsy is the origin of blacking up on Darking/Darkie Day in Padstow.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Guest - Michael Jenkins.
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 07:05 PM

I have to say this dialogue has been very interesting. I am going to read through it all before I comment.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Little Robyn
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 08:32 PM

Good Soldier, I have a photo I took the day after Mayday in 1972, of a young person (I think it was a girl but you can't really tell) dressed up and looking like a golliwog (is that term acceptable nowadays) and I was told it was a costume used for Darkie Day. This wasn't at Christmas, this was in May and the lass looked very much like the Robertson's jam label.
I was surprised at the time as I had never heard of it before but I was told it was a regular occurrence.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 08:43 PM

If Padstow were in London, or Birmingham. or Liverpool, or Leeds, or Manchester, one could understand their insistence on it being a tradition, accepted by all as merely historical. It's not; they have no input daily from Darkies, Niggers or other characterisations in their songs, to make it a common currency in their tradition. They are simply ignorant (or worse) of the way these songs will be received. And no village in Britain is so remote as to be unaware of the implications.

It is nasty racism; they mean it; they know they could do otherwise; they take refuge in the assumed ignorance of "the folk", and in the assumed acceptance of anything done by "the folk" as innocent.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Little Robyn
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 11:14 PM

Ah, found it - a photo dated 1910
A gentleman on the left appears to have naturally dark skin.
This picture was used in Doc Rowe's book "We'll call once more unto your house", printed in 1982.
Underneath the picture it says "There were lots of fishing boats here at that time from the East coast.....Yarmouth and Lowestoft. Mayday was nearly at the end of their season, from January until mid-April, and they used to stop over - 'cause it's a tidal harbour they could scrape and paint the bottoms of the boats....."
"Not being Padstow born.... they loved a good booze-up and it became rather disreputable.....
These people became more native than the 'natives' on Mayday! One lot even pinched a 'Obby 'Oss and took it back with them."
Oh, they had some characters...that's how Captain Dolly became part of the 'Oss party - he got dressed up as a woman - he was a Lowestoft skipper." (Captain Henry Dennant)
There's another photo from 1910 with a banjo
but no coloured faces. There's also a photo from 1913 in Doc's book (but I can't find it online) showing another banjo, held by 'Captain Dolly' who is wearing a long stripey coat on this occasion.
So maybe the painted faces date from just before WW1 but I don't think it's much earlier.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 03:46 AM

Thanks very much Little Robyn truly amazing photos. The man on the left has a much darker face than hands as does the 'woman' on the right but it is hard to tell in these old photos.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 04:16 AM

Apropos very little, this photo is of the Abram Morris dancers in 1901. The 'fool', on the upper right, can be seen with a painted face but it is not black. It is a pale background with a dark pattern in the centre. Difficult to know what the colours were in a black and white photo but the current 'fool' maintains this tradition in back and white.

I used to be of the opinion that black face was innocuous but it is this very site that has changed my mind on that for the very reasons that Les has stated. Well done Mudcat and those who can present a decent argument. I now think green would be a much more appropriate colour and we could make up all sorts of things about the Green Man tradition to fool American tourists then as well :-) Until the Martians land of course...


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 04:48 AM

There appears to be someone with naturally black skin in the 1901 photo as well as the one above. So there were people involved in these traditions who's feeling about blacking may (or may not) have been taken into account.

I think people deliberately using 'blackface' when they know full well that morris sides call it 'blacking up' are more interested in politcal debate than meaningful discussion. It's a cheap trick.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 05:25 AM

Two people in the 1901 photo appear to me to have dark faces and pale hands but I wouldn't make to much of that. It is very difficult to interpret old black & white photos.

Of course you are correct Guest (why not join?) this is a political debate. Those of us who think it is wrong for 'white' people to black up for almost any reason point to Blackface Minstrelsy as the major influence on the current practice of Blacking up in English folk customs. Yes we know their is evidence going back hundreds of years of blacking up in some mumming and related folk customs but the addition of Stephen Foster songs, banjos, bones and curly wigs ever so slightly suggestions a more significant influence - and one which is well documented across the history of UK Music Hall and urban and rural fetes, fairs and carnivals.

We would all welcome a serious study of "urban and rural fetes, fairs and carnivals" wouldn't we?


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 05:55 AM

"I think people deliberately using 'blackface' when they know full well that morris sides call it 'blacking up' are more interested in politcal debate than meaningful discussion. It's a cheap trick."

I really don't think terminology is the problem here. So long as they are putting black paint on their face, it is absurd to complain about someone using the "incorrect" term!

Many people would say it's irrelevant what morris sides call it. Most would also say that drawing a distinction between "blacking up" and "blackface" is risible.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 07:16 AM

In 1901 chances are that a lot of the Abram dancers were miners from the Maypole colliery. Worth reading up on the colliery disaster of 1881 BTW. Anyhow, back to the topic. When you connect the miners with the Morris dancers you get yet another black face connection. Cornwall had many miners and a lot came to the Bacup area. Makes you think but I am not qualified to comment whether the connections are valid. The late Eddie Cass would have know but I never asked him!

Whatever the connections, they no longer exist and we should move on anyway.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 08:13 AM

Thanks Dave, intrestin stuff. But weren't cornish mines copper and other metal mines?


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 09:13 AM

Tin and copper in the main I think, Les. Maybe not as mucky as coal but pretty grubby occupation all the same :-)

Now, the Sabden treacle mines are a different kettle of fish altogether...


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 09:29 AM

Good one Dave!


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Guest - Michael Jenkins 8th Sense Media
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 01:01 PM

Hi Everyone.

My name is Michael Jenkins and i am the filmmaker in the BBC radio 4 documentary. The points brought up in this thread is very interesting and one of the best threads on Black face in folk traditions.

Since the show I have had people from Padstow contact me which will help to balance the film. I have done a lot of reading on this topic and black facing in popular culture. I would be interested to have a dialogue with anyone who can enlighten me further on the subject.

My contact details are info@8thsensemedia.co.uk and tel 07888654648

I will be publishing an article on the BBC Radio 4 website next week with footage from the film. I will post on this thread


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 16 - 04:56 AM

"Thanks Dave, intrestin stuff. But weren't cornish mines copper and other metal mines?"

Mines were concentrated on or near outcrops of granite and their associated ore bodies. Tin and arsenic tended to be processed in Cornwall. Ships from Falmouth took arsenic to South America and returned loaded with guano. Copper ore was transported to South Wales for smelting. Ships brought coal back to Cornwall.

China clay - the product of hydro-thermal activity on granite - in the 19th century was extracted from the many pits using mining methods reminiscent of the tin and copper industries. Engine houses were a feature of the china clay landscape too. Ports like Charlestown exported china-clay and china-stone, and imported coal.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 27 Feb 16 - 05:15 AM

Many other metals were also found in Cornwall,often as by products in tin or copper mines but also sometimes enough to mine in their own right.
The link below published by Geevor Mine gives them.




http://www.geevor.com/media/Other%20Metals%20Produced%20in%20Cornwall.pdf


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 27 Feb 16 - 09:08 AM

So, not much coal then?


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Subject: RE:
From: Acme
Date: 27 Feb 16 - 09:24 AM

Thanks for checking in, Michael.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Swindon/Enfield Pete
Date: 27 Feb 16 - 09:32 AM

I listened to the programme yesterday and like other people here felt uncomfortable. For what its worth I felt the programme raised issues which showed how we are really a disunited UK. Questions about Englishness were hinted at throughout and also how racism is not a simple White European vs. Black divide. Racism is entrenched globally within white communities e. g. East European Migrans as "white niggers" as well as other groups Africans vs Caribbeans and within African states themselves who disparage each other. The programme raised a lot of issues albeit in an in unintentional way that needs much more research. Remember the Brixton riots were presented as Black vs White by the media...not true. Frustrated Black and White youth together demonstrating in solidarity. Remember the working class whoever and wherever they may be have nothing to lose but their chains.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 16 - 04:02 AM

On the Padstow Museum site there is an archive page about the May Day tradition that says that in the 1840s it was customary to smear bystanders with soot or lamp black and that this may well be linked to the Darkie Day tradition:

"Origins of Darkie Days.

In the 1840's the practice of smearing bystanders with soot or lampblack formed part of the ritual along with the firing of pistols to start the proceedings.
This face blacking forms an interesting link with the "Darkie" tradition that takes place on Boxing and New Year Day.

One could say that the May Day tradition has given Padstow an advantage over many communities in that a special awareness of this unique day makes other less high profile customs no less important to keep up. This is true of the Carols sung in December and the Boxing Day and New Years Day "Darkie" celebrations.

The drums and accordions are there as on May 1st but the numbers are relatively small and the dress echoes the minstrel groups that were such a big part of the popular music culture for over a century. The music repertoire also reflects this era ? fragments of once popular songs strung together performed with noisy enthusiasm. It is perhaps just as well that some of the words pass unnoticed. Where else but in Padstow would the fate of "poor old Ned" who's "gone where the good niggers go" be mourned with such feeling. Stephen Foster wrote this song and any suggestion that slaves may have sung it on the quayside of Padstow is unfortunate conjecture.

It is worth noting that the concept of "black face" had been around in Europe long before white Americans started mimicking black entertainers. Mummers and Morris Dancers blackened their faces to avoid recognition and to assume an 'other' identity. On this basis we can readily assume that the arrival of the "minstrel" idea in Padstow replaced an earlier mumming tradition that is known to exist.

It is claimed that visits to Capetown S. A. by minstrel groups inspired the formation of the 'Coon Carnival' also known as the 'Minstrel Carnival' which still takes place, post Apartheid, on New Years Day among the Cape Coloured community of that city.
Old customs of the people, performed by the people, adapting to an every changing world."

Mayday

LFF


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 16 - 08:50 AM

Not much coal in Cornwall but plenty of slate with the largest open cast mine in Europe at Delabole. And, I'm sure there was at least one deep underground mine although I forget where exactly.

Harry


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 28 Feb 16 - 01:54 PM

40 years before the time Derek Schofield was writing in EDS "morris" was almost exclusively Cotswold, although there were some North West sides around, mostly in that region. Neither tradition involves blacking up. The revivals of Molly and Border were only just beginning.

The Cotswold and North West traditions are the dogs that didn't bark. They would have been exposed to minstrelsy just as much as anyone else in the population at the time, and some minstrel tunes were used for Cotswold, but they didn't adopt blacking up. The obvious explanation was that as there was no tradition of blacking up there was no crossover between Cotswold morris and minstrelsy. To me this also suggests that the traditions which most readily absorbed minstrel influences were those which already involved blacking up. I would guess that the same applies to Padstow, and that minstrel influences were tacked onto an existing tradition of blacking up.

Minstrelsy undoubtedly complicates any consideration of this topic, not least because our modern attitude to blacking up is inevitably seen through that prism. Ignoring blacking up, there is nothing in morris to suggest that it is imitating, let alone denigrating, black people, whereas a minstrel show even without blackface would be undoubtedly racist. Darkie Day appears to be rather different, but I wonder whether Padstonians would be more receptive to change if they didn't feel they were being pressured by outsiders.

Minstrelsy was of its time. Of course it had an influence on folk traditions just as other aspects of popular culture had, and continue to have. I don't think we need be ashamed that many of our folk traditions involve blacking up because I don't believe these had racist origins. I fully understand those sides which have decided to adopt different colours - it is the pragmatic approach and seeks to avoid misunderstandings and possible offence - but I also understand those which take a stand and continue to black up.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Feb 16 - 12:43 PM

I would e fascinated to know the evidence of blacking up in 'Border' Morris before about 1830 ish. Can you help us Howard? Isn't most of the evidence around 'Border' 19C and 20C?

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Ripov
Date: 29 Feb 16 - 05:19 PM

Knights "Popular Antiquities" (available as a free download from Google, and well worth reading, especially if you should be fluent in french and latin! - but mostly in english) quotes from "Round the Coal Fire, or Christmas Entertainments" (1734)

Then comes Mumming, or Masquerading, when
the squire's wardrobe is ransacked for dresses
of all kinds. Corks are burnt to black the
faces of the fair, or make-deputy mustacios,
and every one in the family except the squire
himself must be transformed.

However in reference to May Day (in London), Knight only refers to young sweeps dressing as girls and using brick dust as make-up (or as he says "paint").

More regarding "blacking up" I have not found, but plenty about disguising for mumming, and it could well be a poor man's way of masking.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 01 Mar 16 - 06:16 AM

Howard Jones raises an interesting point: namely, if minstrelsy had such an impact on popular and traditional culture, then why was its influence not felt on Cotswold and North West morris - certainly in terms of blacking up?

Howard's conclusion was that "Border" morris already involved blacking up. That may be true, but E.C.Cawte's article in the 1964 Journal of the EFDSS (the article where he coined the term "Border", or "Welsh Border" morris) gives no pre-1800 references to blacking up. Admittedly, there are fewer references pre-1800, but as it was such a distinctive feature, it is surprising it's not mentioned - unless it was SO common that there was need to mention it.

Derek


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Mar 16 - 06:52 AM

Succinct and cool words fro Derek?


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Guest Michael Jenkins
Date: 01 Mar 16 - 07:02 AM

Very good point Derek Schofield


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Snuffy
Date: 01 Mar 16 - 12:07 PM

"why was its influence not felt on Cotswold and North West morris"

This is only my rationalisation, but the Cotswold and North West traditions were both based on public display - in summer, in daylight and in front of large(ish) crowds - and primarily as a "show". the dancers would be proud to be recognised as they showed off their skills

Whereas Border tended to be done in Winter, at night, and primarily as a fund-raiser. The dancers would have more reason to seek anonymity, especially if the activity was generally regarded as little more than begging.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 02 Mar 16 - 09:13 AM

In response to Les's question, I don't have specific evidence of Borders Morris blacking up before 1830, but so far as I am aware there is no evidence that they did not either. I don't claim to be an expert on the history of the morris, and I am relying for information mainly on Patricia Bater's M PHil thesis which can be found online. This shows there is evidence of blacking up taking place across a range of customs throughout the country, including the Welsh Cadi Ha. When Les asks "Can we just go for the honest recognition that 'Blackface' in 19C English Folk Arts is almost certainly associated with carnivals influenced by Blackface Minstrelsy from the US into UK Music Hall?" he is almost certainly wrong.

I am not disputing that minstrelsy had an influence, on Border morris as well as other aspects of popular culture. However it does appear that many of the contemporary references fail to make a connection between blacking up for morris and minstrelsy, even when the latter was a fairly new fashion and might be expected to attract comment. Bater also points out that Cecil Sharp also never associated the two genres, although minstrelsy was still popular at the time he was collecting. She also points out that Sharp was told by a dancer that the reason for blacking up was "so that no-one shan't know you,sir", at a time when he would have felt no embarrassment about saying it was to imitate a black person.

To say that blacking up derives from minstrelsy is simply an assumption based on no more than circumstantial evidence, when there are also legitimate alternative explanations. The fact is that we don't know for certain. It is legitimate to question whether it is still appropriate in a modern multi-cultural society, but that is not helped by dogmatic statements on either side.

Bater also discusses Darkie Day, and her conclusions are similar to my own assumption that this is very much a community affair and that any interference by outsiders is unwelcome and likely to be counterproductive.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,#
Date: 02 Mar 16 - 12:51 PM

http://www.americanmorrisnews.org/pastissues/dec2005v25n4/current_issue/rhettkrausev25n4morrisdancingandamerica.html

Some good history there about Morris dance in the US and its influence on/interaction with UK Morris.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Mar 16 - 01:52 PM

Thanks Howard, I know none of us an historical expert and many cherry pick history to strengthen the position they hold. Almost none of us can be bothered to read everything that each other have said many times but ok,

1. English 'Folk Arts' have some history of 'Blacking up' that goes back along way - although not in Morris as far as I know.

2. Another quote from another 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 '

3. Another via Ruth Archer:

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."

Looks to me like Minstrelsy is just a tad more influential than early English blacking up.

4. "Bater also discusses Darkie Day, and her conclusions are similar to my own assumption that this is very much a community affair and that any interference by outsiders is unwelcome and likely to be counterproductive."

- Well they are making a public performance and they either don't know or don't care that some of us find it offensive.

Yes I know that in the world of Trump, Boris, Ebola, appalling dictatorships and wars of indescribable death Darkie Days doesn't even get on any scale. But in it's own sweet little way it is currently offensive isn't it?

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: TheSnail
Date: 02 Mar 16 - 02:52 PM

This may or may not be relevant.

Black Act


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 03 Mar 16 - 04:12 AM

I agree that many will see Darkie Day as offensive, and I am uncomfortable with it myself. Unlike morris, it has retained too many of the other trappings of minstrelsy. However I suspect that the Padstonians don't much care to be lectured by outsiders (although between themselves there may be a more diverse range of views).

The only issue with modern morris is the colour of the facepaint, and if anything other than black is used no one seems to have a problem with it. If there were anything which could be construed as offensive then changing the colour, or not painting the faces at all, would not change this. I doubt that using a different colour, or no paint at all, would make a minstrel show acceptable today. However I feel that black has a visual impact which other colours somehow lack. Perhaps some will see that as evidence of unconscious racism on my part - I hope it is not that.

I think the real question here is how far we should go to avoid giving offence. Some take the view that we should avoid anything which might be taken offence at, even mistakenly, should be avoided. I suspect Les leans towards this view. Others, myself included, argue there is no right not to be offended, especially where no offence is intended

I agree we should not set out gratuitously or thoughtlessly to offend, but I don't believe any morris sides do this. However I also feel we should be robust in standing up for our own traditions,.I also accept that in view of the history of racism in this country we should perhaps allow black people greater latitude to take offence than in other situations. Whilst some obviously do, there is also evidence that others immediately recognise that this is something quite different.

Ultimately it is up to everyone, end every side, to take their own view, and that is what happens in practice.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Mar 16 - 05:27 AM

Thanks again Howard, I am with you on some of that. On the issue of the 'tradition' of Border Morris I will at the point of boring everybody again:

"They dance dances they have made up, to tunes that were almost certainly never used for morris and on instruments sometimes invented in the 20C. They wear costumes sometimes unrelated to the custom they claim to be reviving. But they hang on to the bit of tradition that has one foot in 19C music hall racism.

To be fair many sides in The Border Tradition - Bollin here in Manchester - go and see them they are brilliant - use a range of colour on their faces."

Not sure that we are in a position to: " allow black people greater latitude to take offence than in other situations."

More b*ll*cks has been talked about Morris than can ever be recalled - myself included - just read the 'claims' on Morris sides websites. Often they come to the point: "Since the actual evidence is slight anything can be believed" Oh no it can't!!!!!!!!!!!!

Does anybody care? Yes I do. I danced with two sides and I think we have a fine old tradition which is demeaned by people saying things that are not true and sometimes saying they don't care if people are offended. Almost no sides seek or cause offence but they don't half put some tripe on their websites don't they?


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 03 Mar 16 - 07:34 AM

Les, I think I am pretty much in agreement with everything in your last post.

To clarify what I said: there is an unfortunate modern tendency, especially but not only on social media, to say "I'm offended" as if their opinions are all that matter and should take priority over everyone else's interests. In most of those cases, but especially where the supposed offence is based on a mistake or misunderstanding, my response is likely to be, "Tough!"

However if a black person complains about something they perceive to be racist I don't think that, as a white person who hasn't experienced racism, I can so easily dismiss their concerns, even if I think they are mistaken. In those circumstances I would take a more sympathetic view and try to explain to them why it was not racist. That is not to say that if they still found it racist I would necessarily agree with their point of view or change what they objected to, but I would be more ready to discuss the point with them and more understanding of their point of view.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: matt milton
Date: 03 Mar 16 - 07:59 AM

"However I suspect that the Padstonians don't much care to be lectured by outsiders (although between themselves there may be a more diverse range of views)."

I would be very surprised (and depressed) if there weren't numerous Padstonians who object to the blacking-up, and also who find talk about "outsiders" as if Padstow was a different planet, rather self-condescending.

I find the blacking-up totally embarrassing, and it would be condescending to Padstonians to suggest that I couldn't conceivably have grown up to be me ? the me that reads Paul Gilroy and loved Public Enemy as a teenager ? had I grown up in Padstow.

The phrase "the right not to be offended" is, I always think, a red herring in these discussions, because it's only when we're talking about laws - about something being banned - that the phrase has any real meaning. As far as I'm aware, nobody has suggested that the dancers be legally required to stop blacking-up.

I also think it's wider than a simple question of "black people being offended". I'm white and while "offence" is probably not quite the right word in my instance, I'm still immensely embarrassed by the blacking-up and embarrassed by the fact that grown men can be so blasé about it. If anyone I knew decided to join a blacking-up dance team I'd have a lot to say to them.

So for me, the real question is not "how far we should go to avoid giving offence" (although of course, the answer to that question from the participants concerned is "we do not budge one tiny millimetre or even acknowledge there is anything remotely problematic").

For me, the real question is "at what point does someone's professed intentions become irrelevant when they are so determined to adopt so many of the trappings of the thing they profess not to be?"


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Mar 16 - 08:17 AM

Well put Matt


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Mar 16 - 08:32 AM

I don't see anything surprising about people in previous centuries putting burnt cork or lampblack on their faces as a 'disguise', or wrong with people doing it now as part of a real or invented tradition.

I do wonder though, given that soap and washing machines were in short supply back then, if they put in on their necks. Is that needed as a disguise? It is more dramatic, but also more likely to be mistaken as imitating a black person, as with the minstrels.

I don't see anything embarassing in the spectacle. I do find it embarassing when people from one group take it on themselves to speak for another that is quite capable of talking for itself. And don't seem to be.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Mar 16 - 10:30 AM

Hello Guest.

This is from the Padstow Museum website posted above:

Here

Please tell me the major influence on the 1920s photo.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,03 Mar 16 - 08:32 AM
Date: 03 Mar 16 - 10:59 AM

Les. I was not disagreeing about the origin of the Darkies 'face and neck' black being rather dubious.

However, if I were in a group that that did that and was was fed up with:
* categorical statements about there being no pre-minstrel evidence for blacking (of any sort)
* non-black people telling me that black people were offended when I didn't see any evidence of that.

then I would probably be bloody minded enough not to take the compromise of suggesting a change to face-only black. You will have noticed that the other colours are not as effective at concealing the features of the face. They don't see to have much basis in Englsih tradition either.

I think the Bacup lot's blacking is a bit dodgy in origin as well, but unlike Padstow they are very close to an awful lot of people who might be offended but don't seem to be.

An attitude of 'live and let live' goes a long way in a multi-cultural society.


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Subject: RE: "Darkie" Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 03 Mar 16 - 11:50 AM

It seems more and more prevalent today that causing offence is what some do to others.

It is and always has been the case that people choose to be offended by what others do, and more and more, choose to be offended on behalf of others.

If you don't like blackface morris, don't watch it, don't travel to see it, don't give [t the oxygen of publicity.

Don't also listen to rap music or watch the films of Quentin Tarantino.

Live and let live should work for everybody.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Mar 16 - 12:54 PM

Guest:
"However, if I were in a group that that did that and was was fed up with:
1. categorical statements about there being no pre-minstrel evidence for blacking (of any sort)
2. non-black people telling me that black people were offended when I didn't see any evidence of that."

1. In all the posts on this subject I don't think anybody has ever claimed 1.

2. As I have said before to the point of exasperation: almost nobody knows or cares about Morris dancing but I know people from many communities in multicultural Manchester and beyond who are somewhere between uncomfortable and offended by white people blacking up for a public display that has its roots deeply in 19C Minstrelsy - and refusing to acknowledge that simple fact - and preferring to claim the root is in mumming in anytime between 16C and 19C even though they can find no direct link between such mumming and 'darkie days' and Border Morris.

Ms/Mr Morris-ey
"It is and always has been the case that people choose to be offended by what others do".

Really? Well, I guess you must be right. But I don't choose to be offended by for example people telling me outright racist jokes - I am simply offended - and I bet you are too. I don't choose to be offended by for example by people telling me lies - I am simply offended - and I bet you are too.

So that's the way I feel about white people blacking up for a public display that has its roots deeply in 19C Minstrelsy - and refusing to acknowledge that simple fact.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 03 Mar 16 - 02:41 PM

Your problem, and it is your problem, is that you "know" blackface is related to minstrelsy. I doubt, but do not claim to know, that any survey done would find that almost none of the population have any clue as to what minstrelsy was.

If I take offence at something I either, depending on the situation, tell those as much, or simply walk away.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: TheSnail
Date: 03 Mar 16 - 02:56 PM

1. categorical statements about there being no pre-minstrel evidence for blacking (of any sort)

As illustrated by my previous link, (which, presumably, nobody bothered to follow) there is substantial evidence of blackening the face as a disguise for illegal activities to the point where an act was passed in 1723 outlawing it. Here is the link again. Black Act


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Mar 16 - 03:08 PM

Intrestin point Morris-ey - but I don't see knowledge as a problem.

"I doubt, but do not claim to know, that any survey done would find that almost none of the population have any clue as to what minstrelsy was."

A fair point and a good one.

"I doubt, but do not claim to know, that any survey done would find that almost none of the population have any clue as to what morris was." - A point I think I have made.

Excellent point Mr Snail:

1. categorical statements about there being no pre-minstrel evidence for blacking (of any sort)

but I, perhaps wrongly, assumed that this point was suggesting that some have suggested no pre-minstrel evidence for blacking (of any sort) had ever occured.

I accept both pre- minstrelsy blacking up - although almost none in morris - and plenty in other Folk drama. I presume poachers were to avoid shiny faces - as soldiers do sometimes now.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: matt milton
Date: 04 Mar 16 - 05:49 AM

Just to make one point explicitly clear: even were it to suddenly become explicitly and abundantly clear that blacking-up existed before minstrelsy it still wouldn't make me feel any differently about the practice.

The best way to explain this to people who don't share my uneasiness about it would be to point to the swastika. We know unequivocally, and beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the swastika is a symbol that was associated with Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism that dates back at least as long ago as 2BC. However, its symbolic associations have been completely steamrollered by its adoption by Nazis. Were anyone to go out with swastikas emblazoned on a T-shirt or a flag or painted on one's forehead, they should not be surprised to be queried, confronted or treated like pariahs

White people blacking-up is overwhelmingly associated with blackface minstrelsy, just the way the swastika is overwhelmingly associated with Nazism. A white person blacking-up is making a statement: "I am aware of all the associations surrounding what I am doing but ultimately I don't care". That "I don't care" is an ideological stance, one I think is crass, embarrassing and actually immoral.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 04 Mar 16 - 01:29 PM

Very clear, very powerful and to the point.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,#
Date: 04 Mar 16 - 03:21 PM

A picture may be worth a thousand words.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 04 Mar 16 - 05:10 PM

You make a very strong Pott Matt.
Derek


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,raymond greenoaken
Date: 04 Mar 16 - 05:24 PM

Strikes me that the attitude here is akin to that of Ulster Orangemen who insist on marching through Catholic communities because they used to march there when the only occupants were sheep. Why should tradition be synonymous with inflexibility? Orange marches are not academic historical re-enactment; nor, for the most part, is morris dancing. Both are presented as in some way being relevant to the present day, "living" traditions, no? Most living organisms are capable of adaptation: that's why they're successful.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 04 Mar 16 - 05:56 PM

Someone has already invoked Godwin's Law so a catholic whingeing about Orangemen is way too late and way too insignificant.

Anyway, morris is nothing like either. Morris has no material impact on anything. If you don't like blackface, don't watch; or complain to the performers; if you really think it is so offensive that it breaks the law, phone the police.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Sedayne D'Voidoffolk
Date: 05 Mar 16 - 03:49 PM

Both are presented as in some way being relevant to the present day, "living" traditions, no?

No. At best - recreational hobbysim; at worst - reactionary revisionism. Mostly a mixture of the two.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,raymond greenoaken
Date: 09 Mar 16 - 08:51 AM

Well, I was making a point about the virtues of flexibility of thought, not whingeing about the Orange Order, and certainly not from a Catholic perspective (first time I've ever been accused of being a Catholic, I think). Quite agree about the hobbyist and revisionist elements in morris; but I think an effort is made ? by some morris dancers at least ? to present morris dancing as being somehow relevant to our historic sense of ourselves. Like Orange marches, perhaps.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 09 Mar 16 - 08:59 AM

Well, I think we should keep an open mind at all times but not so open that our brains fall out.


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,morris-ey
Date: 09 Mar 16 - 11:14 AM

Or some fall in to fill a void...


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 09 Mar 16 - 01:21 PM

True!


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Subject: RE: Darkie Day - BBC Radio 4 on "The Untold"
From: GUEST,Guest - Michael Jenkins 8th Sense Media
Date: 23 Mar 16 - 07:34 AM

I agree an open mind is needed. This is fascinating stuff


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