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Black-faced Morris dancers

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GUEST,Rahere 27 Oct 14 - 12:36 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Oct 14 - 12:29 PM
GUEST,Skaffen Amtiskaw 27 Oct 14 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 27 Oct 14 - 12:20 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Oct 14 - 12:02 PM
GUEST,Rahere 27 Oct 14 - 11:53 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 27 Oct 14 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,Skaffen Amtiskaw 27 Oct 14 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 27 Oct 14 - 10:50 AM
GUEST,Skaffen Amtiskaw 27 Oct 14 - 10:22 AM
GUEST,Rahere 27 Oct 14 - 10:07 AM
Stilly River Sage 27 Oct 14 - 10:06 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 27 Oct 14 - 09:44 AM
GUEST,Rahere 27 Oct 14 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,Skaffen Amtiskaw 27 Oct 14 - 07:46 AM
Rumncoke 27 Oct 14 - 07:46 AM
GUEST,Rahere 27 Oct 14 - 07:15 AM
GUEST,Skaffen Amtiskaw 26 Oct 14 - 05:40 PM
Noreen 26 Oct 14 - 04:13 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 26 Oct 14 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 26 Oct 14 - 12:18 PM
GUEST,Rahere 26 Oct 14 - 06:01 AM
GUEST,Rahere 26 Oct 14 - 05:38 AM
Phil Edwards 26 Oct 14 - 03:52 AM
ripov 25 Oct 14 - 06:22 PM
Howard Jones 25 Oct 14 - 10:57 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 25 Oct 14 - 08:40 AM
Bonzo3legs 25 Oct 14 - 08:19 AM
Paul Davenport 25 Oct 14 - 04:42 AM
GUEST,pheasants etc 24 Oct 14 - 04:15 PM
GUEST,Rahere 24 Oct 14 - 03:37 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Oct 14 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,matt milton 24 Oct 14 - 02:47 PM
GUEST,Reynard 24 Oct 14 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 24 Oct 14 - 09:43 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 24 Oct 14 - 09:15 AM
GUEST,Rahere 24 Oct 14 - 09:03 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 24 Oct 14 - 08:14 AM
GUEST,Reynard 24 Oct 14 - 05:55 AM
GUEST,Brimbacombe 24 Oct 14 - 05:46 AM
GUEST 24 Oct 14 - 05:39 AM
GUEST,matt milton 24 Oct 14 - 04:44 AM
GUEST 24 Oct 14 - 04:20 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 24 Oct 14 - 03:55 AM
GUEST 24 Oct 14 - 02:56 AM
GUEST,ripov sans 23 Oct 14 - 07:45 PM
GUEST,# 23 Oct 14 - 12:20 PM
GUEST,Rahere 23 Oct 14 - 12:11 PM
MGM·Lion 23 Oct 14 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,Rahere 23 Oct 14 - 07:02 AM
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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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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,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: 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: 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,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: 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,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 - 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 - 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,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: Stilly River Sage
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,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: 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,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: 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,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: 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: 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,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: 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,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,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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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,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: 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,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,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,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,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,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,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
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,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 - 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,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 - 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,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: 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,Rahere
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 12:11 PM

DMW, I suspect.


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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 - 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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