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Traditional Britannia Coconut Dancers defied May Day order


The Britannia Coconut Dancers in Bacup, Lancashire, split from The Joint Morris Organisation in 2020 after they refused to comply with the country's umbrella group for Morris dancing groups' request for them to stop using blackface.

And so it will come as to surprise to learn that, despite the ruling, the Britannia Coconut Dancers defied the order and wore the same costumes and make-up as traditionally done, in front of the Crowns Inn on Sunday.

The Morris dancing body deemed: "Full face black or other skin tone make-up was a practice that had the potential to cause deep hurt".

The group insist their blackened faces are a reference to their town's rich coal mining history, and has been a part of the dancing tradition for over 100 years.

The group's dancers are often seen donning red tunics, white hats, black jerseys, white stockings, black clogs and paint their faces black as they perform to the public.

Local ethnic minority charity Lancashire BME Network backed the dance troupe despite growing criticism, saying they had "never seen it as a racial thing" within the context of the act.

The Britannia Coconut Dancers carry out their routines with eight men who each carry a set of coconuts which are used as props.

A member of the group known as the 'whiffler' carries a whip to accompany a sound created by a tapping of the coconuts, performed by the dancers.