May Day: Morris Dancers turn blue over racism concerns, World News

This is the phase when people are rethinking old traditions and correcting them wherever needed to spread the message of equality and peace.

One such example is this year’s performance on May Day put up by members of the Hook Eagle Morris Men in Hampshire, UK.

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The dance is usually performed by members who paint their faces black. However, this year, following concerns over racism, the group members changed the colour of face paint from black to blue.

A year after the ‘Black lives matter’ movement took over the world, members of the Hook Eagle Morris Men performed near the Hook village in Hampshire to mark the May Day dawn.

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Their change of face paint colour came after the Joint Morris Organisation urged dancing groups to eliminate the use of full-face black makeup and paint, in consideration of the Black lives matter movement.

“It’s by far and away the biggest if not really the only change we’ve experienced,” said John Ellis, a 70-year-old dancer who has been with the group since the start, in 1991.

Members in different areas adopted different colours of paint this year. Some decided to paint their faces green, while others adopted yellow and black striped design.

The original idea behind covering the face was to be able to beg by disguising themselves, back in the 1400s, as begging was illegal at that time. However, the trend died out after a bit and was revived by a group of dancers.

“We adopted this idea because the dancing is really easy, good fun and we quite like the idea of dancing in disguise,” Ellis said.

This year, the group also maintained social distancing and avoided touching and hugging during the performance, due to coronavirus restrictions.

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