The traditional Britannia Coco-nut Dancers of Bacup, accompanied by members of the Stacksteads Silver Band, danced their way through the streets of the small Pennine town of Bacup in Lancashire on Easter Saturday. The origins of this spectacle have been lost in time, but it’s possible the dances originated with moorish pirates (hence the costume) who settled in the uk and became employed in mining. The custom of blackened faces and ‘nuts’ on their hands and knees and belt likely resemble the protection used when crawling through the narrow seams in the mines. The different dances they perform are actually folk dances, and the of those, the Garland Dances are spring ritual dances connected with the renewal of crops. Whatever their history, the ‘Nutters’ are much loved and their appearance, dances and music are incredibly mesmerizing and unique.
Click here to go to Vimeo for a short video clip I made of one of their ‘Nut Dance’ performances from the Royal Court Theatre, to see and hear a little of the musicians in action, but I highly recommend going to see them in the flesh if you get the chance!