AN East Lancashire folk troupe delighted crowds of bank holiday revellers on Sunday, and say their controversial makeup isn’t going anywhere.

Bacup-based Britannia Coconut Dancers performed their unique style of Morris dancing for punters at The Crown Inn pub on Greave Road, and say their performance was well-received by locals.

Gavin McNulty, secretary of the group, said: “We were there to support the local pub and to take part in the May Day celebrations.

“We are usually out dancing for May Day, but with the current climate and the pandemic we haven’t been out dancing as much in recent years.

“We have missed performing and I think a lot of people are glad to see us back.”

The folk troupe has come under fire in recent years for their decision to continue to paint their faces black when performing.

The group use the face paint to represent the coal dust-covered faces of the Lancashire miners who devised the dances.

In 2020, the group “amicably” split from The Morris Ring group after a conflict of interest surrounding the use of full-face black makeup.

In 2021, the group were featured on GB News after they returned from a two-year hiatus.

On the show, the 'Coconutters' were discussed after Lancashire BME, a group which works to empower black and minority ethnic communities across Lancashire, said there was nothing racist about the group.

Gavin said the group has received a lot of support and have no plans to change their face paint in the future.

Gavin said: “The support from people across the country and over the world has been immense and indescribable.

“After our performance yesterday, many people came up to us congratulating us on our performance and sticking to the morals we believe are right.

“It is a tradition that the Rossendale community hold dear to their hearts.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Britannia Coconut Dancers at the Crown InnBritannia Coconut Dancers at the Crown Inn

Gavin said there “is always going to be some negativity” around their decision to use black face paint but adds that it is a tradition which dates back to the Middle Ages.

He said: “After looking at the history, origins and information that has been passed down from generations, we believe we are doing the right thing and we don’t believe there’s anything untoward in what we do.

“We don’t push it on people and we believe it is something that we should be carrying on – it is a tradition we will continue to uphold despite the opinions of some other people and organisations.”

Lancashire Telegraph: The Britannia Coconut Dancers at The Crown InnThe Britannia Coconut Dancers at The Crown Inn

Taking to social media to comment on their performance, one person said: “Brilliant to see you all in action. Long live the Coconutters.”

“Great to see you still have your makeup on,” said another.

A spokesperson for The Crown Inn said:” Thank you to The Britannia Coconut Dancers for kicking off our day and dancing [your] clogs off! You guys were absolutely amazing, as always.”