David Cameron poses with Morris dancers in 'black face' at festival

Prime Minister posed with blacked-up Morris dancers in Oxfordshire

David Cameron poses with blacked-up Morris dancers at festival

David Cameron was pictured this weekend posing for a snapshot with a group of blacked-up Morris dancers at a festival in Oxfordshire.

The Prime Minister enjoyed a day out with his family at the Banbury Folk Festival near his constituency on Saturday.

He was approached by the Foxs Morris troupe and asked to pose for a picture, and happily agreed while holding his daughter Florence in his arms.

Martin de Vine, founder and Squire of the Foxs Morris dancers, told the Daily Telegraph: "David Cameron was having a coffee and we saw him and just asked if he would have a picture taken.

"We dance in the style of Border Morris, and we black our faces because farm labourers who were out of work in the winter months would go around begging, performing a dance in return for money."

According to the Mirror, he added: "They blacked their faces with soot because it was illegal to beg and they didn't want to be recognised. It was a disguise, in the same way that the leader of the troupe wears a top hat and is called the squire to take the mickey out of the local squire.

"It's not racist and offence is never taken. People from other cultural backgrounds don't see it as that at all. We have had an Arab person dancing with us in the past - it's not seen as racist."

However, many historians insist the real roots of the custom are racist, suggesting the "disguise" explanation is a myth that hides the true origin.

According to Wikipedia, Morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers, usually wearing bell pads on their shins.

Implements such as sticks, swords and handkerchiefs may also be wielded by the dancers.

The name is first recorded in the mid-15th century as Morisk dance, ie "Moorish dance".

It is thought it was so named "in reference to fantastic dancing or costumes", meaning the deliberately "exotic" flavour of the performance.

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