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I don't know :-/ But I guess it was the inspiration for Papa Lazaru, with a lot of the League of Gentlemen being filmed in the Rossendale/West Yorkshire valleys.
It's a Boxing Day tradition. The black faces were to disguise who they were when acting out the play in neighbouring villages so they could get free drinks/food and cash without being recognised. It's good fun. The play is always loosely the same, based on st George and the day generally descends into drunken farce.
Turned on the TV in the hotel and the kids TV channel had a load of presenters all signing and dancing in blackface. Pretty surprising.
A few of us ended up in a scrap with a skinhead in a club after he racially abused one of my colleagues too. Really strange vibe actually, I thought Amsterdam and the Netherlands were pretty decent places in a racial sense. However a quick google suggests I've probably been oblivious to a lot of the discussions in recent years about Netherlands/racism.
and the Dutch.
I'm surprised I always thought the Netherlands was a very liberal/excepting place or is that only when it comes to drugs and kinky porn?
would it be racist of me NOT to black up?
Prob should just to be in the safe side, don't want to embarrass yourself. I suggest doing it before you get to the airport, that way they'll know you're familiar with their country.
People get crazy about this. She wrote a blog about how she was uncomfortable about her kids wanting to black up on this website for expat mums and got loads of shit for it on facebook. I made the mistake of raising it with a Dutch guy I know and he just couldn't see the other side of the coin at all. Completely blinkered by childhood memories and the idea of tradition and defensive about the idea that these could be considered racist. It's really weird.