This isn’t directly related to a specific event but is a general question I’d like to ask everyone.
For many years—decades, really—the Bread & Puppet Theater Band has been playing “Dark Town Strutters’ Ball” in parades and as one of the tunes in our preshow warm-up for the audience.
Last year in New York we had a major complaint from one member of the audience, saying the song was very racist. I googled the origins of the song and learned it was written by a Black and Native American man from Canada who later moved to the upper Midwest. I also learned that the Dark Town Strutters’ Ball was a real event that took place in Chicago for the more upper-class Black community there. I sent the woman in New York this info and more, and she wasn’t impressed.
I also asked our band members about this, and they told me that they were actually singing “Dork Town Strutters’ Ball” (which to me didn’t seem like any kind of an improvement).
So we kept on doing the song, and this year in New York we had the same “this is racist” reaction from a man in the audience.
Do any of you play “Dark Town Strutters’ Ball” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMHJ8PgVatk)? Do you have experiences or thoughts on this tune?
We’d appreciate hearing from you.
Bread & Puppet Theater Band
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