A group of professional nightclub dancers in Taiwan have apologised after performing a ‘blackface’ version of the hugely popular Ghanaian ‘coffin dance’ in front of hundreds of customers.
Images show the besuited dancers wearing black face paint while performing an all-Asian rendition of the coffin-carrying routine, which has become a dark-humour symbol of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Howard Chen of dance group Luxy Boyz told Asia Wire: “Our dancers were not aware of the culturally insensitive nature of ‘blackface’, as there is no historical precedent for it in Taiwan.
“We only did the first performance with painted faces because we lacked knowledge of blackface history.
Credit: AsiaWire / Luxy Boyz
“But after our management educated us on the sensitive subject, we immediately deleted all the painted face pictures and videos.”
Omni Nightclub in Taiwanese capital Taipei, where the controversial debut performance took place, has also removed all content related to the blackface routine on Saturday (2nd May).
Luxy Boyz’ social media pages, however, retain non-blackface versions of the show, which successfully recreates the coffin dance meme popularised by the Ghanaian pallbearers.
Dancing pallbearers leader Benjamin Aidoo has also shared footage of Luxy Boyz’ non-blackface performance on his personal Instagram account, though Mr Aidoo appeared unaware of the recent controversy.
In response to criticism aimed at Luxy Boyz, Mr Aidoo told Asia Wire: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.
“We love everyone in the world, and we hope to see everyone soon after the pandemic.”
Social media users in Taiwan have been critical of Luxy Boyz’ performance, which included a cameo from the all-female partner dance group Luxy Girls.
Despite calls from the public for the routine to be cancelled, the troupe has vowed to continue with a ‘neutral-face’ version of the show, which shows them rising up from the stage while carrying not a coffin, but a flight of champagne instead.
Footage shows hundreds of clubbers screaming and cheering as the dancers make their way into the crowd.
Mr Chen said: “We focused solely on the performance and bringing happiness to one another.
Credit: AsiaWire / Andrew Kang
“The sole intention of the ‘blackface routine’ in question was to faithfully recreate the popular Coffin Dance Meme – nothing more.
“Our management has completely refined the Coffin Dance Meme Show to be in keeping with our inclusive practices immediately following its debut.
“We sincerely apologise for the initial lack of supervision, and any cultural or racial offence it may have caused.
“The performance itself will still go on with our neutral faces.
“Our intention is always to bring others happiness during this pandemic, and we sincerely apologise for our first performance.”
In recent years Taiwan has been hailed for being progressive and tolerant, becoming the first nation to legalise same-sex marriage under its current government.
Members of the public have branded the blackface incident “unacceptable”, and suggested it damages the island’s reputation.
Facebook user Rose Hardie Nelson wrote: “Wow. This is seriously racist and offensive. Also to disgustingly mock a culture is absolutely unacceptable. This group should publicly apologize. It paints Taiwan in a bad light.”
Julia Richardson added: “Blackface is NEVER okay. It’s never okay to paint your skin a different colour to parody an entire race and culture. Culture is not a costume. Honestly, it’s 2020, wise up. This is seriously unacceptable.”
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