Coco-nut intellectual property

Britannia Coco-nut Dancers

When Maud Karpeles set out to document the tradition of the Britannia Coco-nut Dancers of Bacup in 1929, she was regarded with considerable wariness.

The dancers insisted on drawing up an agreement with the English Folk Dance Society that allowed documentation only—teaching of the dances or their unique tune, Tip top polka, were forbidden—in return for active support from the society. While the mass media have brought them national notoriety since then, the dancers point to the 1929 agreement as the cornerstone of their continuing ability to thrive.

This according to “’In a word, we are unique’: Ownership and control in an English dance system” by Theresa Buckland, an essay included in Step change: New views on traditional dance (London: Francis Boutle, 2001, pp. 48–59). Below, the Nutters perform their signature Tip top polka.

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