A city councillor believes it’s time to modernize one of the Royal City's longstanding traditions.
Coun. Chuck Puchmayr served council with a notice of motion at Monday's meeting that the city begin to engage in discussion with the school district for the purpose of modernizing the May Day event known as the Lancers Dance. The men who make up the Royal Lancers dance with the girls in the May Queen Suite at the May Day dinner and dance held on the evening after the festivities in Queen’s Park, and also attend the May Day ceremony every few years.
“It’s time to modernize it. I think that’s a discussion we need to have,” he said. “I am hearing overtures from people on the school district side as well.”
A senior member of the Royal Lancers told The Record the group wasn’t willing to comment on the motion at this time.
While some people support the longstanding tradition, Puchmayr said he’s hearing more and more criticisms about the dance.
“Two people approached me who said they would not let their kids participate in the May Queen Suite draw because of the dance,” he said. “It’s gotten to the point where, in my opinion, it has become controversial. It is a longstanding tradition, but so was Black Peter.”
Puchmayr believes there could be a way of modernizing the event that maintains the tradition, but also doesn’t deter people from participating. He knows of people who are so uncomfortable with the dance between the men and the girls that they won’t attend the May Day dinner.
“It does raise an eyebrow,” he said of the dance. “It makes some people uncomfortable.”
David MacGrotty, chair of the lancers, told The Record in 2010 that the members enjoy their role around the May Day event.
“We fully understand that the traditional dances we participate in are a very important part of May Day, however, the evening is really about the May Queen suite,” he said at the time. “The Royal Lancers are all very honoured, fortunate and pleased to be part of such an important historical event.”