In Parts of southern Austria the safety valve was (and is) Perchtennacht; men dress as anonymous goat-headed demons and leap and roar at bystanders and smash oak staves loudly on the paving. Sometimes a watcher is hit hard by an oak stave. Or three. Or kicked in the balls. The 'accidental' victim is always either unpopular or guilty of some infraction against village ethics and the anonymous injuries are a message to either change behaviour or leave town. Not being present on the processional route (unless you're one of the Perchten) is an admission of guilt and of cowardice. It's rough, but effective.
In England the favoured disguise for anonymous action was always a top hat or head-dress to distort height, a fractured costume to disguise body shape and of course soot to blacken the face. Then like the Perchten the Blacks could leap, roar and smash their Morris staves on the cobbles frighteningly strongly. As an exhibition of raw, furious, testosterone driven male aggression it is startlingly effective - and an unambiguous warning to those in authority that they rule only by popular consent.
The Rochester Sweeps are the modern bowdlerised incarnation of the Blacks. I'm only astonished that some dim-witted, ignorant, naive or stupid hack hasn't yet interpreted Rochester's historic tradition as 'racist'; but no doubt they would also condemn the Austrian Perchten as 'goatist'.
|Rochester Sweeps try not to be scary|
|Althofen Perchten - terrifying the kids and the guilty|