WAKEFIELD MORRIS DANCERS MENS KIT
WAKEFIELD MORRIS DANCERS
The Mens Kit
The mens kit is based on a studio portrait from the early 20th century of a dancer with the Horwich Prize Medal Morris Dancers. The colours used in the kit are the blue and gold of the Wakefield city crest. Starting at the top the outfit includes a blue cap with gold tassel. A white shirt is worn with blue arm bands and across the right shoulder a blue baldrick trimmed with gold fringing is worn. At the waist an "old gold" sash is worn with the "loose" end hanging at the right hip. At each hip a blue and gold rosette is worn. Black velveteen breeches are worn with "old gold" socks. Finally a pair of black clogs, with attatched bell pads, complete the outfit.
The beads are not a hippie affectation of the 1970's but part of the traditional kit as seen in many photographs from the late 19th early 20th Century. The choice of beads or not is left to each dancer and the theme is also personal choice. Some go for simple coloured beads, whilst other "themes" have been bone, leather or metal decorations.
This outfit has seen little or no change in the whole of the team history. Minor variations have arisen when materials have been hard to source but on the whole the outfit works well and the lads like it so why change it? The womens outfits on the other hand have been a little more fashion driven.
Well over the thirty years there was a struggle at times to get supplies of just about everything. Back in the day collar detatched shirts could be had for pennies in any charity shop and even collar studs could be found for the purist dancers. Then someone rebranded the shirt as a "grandad" and it became a fashion item and now Oxfam have a retro clothing area where for rather high prices original shirts can be had. In the last few years I was dancing the trend was for a basic white shirt to be attacked with scissors to get the look, though I always preferred the double cuff as it gave the opportunity for a personal touch with the cuff links.
Caps were another challenge the basic traditional cricket cap being replaced with all manner of headgear running through variants on the sun hat via baseball caps to full blown motor cycle helmets. The team had a variety of styles still sticking with the basic peaked six section hat with tassel, the tassel being found in cord pulls or curtain tie backs. Eventually it looked as if we might have to find alternate head gear as "county" caps were prohibitively expensive, until Robin Bennison got chatting to a dancer at the short lived Oxford Folk Festival. Turns out Oxford had a cap maker supplying headgear at reasonable prices the snag was that sizes were important. So heads were measured the order placed and on delivery with some switching round the deed was done. but how long the stock will last is an open question.
Sashes and baldricks proved to be a DIY project with workshops every three or four years to manufacture new and fresh kit for the chaps. The challenge was always to find the right colour(s) and texture then track down the lampshade fringes and finally sort out the cutters, machinists and finishers all in one place at the same time. Bribery with fish and chips with wine usually worked for me.
Breeches have been a bit of a problem. Legend has it that the first batch were tailored by Trefor Owens wife Ruth using a basic black hopsack type material. At some point the desire to have a "plush" look resulted in the acquisition of some furnishing velvet which was deemed surplus to requirements in furnishing as it was not fireproof. Taking the risk we found a tailor who came up with the measurement for a plus four cut with the outside leg equal to the wearers inside leg; which gave the room for the kicks. All went well until our tailor retired and we needed a new one. No sooner found than this one went out of business, though we weren't exactly filling the order book with the demand for new breeches. If memory serves the next stop was an outfitters in Denby Dale where we found the holy grail of black moleskin. New breeches all round and can we have the end of the bolt for any new members or expanding current dancers? Order completed the outfitters sold out lock stock and barrel to a firm in Cheltenham!
And even a simple item like the socks gets difficult. Once it was easy Aston Villa Old Gold please? Then they switched to hooped socks and sky blue so that did for that. Even when I found the Old Gold basic colour it came plastered with sponsors logos. Chris Taylor was the last to source any new socks though I think the colour was a bit suspect.
So thats the history up to 2010 one thing I tried to keep to was a crisp clean look. Badges went on waistcoats not baldricks or sashes. Sunglasses were not really the thing what was the peak on the cap for after all? Elasticated ties for the socks stopped the Norah Battyy moments from happening too frequently and always clean shirts and polished toe tins. Lets hope standards are upheld into the future. But there seems to be a trend towards multiple badges and sunglasses which I feel rather spoils the spectacle of the dance. Each to his own I suppose.
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