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The Games - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
The Games
Warren and I went down to see my parents and attent the Long Island Scottish Games this weekend. As usual it was a pretty good time except for the drive back.

One thing that is sad is that while the games themselves have grown tremendously, there has been a major downward trend in the popularity of the dancing. When I was was little kid competing (gah, was it really that long ago?), the dancing was always on the main stage and it was clearly the big attraction. The games themselves were smaller then. It was just the dancing, piping, athletics (caber toss, etc), and a soccer match. There'd be a few vendors mostly just selling stuff dancers and pipers needed, some food, and a few clan tents. Now, however, there's all sorts of other stuff. This includes a celtic rock band, a classic UK cars competition, and a dog agility competition. While this is all fine stuff, I feel its sort of diluting the core stuff. The dog agility thing is a good example. I love dogs, and I think its a fine thing, but its not especially Scottish. Sure, the border collies kick major ass at it, but its not like its restricted to Scottish dogs, and its not the same as the sheep dog trials that I used to see at some of the other games. There are also a lot more vendors, though again, its not just the essentials being sold anymore. If anything, its harder to find a new pair of dance shoes or a new practice chanter. It seems more like the Ren faire people have discovered this other place they can sell their good. Again, I have mixed feelings. Its not like I don't like this stuff, but I worry that they're pushing out the folks who might be able to sell me something a bit more essetial, like a new pair of jig shoes.

The dancing attendance has gone way downhill. I used to think it was just because my old dancing teacher, who runs the dancing at this competion, was so lame that people just weren't coming. Well, apparently attendance is down all over. That bugs me. When I was a kid you'd usually have somewhere between 8 to twelve people in your category, and that was after they subdivided it by age. Open would often be divided up a lot, generally into five different age divisions. The numbers just don't support that anymore. Also, this was the first time there were no boys at all in the competition. One of the really cool things about Highland Dancing is that boys and girls compete directly against one another. Of course the men have been in the minority since long before I started, but they were still there. Its sad to see the boys go. It is traditionally male dancing after all, not to mention it does amazing things to a guy's physique. Interest in the dancing has also dwindled. Its not on the main stage anymore... the main stage had the celtic rock group for most of the day. Maybe its just me, but I feel this is the wrong set of priorities. I'm wondering if the piping competion is suffering as well.

Oh, and on a related side note, Utilikilts was one of the vendors. Umm. I suppose that *technically* they are kilts... but they're just wrong. When I think kilt I'm thinking of a dancer's kilt in a nice tartan with pleats deep enough to hide your fingers if you slide your hand into one; I'm thinking about something that is as nicely tailored as a Saville Row suit. I am decided not thinking about the cargo pants equivalent of a kilt, complete with huge pockets, no tartan and no pleats. Sorry dcltdw. Proper kilts do not have pockets. That's why the guys wear a sporrin on the front and a knife in their hose.

Current Mood: restless restless

11 comments or Leave a comment
merastra From: merastra Date: August 29th, 2005 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Nostalgia and being pushed out

Ugh. I feel for ya. I see a bit of the same thing in a different way.

Yeah, that utilikilts thing sounds like a big nail in the coffin.

I wonder what other ways there are to preserve the art.
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: August 30th, 2005 07:20 am (UTC) (Link)

nah, s'okay

I hear you about the dilution effect. I'm often tempted to overcome nuclearpolymer's aversion to Ren Faires and drag her along... except I suspect I wouldn't end up liking it due to the cheesiness factor. It sounds like something similar is happening here.

Heck, a few years ago, we were trying to decide whether to be shocked or amused that the Wang Center sells hot dogs. We were there for the ballet. We decided "both": it's nice to make the high arts accessible and comfortable to all, and really, tweaking the more-blue-blooded-than-thou is a good thing... but on the other hand, it's sad, because dressing up for the ballet is part of the charm and fun, so long as you bring the right attitude ("whee, I look good, and my sweetie/date looks FANTASTIC" as opposed to "tsk tsk, where did that trollop get that dress?", etc).

Insofar as utilikilts, well, it reminds me of something I say to people when they ask me about mine. "This? Yeah, it's the traditional dress of my ancestors. It's actually a little-known fact that Koreans discovered Scotland and settled it first."

No on tartan. (Olive drab solid.)
Your whole hand in the pleats? No. Several fingers' width, yes.
No on cargo pockets. (I think it looks stupid on a kilt.) Yes on very deep pockets. The front pockets are very cleverly designed such that they weight of what you have in them (L has my cellphone and spare change; R has my wallet) will automatically tug the kilt down between your knees as you sit. So you don't have to worry about flashing people if you plunk yourself down and sit like a guy.
No on sporrin. Not being Scottish, I think they look silly. (Ha! The half-Asian guy who wears a kilt calling someone else's traditional clothes silly... ahh, what is this society coming to??)
No on hose.
No on knife. Does "fairly dull and rather dented wit" count? :)
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: August 30th, 2005 08:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: nah, s'okay

"This? Yeah, it's the traditional dress of my ancestors. It's actually a little-known fact that Koreans discovered Scotland and settled it first."

All I can say to that is "Shoooooow me your sword dance!" Ahem.

I'm not saying that the Utilikilts are bad. I suppose what I was really saying is that when I said guys looked sexy in kilts, I meant the traditional kind of kilt.
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: August 30th, 2005 08:22 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: nah, s'okay

Shoooooow me your sword dance!

Heehee :) Well, you'd only have to say that if I managed to deliver that line in deadpan. *snicker* Me? Deadpan? Yeah. This is why lj is great. Speaking of which...

when I said guys looked sexy in kilts, I meant the traditional kind of kilt.

Not to worry -- I realized awhile ago that because I am so devastatingly handsome (not to mention devilishly charming) that oftentimes this causes women to prevaricate. Interestingly enough, gay men react differently, but that's probably because I look like a het guy.

But really, all that matters is that nuclearpolymer thinks I look cute. Which she claims to, and I'll take that. :> !
twe From: twe Date: August 30th, 2005 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)


No on tartan. (Olive drab solid.)

Saffron! At least for boy dancers.
fernbridge From: fernbridge Date: August 30th, 2005 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Kilts

Yep, solid colors are fine if you're Irish. The kilts that the Irish boys wear still look like kilts to me.

That reminds me of something else I was wondering: would I see the same sort of erosion if I went to a feis? Some of the big ones used to host Scottish dancing as well, so I've been to a few...
twe From: twe Date: August 31st, 2005 11:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Feis Attendance

No clue what feis attendance is like; I haven't been to one since before I graduated, which would be, gosh 7+ years ago? I know there was a huge surge in popularity after the Riverdance craze, but I assumed that's faded.
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: August 30th, 2005 07:44 am (UTC) (Link)


There are many aspects of my ancestral culture of which I am proud. The Scots contribution to athletic competition is not one of them. Golf (stupid) and caber toss (stupider) do not set me all a quiver.
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: August 30th, 2005 08:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Heritage

Hey, the caber toss may be stupid, but unlike golf it can be amusing to watch. For instance, there was the time at the Altamont games where the guy doing the caber toss slipped in the mud and the caber landed on the judge.
twe From: twe Date: August 30th, 2005 11:44 am (UTC) (Link)
My kilt that I wore in HS had no pockets and was black watch plaid. I don't think it would have hidden all my fingers in the pleats though. I do have a funny story involving the kilt, a somewhat uninhibited classmate and a young male geometry teacher. :)
fernbridge From: fernbridge Date: August 30th, 2005 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
The 4+ inch deep pleats is pretty dance-kilt specific. They move better with more material in the pleats. Basically if you're dancing propery undergarment color *should* be an issue. Of course dancers get picky in other ways too. Nowadays all the dancers have kilts made using dress tartans (white backgrounds) because they stand out more.
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