pennsicdance: Re: garb

Debora L. VanHeyningen dvanheyn at
Tue Aug 30 08:26:52 PDT 2005

On Tue, 30 Aug 2005, whirlygig wrote:

> - the people in the barn being called the "Great Unwashed Masses" and "Dance
> Slobs" by people in the tent

FWIW, I danced in the tent most nights (simply because my feet prefer that 
floor), and never heard this.

> - It's the story of a friend of mine, nearly in tears, told me about 
> having her nicer, all be it not Italian, field garb sized up by dancers 
> she approached during the Italian 15c party- and bluntly turned down 
> when she was looking for a partner for a few of her favorite dances. -

IF the garb was the issue, (and not the fact that people simply didn't 
want to do that dance or wanted to do it with someone else specific or 
someone they knew knows the same version of the dance), then I have to say 
that this is not a problem confined to the dance tent.

I've noticed myself (and commented before to others) that all other things 
being equal, you are more apt to be asked to dance (especially advanced 
dances) if you're wearing spiffy late period garb.

This was true long before the dance tent existed.  I've been dancing since 
Pennsic 20, but most of my pennsic garb is still simple T-tunic stuff, 
since the fancier outfits I have either don't fit at the moment or are 
too warm/hard to clean to wear at Pennsic.  I don't have the time or money 
(you need one or the other) to have a lot of really spiffy garb.  I've 
discovered that when I wear T-tunics, I'll often get people I don't know 
trying to talk me through simple dances I've done a million times and 
even taught, while relative newcomers in fancy garb get asked to do 
anvanced stuff they haven't learned yet.

I don't think anyone does this on purpose.  My theory is that people 
unconsiously make an assumption that the fanciness of your garb tends to 
correlate with how long you've been in the SCA, and thus with how 
many/what sorts of dances you're likely to know.

I suspect the problem is worse for women, since there tend to be fewer men 
who dance, and thus less competition for partners.

The only way I've found to get around this is to be seen often enough 
dancing at Pennsic and assorted dance events that people get to recognize 
you, and know you can dance.  Once they know you as an individual, you no 
longer get judged by your garb.

I still am rarely asked to do anything but easy dances by people who don't 
know me at Pennsic, but I now know enough people (by face if not name) 
that I can usually find a partner for the dances I most want to do.


Lady Magdalena Vogelsang
Barony of Cynnabar, Midrealm

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