Another Kilt Question Answered

I just returned from the New Hampshire Highland Games, which is a 3-day games held in Lincoln, NH, up in the White Mountains. It’s a great games–two days of dancing, and lots to see and do. They will have over 200 dancers as well as all of the usual competitions and stuff that goes along with Scottish games. I looked around the clan tents hoping to see a friend, and it made me think of another of my kilt questions–Can I use a clan tartan for a dancer’s kilt?

The SOBHD rules say that any clan or district tartan is acceptable for a dancer’s kilt. (the SOBHD is the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing) That said, I would never presume to tell a customer what to do, but if they ask, I would mention that a clan or family tartan is probably not the best choice for dancing. The reason for this is that the dancing is a show– the dancers need to look sharp,and stand out in a crowd. A dark tartan will make them disappear, or others may be too dull to stand out. The brightly colored dress tartans that are made specifically for dancing are best, although the chances of having one that is your clan name is slim. Dress tartans are usually based on clan tartans, but they use a different color scheme, or swap out one of the main colors for white.

People ask for their clan tartan all the time for dancers, but it is not often that I can fulfill their requests.

My best advice– ask the dance teacher. Next best advice: Don’t let an 8 -year-old loose with the tartan samples, because they will choose purple every time. and that may not be the best choice for the child’s complexion. They also don’t take the size of the sett into account, and that is an important consideration. The whole process can take some time, but everyone will be happier if the choice of a new tartan is made with care.

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