Tuesday, August 4, 2015

2015 OSV Clothing AAR

OK gang, let's talk!  Clothing standards love 'em or hate 'em -- for a truly first rate event they are absolutely necessary.  I'm not talking guidelines either,  I'm talking enforceable standards where there are consequences for non-compliance.  Sounds a bit harsh I know, but standards are like puppy training, you have to stay with it, be persistent, and reward good behavior to achieve long term results.

Truth be told, I love attending the OSV event.  The staff there is so accommodating and friendly, the site beautiful, the visitors are curious and engaged.  Best of all I get to visit with friends and meet new people and spread the Hive message.  And I do see improvements in clothing, sometimes where you would least expect it.  To those who tried to make upgrades to their kits - great job keep up the good work!  On the other hand, do rags were back, bodices never left, and coats were far and few between.  It's clear our message isn't reaching a certain segment of the reenacting population.

So that brings me back to standards and another thorny issue -- legacy events. Imposing standards on legacy events is incredibly difficult. There are ways of doing it, however there are consequences.  It takes time, lots of work, patience and perseverance.  On one end of the spectrum is the Battle Road model.  Create standards, phase them in along with education, inspections and a little peer pressure.   That worked for Battle Road 2000, but two years later when the pressure was off, things slipped backwards.  That's when we started the Hive to address the slippage and to keep moving the ball forward.  It works, but the time and effort that goes into just maintaining the standards is immeasurable.  And, all in all, compliance is less than you might expect.

L'Hermione 2015
Then there is the Fort Ti approach, who used the "here are the standards, like it or not" technique.  This methodology relies heavily on the loyalty of those who already comply plus you have to brace yourself for the onslaught of the reenactors with the torches and pitchforks.  These are the folks who go on a rampage because they've been going to the event forever, and no one can tell them they can't have their beards and wear sneakers to reenact an actual event at a historical site/museum.  After the dust settles, this method works too and is much faster and less work than the Battle Road system but I'm guessing that ultimately compliance is about the same.

Muster Day MMNHP
So here's where I have landed when it comes to events like OSV's Redcoats to Rebels and other legacy events.  No matter how many blog posts I write, workshops we conduct, Hives we run, etc., that woman who comes out to play once a year with her town militia husband, is not going to swap her sleeveless bodice for stays and a gown no sooner than her husband is going to shave his beard, buy a pair of repro shoes and put on a well fitting coat.  It's not what they are about.  On the other end you have the event organizers who risk a PR nightmare if they uninvite groups who don't meet standards. So you do the best you can.  You go, have a good time, but don't have high expectations when it comes to authenticity.

L'Hermione 2015
To those of us who care about creating accurate impressions, it's time to create new events. I'm taking juried events, where one has to bring their documentation to participate. Yes, they will be small events, and people will throw stones and whine about how we're being elitist and exclusive.  That's okay, there are plenty of events for them to attend why should they care about what we do.  If you want to take it to the next level, enforceable standards, events where we are reenacting a specific date and place, and doing lots of good research beforehand -- that's the next frontier.  Not everyone will be aboard. Though when they are done complaining about what we are doing and they take look over the fence that they, in fact, have built, they'll see we are having fun and may just want to join in.  The gate's always open -- you just have to be willing to play by the rules of this new, really cool playground.

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