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The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)

The Last Bastion of the Skirt
By Marianne Taylor

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Marianne Taylor 2008

A folk-fashion note:

Last Bastion of the Skirt Pants are IN for women — for formal dinners, trips to town, school, and church. The bell-bottom, the elephant, the flare — all the newest are seen everywhere. What with the women in pants and the men in long hair, it's harder to tell the difference. It's been suggested that this is the answer to the population explosion — how about that?

There is, however, one place where women should still LOOK like women, MOVE like women, and BE TREATED like women — all anachronisms in this modern world — and that's in THE FOLK DANCE. Most of the dances done here date from a by-gone era, when men were expected to lead, to take the dominant role, and to be admired for their virility and strength. Women, on the other hand, were meant to be demure, to be protected, twirled, lifted, and led. Their skirts twirled and swished, petticoats flounced, slim legs flashed — like WOW! — how feminine can you get?

We think that men still like to see girls like that once in a while, and so we keep this one place for people who feel that way about it. At our folk dance sessions at the Cambridge [Massachusetts] YWCA, you'll find that we stubbornly, unrealistically, old-fashionedly insist that girls wear SKIRTS — not pants. We might suggest even more presumptously that the wearer (and the observer as well!) might be more comfortable if the skirt were just a little longer than mini. (To see yourself as others see you, girls, raise the arms shoulder high and check the back view in a mirror!)

So we're an anachronism — but then, so is folk dance in a rather pleasant way. If you or your friends, not knowing the score, come in trousers, we usually have a couple of skirts we can loan out to take care of emergencies — but to be sure of a good fit, wear your own! We don't make exceptions to the rule, for if we do, we'll spend all our time explaining it to everyone else. So come skirted, all you females, and enjoy being a girl!

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