Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dancing Wellies

A Pair of Wellington Boots

Image from Wikimedia Commons

As an aside, I thought it would be fun to write a short post on 'wellies', or gumboots. Though not as exciting as motorbikes or historical artifacts, wellies are rather useful and do have their respective place in history. They have protected many feet ! I want to give them a little recognition in our Relics and Tales and at the same time pay tribute to miners world-wide. How do wellies and miners fit together in this posting ? 

In South Africa, the sound of people dancing with gumboots has become a popular and semi-traditional form of music, known as 'gumboot dance'. The gumboot dance started  in  gold mines of South Africa, late nineteenth century, where miners worked in dismal and damp settings. The workers would be chained together and were forbidden to speak or communicate with one another. Their work attire included Wellington boots as foot protection from dampness, and chains. The miners developed a new method of communication with each other through rattling their chains, tapping their boots and incorporating tribal rhythm and singing. This soon evolved into a form of entertainment and music amongst the miners. To this day, gumboot dancing has become popular with musicians and dancers world-wide. Who would ever imagine that such a simple, no-frills, functional item as the rubber boot, would evolve into a form of entertainment and have a strong cultural impact ? 

Image from Wikimedia Commons 
Gumboot Dance performed by mine workers in South Africa

Now, when I look down at my rubber wellies, I bless them for their comfort and for keeping my feet warm and dry. I can honestly say that I need much practice with the gumboot dancing!

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1 comment:

Heather said...

Great post Michelle and very fitting for this weekend!

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