‘Til we decide what to wear here are some notes from ‘Thrales’ who have kindly sent us some on how they dress.*
AMBLE: MORE OF A SAUNTER
The Amble sword dance has its origins in a small mining village of the same name on the coast of Northumberland. There are two notations that Thrales have used to create their version of the Amble sword dance; the first is the well-known notation by Bill Cassie from the 1960s. The second is a lesser-known notation by Joss Mellor and Brian Haydon, which came to our attention via Phil Heaton.
In Cassie’s notation, the kit worn by the dancers included black satin “huggers”, white shirts, white socks with a cable design up the side, red sashes and black shoes. The Mellor and Haydon notation gives a different kit; black trousers, slim jim ties, red snake belts and clogs. The dance was accompanied by both a Tommy and Betty. Tommy wore the usual top hat and frock coat, while Betty sported a floral print dress and large bonnet.
The kit described by Cassie is essentially a description of ‘the’ photo. At some point the Amble team must have changed their kit either to or from the kit described by Mellor and Haydon.
Thrales have adopted the kit as described by Mellor and Haydon, exchanging the clogs for the normal rapper shoes. In both notations there was no mention of the colour of the tie worn; it has been assumed to be red to match all other mentions of colour within the kit. Thrales’ Tommy wears a red jacket, to tie in with the red elements worn by the dancers, a top hat and hand-made pom-poms to match the picture. The Betty wears a blouse and skirt, with plaited hair and too-much make up, with over-emphasized blusher and lipstick.
Both notations agree on the type of music: Northumbrian Hornpipes. The music was provided by fiddle, concertina or melodeon. Thrales dance to a previously unnamed hornpipe, which has been claimed by the musician as the Thrales Amble tune.
* a blue sash is one change we could make to emphasise the break with the traditional side.