Some thoughts on kit

by Phil Heaton

Premise - unifying kit improves performance

  • Associated with prestige (Spen are proud to be seen in their kit, alone and together; it acts as a badge of excellence.)
  • Bonding. Team recognised as a whole. Individuals become part of the common good (or mediocre).
  • Raises profile and therefore awareness and passion about public performance – bad dancers are as easily recognisable as good ones.
  • An outstanding/eyecatching element (e.g. stripey socks) gives the team a corporate identity.
  • Affiliation with the roots of the dance.


  • Dancers feel “silly”.
  • Kit not always appropriate.
  • History of kit not always fully understood by teams, therefore improvised kit can look odd.
  • Rough areas of town can pose a threat to the health of teams dressed likes poofs.
  • Hiding in the crowd in inocuous kit can affect the self-confidence of dancers who may just have completed a brilliant performance.

“If you are on your own, you look completely ridiculous!...It's a natural human instinct to be as a group. When you're all in kit you feel part of one thing, which gives you confidence. You all look like a bunch of prats, but you all look like a bunch of prats together.” (Nick Quigley)

During interviews for the “Art of Rappering”, fourteen people said that it was possible to “get away with more” in kit, but this seems possible only with the rest of the team. The mask of the kit enables the majority of people to become more outrageous and flirtatious if they want to be, but only really in the company of other people wearing the same disguise for the same purpose.

Not only does the kit, colours and pride promise a unique performance - this is its essential gelling nature within rapper, and the fundamental close-knit clanness of the pit villages continued. Successful armies have never marched in civvies!

Team name Shirts Rosettes Sash Hoggers, trousers or breeches Socks Tommy Betty Musician
Amble - - - - - - - -
Beadnell blue sweaters on sash pink/shldr navy tr. - two, with umbrellas - melodeon
Bedlington - - - - - - - -
Blaydon white red - black h. white/cable yes - melodeon
Callerton checked - - - - - - -
Royal Earsdon white with zouave/bolero yes blue crimson or black satin stripe/cable cocked hat, lavish costume yes fiddle
Haswell red jackets yes blue yellow - - - -
High Spen white + tie - blue blue velvet dark blue top hat + coat bonnet -
Murton white frilly red or yellow navy velvet dark blue - suit + policeman's hat flowery dress fiddle, melodeon, concertina
Newbiggin white cambric - gold brown velvet white/cable - - fiddle
North Walbottle white cambric - yellow silk violet cream top hat + tail, beard + tache dress + cape concertina
South Shields gaudy bright colours - - -
Swalwell white + red tie yes red belt dark tr. or white tr. or br. - loose bright suit yes fiddle
Washington white + red tie - blue - - - - -
Westerhope white - blue violet br. cream/cable - - concertina
Winlaton white/light blue ribbons/tie red belt blue tr. + stripe - - fox, hat & dress whistle
Wylam - baldricks/rosettes - - - policeman - -