We perform in authentic Bavarian Tracht!
Our Formal Miesbacher Festtracht:
Our Informal or Sommertracht:
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A Description of the Miesbacher Tracht, by Karin Gottier, October 1999
The first ‘Costume Preservation Societies’ were founded in Bavaria just before and after the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. This phenomenon was fostered by two factors:
A teacher in Bayrish-Zell noted that the wearing of the short leather trousers (Lederhose), work dress of the lumber jacks and foresters, was declining and decided, together with friends, to have short leather trousers made and to wear them at all times. His example was enthusiastically taken up by others and resulted in the founding of societies whose aim it was to preserve not only the clothing traditions but also the dialect, music, dance and custom of the region.
The second factor was the enormous support these societies received by the royal house of Bavaria. Following the example of the Imperial court of Austria, where the Kaiser wore the gray-green Loden clothes of the hunters while hunting or vacationing in the mountains, it became fashionable in Bavarian court to dress in the traditional clothing of the mountain people when appropriate.
Because the traditional dress of Miesbach, upper Bavaria, was worn not only in the town itself but also with variations in wide areas surrounding the town, it came to be regarded as THE Bavarian costume. It was more and more standardized by the various ‘Costume Preservation Societies’ who needed to make sure that all their members were dressed alike, resulting in somewhat of a uniform. While originally everyone had gone to the local tailor, seamstress and leather worker, who made the items in accordance with the locally accepted precepts, clubs now needed a large quantity of garments all alike, which the newly developing ready-to-wear industry gladly supplied, thus also influencing the look of the traditional dress of Miesbach.
Today, most Alpine dance groups in the US wear a form of the traditional dress of Miesbach.
The Alpenland Tänzer of New Britain, CT wear an adaptation of this costume adjusted to the differing climatic circumstances of New England.
The women have two options: The Festival Dress, consisting of a burgundy red skirt, generously pleated and trimmed with two rows of black velvet ribbon around the hem, worn over ruffled lace panties and a linen lace-trimmed petty coat. Whereas the traditional dress is worn with a white lace-edged dickey and a bodice with long sleeves over which the stiff bodice is worn, the Alpenland ladies wear a short sleeved blouse over which the bodice (the Mieder) is laced. The bodice is made of black satin and stiffened by means of intricately stitched patterns through which very fine rattan is threaded. The bodice is laced in front over 5 or 6 pair of ornamental hooks with a long metal chain. The ends of this chain are then draped in swags across the top of the bodice by means of ‘oak pins’-long needles with an acorn shaped head. In the center back, the bodice is secured to the skirt by means of a single ornamental hook. The festival dress requires a ‘silk’ brocade apron and a fringed shawl of the same material. In the case of the Alpenland Tänzer, both items are pink with a rose pattern. The shawl is folded diagonally in half, pleated in back and the pleats are secured by a long scarf pin, it is draped around the shoulders and pinned on both sides to the straps of the bodice with ornamental pins. Finally, red carnations are tucked into the gap between the blouse and the bodice. The apron is tied on the right side because it is the side away from ones partner. The ensemble is completed by a green velour hat trimmed with a white down feather, a chocker with several rows of chains, white stockings and black shoes with a strap across the instep. The hair is caught up into a bun and secured by ornamental silver pins.
Summer or workdress: In the US, this garment has undergone the most change, and is never seen in Germany in the form worn by American dance groups. It consists of a jumper with low neckline, the top being black and laced with a chain to simulate the stiff bodice, and a colored skirt. In the case of the Alpenland Tänzer, it is bright red. It too, is trimmed with a black ribbon around the hem. Under the bodice is worn a short sleeved blouse. Depending on the occasion and the temperature, this jumper can be worn with a white stiffly starched shoulder scarf and apron and green hat, or just with apron and sometimes even without petty-coat.
Festival Dress for Men: The basic dress for men consists of a pair of knee length leather shorts, closed in front with a ‘broad fall’ (similar to the closing on sailor pants) and held up by ornately embroidered suspenders. The trousers are embroidered in designs of oak leaves and similar Alpine motifs. The choice of the embroidery color is regional specific from green to yellow or a yellowish green. The trousers also have a small pocket in the side seam just above the knee for a knife with deer antler handle. While traditionally the choice of embroidery or trim on the suspenders was up to the individual, clubs usually agree on a pattern and are often limited to the offering of the supplier. The cross section of the suspenders usually is decorated with an embroidery motif or an intricately carved medallion. With this ensemble is worn a long sleeved white shirt (never short sleeved). Over shirt and suspenders comes a green vest with a horseshoe shaped neckline that allows one to see the medallion on the suspenders. Around the neck is worn a wide, short tie in club colors with an embroidery of Alpine flowers. The round green felt or velour hat also carries a white feather. While some groups wear short knitted socks without feet that just cover the calves, the Alpenland Tänzer wear knee socks. Possible colors are white or gray with green embroidery.
The pride of every plattler is the watch chain that is suspended across the vest and decorated with silver pendants in a variety of motifs (German: Chari-vari -ed.). For formal occasions, men wear short gray Loden jackets trimmed with green and closed with deer antler buttons. The black laced shoes feature a curved, somewhat higher heel. Shoes with low heel and side closing are also possible but not often worn for dancing.
Work or Summer Dress: In the summer time, when temperatures soar, the men of the group wear red-white checkered cotton shirts and no vest. The use of the checkered shirt is an American adaptation that is not followed by traditional groups in Germany (or the Alpenland Tänzer since joining the Gauverband -ed.).
Webmeister's note: Special thanks to our 'Historian' Karin P. Gottier, also of the North American Federation of German Folk Dance Groups for assistance with some of the historical background of dances and Tracht.
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