The other day on my way to look up something else, I wandered into a far-off corner of the Web, a place where reenactors gather. Reenactors as in (mostly) guys who dress up in costumes from a bygone era and build camps and fight mock battles. It all looks pretty healthy but it’s, you know, weird. But weird in a “Wo! I knew this stuff existed, but not on this SCALE!” kind of way. Interesting way. But NOT in a way that would tempt me to participate in any way. I just wanted to make that clear.
To me, reenactment is sort of like NASCAR; I don’t know anything about it except what has osmosed into my brain. Because NASCAR has so successfully infiltrated our popular culture, we know stuff about NASCAR even if we have no interest in it whatsoever. Reenactors don’t create that kind of buzz, which is probably a good thing.
So reenactment and reenactors populate the hinterlands of the internet. Once I got into the interlinked websites, I was fascinated. I learned that the Civil War is only a part of the Reenactor Universe, a universe that spans continents. In the UK, they play out the wars of the Empire such as the conquest of India and the wars between the Saxons and the Britons in the 6th century. There are even pirate reenactors!
Once a body has found a good reenactment era “fit” and gotten in touch with some fellow travelers, it’s time to get geared up. Because of the Internet, this is vastly easier than it once was. There are plenty of websites out there willing to help you out. Some sell historical clothing. Then there is Smoke-Fire.com, the Wal-Mart of reenactor paraphernalia!
OMG they sell stuff for KIDS! Can you imagine being the child of an avid reenactor?
“But Daddy, I don’t WANNA go to the Battle of Shiloh this weekend! They say I can’t text or talk on my phone.”
“You can go two days without that phone!”
“Don’t make me flog you!”
One thing to be aware of: there are a group of reenactors called “Farbs” that are looked down upon by the more hard core participants. Farbs are reenactors who spend relatively little of their time or money maintaining authenticity with regard to uniforms, accessories, or even period behavior. A ‘Good Enough’ attitude is pervasive among farbs, although even casual observers may be able to point out flaws. Anachronistic clothing, fabrics, fasteners (such as velcro), snoods, footwear, vehicles, and modern cigarettes are common issues.
If you’re interested in starting a group, I’ve taken the trouble of tracking down an article on how to get started.
More “must-have” links:
Ancient warfare (Greeks, Romans, Assyrians, etc)