I adore being a re-enactor. It’s part of my identity and it’s something I will proudly tell every new person about (admittedly it’s a little self-inducting because part of me enjoys the utter look of confusion and bafflement it causes. I am 5 ft 3, have a resting worry face and typically wear tee shirts proclaiming my love for various cartoon characters. I do not look like your stereotypical re-enactor). However, there are negatives to re-enactment and as a way to practice what I preach, this post is a way to remove any bias. I hope you enjoy the list!
BETH’S LIST OF FIVE NEGATIVES OF RE-ENACTMENT
- Hella Expensive
I’m not gonna lie but re-enactment is an expensive hobby. For each training session you attend (with my re-enactment group at least) there is no cost. However, it’s quite an investment buying all the kit, getting to shows and yearly membership fees. Prices vary hugely between period, rank and gender. For example, because I participate in both fighting and living history, I have to portray two genders (because women weren’t allowed to fight) so have twice the kit. I also have ranked up a couple of tiers in the past 3 years so have had to make my kit match. It should be pointed out that I am quite stingy (I have the bare minimum kit) and others jump ranks much quickly and to higher ranks. Below is a breakdown of all the costs I have spent over the past 3 years. It excludes all travel costs.
Membership (Since September 2013 including group and university costs)- £39
Weaponry (shield, spear, knives, Spear haft replacements) £118
Armour (helmet, arming cap, gambeson, maille, gloves) £245
Women’s kit (dress, underwear and stockings, wimple, wimple pins, shoes, belt) £128
Men’s kit (tunic, under tunic, hood) £55
Linen sack for kit £5
TOTAL COST: £590
It is possible to keep costs down a little by buying second-hand kit and selling on old kit but it still may be more expensive than other hobbies. I certainly chose to become a re-enactor at the wrong time, student budgets don’t easily stretch to accommodate expensive hobbies. However, my parents were very pleased that I wasn’t getting stupidly drunk every night because I simply didn’t have any money to do so.
2. Hella Dangerous
Re-enactment is not the safest of hobbies. You are going to get hurt fighting others in line battles whether you like it or not. Yes, the weapons are blunt but they are still made out of thick steel and wood. You will normally get hundreds of bruises from a single session (my only quibble with the bruises I get is that I get most of them on my upper thighs and cannot show off my battle wounds without getting arrested for indecent exposure). However, because it’s a dangerous hobby more serious injuries can occur- usually accidents nobody goes out to inflict actual harm. Examples which have happened at the sessions and shows I have attended include knee dislocations, spines been trampled on, concussion and little fingers being sliced off. These accidents have been extremely rare but they can happen so it is worth being aware of the dangers.
3. Extreme Heat Differences at Shows
Shows usually take place between April and October and because the shows take place across the United Kingdom the weather changes a lot. This means that the temperature can vary a lot, even within the same show. There was a weekend show I attended last year where I awoke to ice on the tents and by midday, I was melting because it got so much warmer during the day. It also does not help that a lot of my kit involves being wool so wearing wool in the summer is nobody’s idea of fun. (It’s also not fun if, like me, you have eczema which flares up when if you wear a lot of woollen clothes). Wool is only so waterproof as well, so if you’re at a show where it constantly rains you are going to get cold very quickly especially if it’s blowing a gale because the water slowly soaks through your clothes and doesn’t dry. Some people are ok with this factor but I don’t really cope well with being too cold or being too warm.
4. Being a Female Re-enactor
This is another personal reason. I find it personally very annoying having to take two sets of kit to shows because I just have so much more stuff to take in comparison to male re-enactors. It also means where I could take a blanket or two for camping, the space in your bag is taken up by re-enactment clothes so you have to make the choice of being warm at night or fighting in the line battle at the show. If you do decide to not fight in the show, things get super boring. There’s only so much women can do at shows. They can either cook, do chores, or braid, embroider or weave if they are the right tier. As someone who has to do something and lacks a lot of drapery skills (my cloth making skills are very well known in the group, so much so people are scared whenever I cut cloth out) I often rush about collecting water or do the washing up every five minutes until I get told off because I’m doing all the chores and somebody else has to do them because people don’t understand that I need to have something to keep me busy. Also, as a female re-enactor, it is inevitable you will experience a show whilst it’s that time of the month (which is not fun, believe me!)
And Finally… 5. Saying Goodbye
It’s true when they say saying goodbye is hard and I absolutely hate it. Because I joined re-enactment when I was at university it meant that there was a large student turnover as third years leave and are so replaced by freshers (*starts singing* IT’S THE CIRCLE OF LIIIIFFFFEEEE!) You spend a year, two years, even three fighting with people who share similar interests and a sense of humour. They become your closest friends pretty quickly. I always say that my re-enactment group were my university family, a home from home. One by one, people leave because jobs are in the cities and people’s degrees end. Goodbyes must be said sooner or later and one day it is your turn to leave. I have joined another re-enactment group since and I still see my friends when visiting or at shows however, goodbyes are still hard and they don’t get any easier.