The Making of a Tradition – East Lancashire Clog Dancing

Pat Tracey was a regular fixture at Whitby folk week for many years, as a performer and a teacher at workshops. She was often accompanied by her husband, Roy, loyal bag carrier and founder of the informal Grand Reunion of Unappreciated Clog Husbands (GROUCH), which later included me. Anyone who has carried a bag for a clog dancer knows the true meaning of grouch. Poor Roy, he never knew what hit him. When he and Pat first married they lived in a north London flat. When the tiles mysteriously began to fall off the walls in the bathroom and the neighbours complained about the tapping noises next door Pat confessed she was a secret clog dancer. Clog dancer? To be fair, Roy was from Essex.
Pat was proud of her clog dancing heritage, which she learned from her mother, her family and later, from reluctant old dancers in the 1960s – a bit like pulling teeth. They usually began by denying they had ever done such a thing, such were the associations of clogs with low social status. Families often discouraged the dancers from sharing their steps, but Pat’s persistence got us new ones by Mr Parker and Mr Hargreaves. Over the years Pat must have taught hundreds of people the East Lancashire steps at festivals in the UK and America. Later she formed Camden Clog, who continue to teach at Cecil Sharp House – and they’re at Whitby this year! The book The Making of a Tradition – East Lancashire Clog Dancing is a collection of her thoughts on the history and practice of clog dancing, and contains the notation for loads of the dances Pat collected or choreographed, including novelty dances for the stage (look out for musical hall night at the festival this year). It’s a lasting record of a dance form that might so easily have been lost but thanks to Pat and others is enjoying something of a revival.
Join Camden Clog for the launch of Making of a Tradition – East Lancashire Clog Dancing at Whitby Folk Week on Sunday 21st August, 6pm in the Rifle Club Concert Room.
Clive Boutle (publisher and rapper dancer)
You can buy the book here  50% of profits go to the Alzheimer Society