The Royal Edinburgh Tattoo Down Under

Today we went to see the Royal Edinburgh Tattoo in Melbourne, and it sure brought me back to some fun memories from my teenage years.  I played the trumpet in marching band for 12 years, and my high school band had a bagpipe band so the sound of bagpipes always reminds me of home.  I also took Scottish Dancing lessons for a couple years and competed at a couple Highland Games.  I might not have much Scottish blood, but I feel like I could be an adopted Scot.
Doing the sword dance before the high school football championship 
Competing at a Highland Game
Twenty years ago, (wow, I'm getting old!) my high school band went to England and Scotland on a tour.  Funny, when I hear about Alex Smith the football player I think of that trip.  He was in middle school at the time and the son of our school principal so he went along.  I see pictures of him now and just can't process that he's not that scrawny little 12 year old any more.  Anyway, we stopped and had concerts in a few places along the way and even marched in a parade in Edinburgh.  We of course saw the Tattoo while we were there, and I remember the backdrop of the castle and the ground being packed with bagpipers.  My Grandma was slightly obsessed with the Tattoo also, she would buy video tapes of each year's performance and was excited that I got to go.  I wish I could share some pictures of that trip but I think they're on the other side of the Pacific in my parents' garage.

The show in Melbourne had a replica of the castle, it was quite funny to see.  They had the stadium roof closed to get the effect of night time, and it gave an air of cheesy sincerity.  It began with a traditional Aboriginal Ceremony, and then the bands marched out.  There were of course the military bands, but with a South Pacific twist.  Bands from New Zealand, Samoa, and Fiji came out.  There were some traditional island dances and a Maori Haka, not something you'd see at the Edinburgh Tattoo.  Then bands from Norway, Switzerland, and the UK, and of course lots of bagpipers and some highland dancers.  Luckily I brought the binoculars so I could watch the dancing up close from our nose bleed seats.  

The replica castle with bands marching out
Fijian dancers in front of the castle
My husband hadn't known what to expect, he spent his high school years on the hockey rink so his marching band knowledge is more the American Pie variety.  I think watching the bands march up and down the field gave him a new outlook on just how much of a nerd I was.  The funny hats, stiff uniforms, and playing cheesy marches while trying to walk were all part of growing up for me.  One of the bands even played a march we played hundreds of times in high school.  That groaning sound the pipes make before the eminent wail brought me back in time.  And meanwhile, my husband's face was one of horror.  
Band pic from back in the day
The crowd was a mix of older people and the adult children they had convinced take them.  Lots of walkers and wheelchairs - a lot like the Dolly Parton concert crowd.  It was funny to watch, especially knowing I was probably just as excited as them to be there.  

It was an interesting Australia take on the traditional Tattoo.  I liked that they didn't try to do an exact replica of the Edinburgh show, that they gave it a local twist and brought in more local bands.  My husband had wanted to see the real thing so he was a bit disappointed  - I guess we'll just have to plan a trip to show him the real deal some day!
Flaming drum sticks!
The Grand Finale


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