Once again I found some interesting clips of old cine films c1980, this time of some Canvey Majorettes. My daughter, Lesley was one of them, but try as we might we could not remember the name. They met every week in the Catholic Church Hall and during the season were in the Canvey and Southend-on-sea Carnivals. Several weekends we would meet up in the Wind ammer car park or sometimes the Waterside Sports Centre car park where the girls would go off in the bus to whichever carnival was being held that day. The film was taken at the start of the Carnival in Thorney Bay, up Thorney Bay Road before it turned right into Long Road. The area at the time was surrounded by fields which have all dissappeared today, instead it is all houses.
Here are some of the things she remembers bearing in mind she was only about 6-7 at the time:
- We used to stand in lines to practice baton twirling.
- I can still twirl a baton but can’t remember what any of the movements were called. Think the one where we twirled the baton in front of us with two hands was called the butterfly by our troupe leader because our hands would form the shape of a butterfly.
- We would practice our march by marching around the edge of the hall in a big square. Think there might have been a white line marked on the floor with tape or something.
- There were wooden benches along the back wall where we would leave our coats and outside shoes.
- They would play music from a small tape recorder for us to practice to and we used to sing along to it at the very end of the class. We would usually end every lesson with a march.
- Songs I remember them playing a lot were ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ by Pink Floyd and ‘Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick’ by Ian Dury and the Blockheads.
- Carnivals were exciting and colourful but scary. So many people and you didn’t want to miss a step or drop your baton.
- We used to be very wary of the Zulu’s. (one can be seen in the picture above) They were funny but distracting. They used to be by our section of the parade a lot of the time. They would walk beside us or sometimes run through us while we were marching which would cause us to miss a step. During one carnival a Zulu carried off one of the girls, slinging her over his shoulder, her face was bright red she was so embarrassed. One of the older girls got kissed by a Zulu while she was marching and was left with makeup marks on her face. Think one of the girl’s dads was a Zulu.
- Our feet would get very sore and swollen from marching especially if the laces were done up too tight. At the end of the carnival sometimes my feet would be so swollen you could see the imprint of my socks, shoe laces and the eyelets on the plimsolls. Very painful. Of course if you did the plimsolls up looser at the start of the march they would constantly slip on your feet and give you blisters.
- Think I had two uniforms during my time as a majorette. Both were red, white and blue but one was a shiny fabric (maybe nylon?) and the other was rough textured cotton. There was a cape, epaulettes and a hat included in the uniform. The hat had to be pinned on and was worn at an angle. My hair was worn in a silver bun crocheted by my mother (some of the other girls were envious of that little bit of silver) and I think there were pins in that too. They used to hurt my head and I was always glad to get them out. Think we just wore a leotard and our plimsolls for our lessons. Was my leotard pale blue? Can’t remember.
- There was a bus or van (can’t remember which) that would travel in front of us at the carnivals. If any of the girls got too tired, injured or unwell they could go and sit inside. The vehicle had speakers or a stereo system of some kind set up on the back playing music for us to march to.
- Had one evening of competition baton twirling and marching while I was a majorette. I got awarded the bronze medal.
Most of the girls must now be in their late 30’s early 40’s, if you are out there perhaps you can fill in some of the gaps. Do you have some pictures from the carnivals? Do you still have your baton? We would love to hear from you. We would love to hear from any Zulus still around too. I remember being chased by one myself…………………