WJI Blog Day 3, PM: The Wooden Clogs of the Dutch

May 19, 2018

Esther Eaton

This Saturday we spent the day reporting at Orange City’s Tulip Festival. As a Virginian, I was excited to experience the Dutch culture on display.

At one point I paused to interview a member of the Dutch Dozen, a group of high school dancers. While he answered my questions, a whole flock of the dancers gathered. Despite being repainted every year, their clogs have lost chips of paint, scraped off by constant clashing against each other in the dances. Some alumni of the Dutch Dozen can be recognized by the distinctive fluorescent orange clogs they still wear to the festival.

One young man pulled the foam pads out of his clogs to show me how he protected his feet. Others said they just dealt with the bruises. When I mentioned ballerinas’ famously mangled feet, one young woman said, “Just try being Dutch!”

The festival attendees admitted that clogs were more practical in the wet gardens of Holland. Wooden shoes held up better than leather or cloth shoes, which quickly rotted. But they wear them for tradition, and I enjoyed them for the sounds. When a marching band wearing clogs stomped down the street, the high-pitched rattle of clogs on concrete preceded them.

Another man I interviewed said the only time he doesn’t feel the pain of his clogs is when he’s dancing. The adrenaline and focus over-shadow the bruising. Otherwise, though, he said he wears the clogs all day to prove to himself that he can, and then whines to his wife at night.

Others claimed the clogs are comfortable—at least with enough pairs of socks. Many of the traditional costumes broke authenticity when it came to the ankles. Some people had thick black stockings, but others wore neon athletic socks, leggings, and in one case a rubber bracelet pushed up on a boy’s ankle.

And for the tourist who wasn’t up for wood shoes, shops offered clogs made of rubbery foam, or even a pair of slippers for Dutch style in comfort.

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