Anytime and any place!
At the 2015 World Championships on Sept 19th Street Duelling was included as a demonstration sport!
Since then I have had some questions about what Street Duelling is and how it compares to the usual Parasol Duelling we are all familiar with.
Street Duelling first appeared in the later years of Queen Victoria's reign and likely originated somewhere in the American West. The reasons for its popularity probably have to do as much with how "exotic" and a bit "unladylike" it was, in comparison to the more stately and formal duelling of the British Duelling Schools as with anything else :-)
Street Duelling is based on the Brandenburg Variations rules that we normally use but with a couple of changes that result in a strong resemblance to an Old West gunfight. Tales of such rough gun play were popular in England long after the real "Olde West" had passed into history.
A Street Duel is conducted with miniature parasols, typically 8" or so long. These are kept in holsters, like that for a gunfighter's revolver, or tucked into a belt. They can also be kept in a "Parasol Pocket" sewn into a Lady's skirts.The figures are the familiar Twirl, Snub, and Plant. Because the Street Duelling parasol is so short the plant is just held straight down, and the twirl only has to go to the side.
There are some Street Duelling parasols that are even smaller that can be operated with one hand which can make for a very fast duel indeed!
The Duels themselves are typically conducted without a Doctor, the count being done by the duelists themselves. This meant that Ladies could duel anywhere! It also meant grudges and "duels for cause" between Ladies could be conducted in private.
Under Her Majesty's Rules any "duel for cause" must be conducted with a Doctor present.
Street Duels start with the Ladies facing each other, rather than back to back. They stand closer too, only a few paces apart just out of reach of an extended arm holding the short parasol. Much better for giving your opponent the "look".
Photo by MetallYZA
From there the duel proceeds like normal.
This sequence of photos from Twitter user MetallYZA, taken at the 2015 World Championships, captures the intensity of the "draw".
Monica Willard is one of the best Street Duelists in the world and carries dual Street Parasols in her tooled leather holster.
Photo by MetallYZA
She draws the parasol and holds it up in front of her face.
Her eyes never leave her opponent's face!
Speed is important but so is being able to move smoothly into the figures once the count begins.
Photo by MetallYZA
Here she has moved into a well executed snub still focused intently on her opponent.
From this position she could easily move into a plant or a twirl as needed.
Two things to keep in mind here:
1) There is no start signal for the draw like there is when the Ladies turn from their paces in a normal duel. This gives great opportunities to try to psyche out the opponent.
2) Counting while doing the figures is trickier than it seems :-)
At first Street Duelling was not permitted in formal competition because it was considered rather unladylike. It was very popular however and many Ladies carried Street Duelling parasols, even sporting elegant leather holsters on finely tooled leather belts imported from the American South West.
In a nod to this popularity Her Majesty decided to allow Street Duelling in competition. However Her Majesty decreed that the duels must be conducted with a Doctor present to do the count. The duelists still face each other and do the draw on their own time but, in competition, the Doctor starts the count when the first Lady gets her parasol into position upright in font of her face.
Street Duelling was never included in the scoring for the World Championships but there were still prizes and awards given for the best duelists.
The Street Duelling at this year's World Parasol Duelling Championships was very well received and the Ladies demonstrated great intensity and speed.
Next year's competition will include a formal Street Duelling tournament and is going to be very exciting indeed.
Keep your sightglass filled, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.
To find out more about this great sport go to:
Madame Saffron Hemlock’s Parasol Duelling League for Steampunk Ladies
Click here for information on the history and development of Parasol Duelling
or click the Parasol Duelling tag.
The Rules for Parasol Duelling are here.