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Peer-Reviewed Research

Abstract:

The Christmas Band competitions are one of three coloured community music competitions that take place in the Western Cape between January and March every year, the other two being the klopse (carnival troupes) and the Malay choirs. Christmas bands, which first began holding formal competitions in the 1940s, developed out of city clubs established under British colonial rule in the Cape Colony and the Temperance movement, both of which imbued the bands with the idea of presenting a respectable working class ethos through the use of stylish uniforms, strict discipline and implied militarism in the marching files. The bands characterise and preserve notions of masculinity, bond local communities of supporters, help to train musicians, and through the annual enactment of an ideal coloured community help working class people to present themselves as upright and honourable members of society. The practices engaged in by the bands constitute a performance of identity: the articulation of a social identity, which, though marginalised and contested, is nonetheless proudly independent and united.