Members of the Wake and District Pipe Band
(and some guest players) are on the road to Norfolk, Virginia to participate in the Virginia International Tattoo
as part of the largest cast of over 1,500 performers! Military bands, drill teams, bagpipers, drummers, celtic dancers, choirs and more from around the globe will create a series of spectacular performances throughout the week of 18 April 2016.
What is a tattoo?
is a military performance of music or display of armed forces in general. The term comes from the early 17th century Dutch phrase doe den tap toe
(“turn off the tap”), a signal sounded by drummers or trumpeters to instruct innkeepers near military garrisons to stop serving beer and for soldiers to return to their barracks
The term dates from around 1600 during the Thirty Years’ War
in the Low Countries
and the Netherlands
). The Dutch fortresses were garrisoned with mercenary troops that were under federal command since 1594. The Dutch States Army
had become a federal army, consisting mostly of Scottish, English, German and Swiss mercenaries, but commanded by a Dutch officer corps. Drummers
from the garrison were sent out into the towns at 21:30 hrs (9:30PM) each evening to inform the soldiers that it was time to return to barracks
. The process was known as doe den tap toe
(Dutch for “turn off the tap”), an instruction to innkeepers to stop serving beer
and send the soldiers home for the night. The drummers continued to play until the curfew
at 22:00 hrs (10:00PM). Tattoo, earlier tap-too and taptoo, are alterations of the Dutch words tap toe
which have the same meaning.
Over the years, the process became more of a show and often included the playing of the first post
at 21:30 hrs and the last post
at 22:00. Bands and displays were included and shows were often conducted by floodlight or searchlight. Tattoos were commonplace in the late 19th century with most military and garrison towns putting on some kind of show or entertainment during the summer months. Between the First World War
and the Second World War
elaborate tattoos were held in many towns, with the largest in Aldershot
The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo
is unique in that it is a full theatrical production, comprising costume designers, props designers, full wardrobe staff, and is presented as ‘theatre in the round’. The show is intensely rehearsed over a two-week period and is a wholly combined military and civilian production. The Nova Scotia Tattoo
was the first tattoo to receive royal designation on the occasion of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th Birthday in 2006
The largest tattoo in the United States is the Virginia International Tattoo, held every year in Norfolk, Virginia. Over 1,500 performers play traditional music and many international acts join every branch of the Armed Forces.
The United States Air Force
holds tattoos for many different events and celebrations, like base openings and closers, and special events like the 21st Annual Langley
The Air Force’s largest tattoo is held the last Friday of June each year at Wright-Patterson AFB
, Ohio. The 2010 tattoo there drew an estimated 75,000 people and featured the rock group .38 Special. The 2011 event featured aircraft flyovers and music by country group Lonestar.
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