Running the gauntlet

Click here to view it larger.

This one I bought in person out of a bin of old photos, so I wasn’t able to enlarge it until I got home. It’s a 4.75 x 3 inch snapshot, and all I could make out in the store was that it involved some shipboard activity with sailors. That was promising enough for me. But when I enlarged it, I was amazed to see it wasn’t just people milling around. It was some guy running the gauntlet, racing between two rows of men who are whacking him in the butt with paddles. And they’re in costume! Is this some maritime ritual I’m not familiar with? There’s a banner in the back on which I can make out the words “Royal Court”, so perhaps somebody was found guilty in the “court” and made to run the gauntlet as punishment? At least it seems to be all in fun. I don’t know who these guys are, where they are, or when this photo was taken. It’s not really an ideal photo in terms of the framing of the subject, or the clarity of the image. But it’s still a wonderful, amusing peek into a world that isn’t mine.

2 comments on “Running the gauntlet”

  1. Gotta love a young man in a uniform. Or in this case, that and costumes. Ever the research queen, I did a search for “Royal Court”. It led me to the “Crossing the Line” ritual. Like many military (not to mention any fraternal group) traditions, it has elements of both homoeroticisms, and BDSM. I’d clutch my pearls and tsk. But I know people who voluntarily participate in those kinds of scenes.

    • I knew there were hazing rituals for sailors crossing the Equator for the first time, but I wasn’t sure if that’s what was going on here. I also wasn’t sure if “Royal” meant the sailors were, say, British, or if it was all just part of the silliness.

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