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The 2016 London social season is just getting underway There are no set dates for this but traditionally it starts at Guy Fawkes Day and more or less ends when Parliament rises in late December.

There are lots of charity balls during the season and invariably lots of Americans and Canadians and Aussies and Kiwis will show up to attend them. These charity balls are formal dress events. Examples are The Hope Ball The Feathers Ball, the Children With Cancer Ball, and the list goes on and on. There are hundreds of them.

Some of these visitors (especially Americans and Canadians) will celebrate their Scottish heritage by wearing the full highland kit. A proper kit includes a Sgian Dubh and hence this question. Travellers know that a Sgian Dubh must be in checked luggage, that's no problem. And of course it's ok to wear a Sgian Dubh at a ball. But what happens if the person wants to go to a restaurant beforehand? Or more practically, go to an after-hours pub or club?

If the person enters a restaurant, do they have to check it in with the manager? Or if they go to a club do they have to check it in with the bouncer or bar tender? Or an after hours event at a museum? Or can they simply wear their sgian dubh anywhere in London without any hassle?

Question: What's the prevailing custom about wearing sgianan dubh in restaurants, pubs, and similar venues? I know that legally in the strictest sense of the law that it's ok, but I am interested in what the local custom actually is.

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    I've never been to a restaurant or pub in the UK when anyone was asked about or checked for knives. I very much doubt if a Sgain Duh even raises an eyebrow (at least no more eyebrows than wearing full highland dress will raise anyway) especially at the kind of restaurants you are likely to visit after a society ball. A club might be another matter if it had had a weapons problem, but I wouldn't go to those clubs, especially in highland dress. If a question was asked management would probably agree to look after it. – DJClayworth Oct 23 '16 at 2:26
  • @DJClayworth personal experience is valuable, consider promoting your comment to a full answer. – Gayot Fow Oct 23 '16 at 2:47
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    There strict anti knife laws in the UK. See ukpreppersguide.co.uk/uk-knife-law – eleanora Oct 23 '16 at 6:41
  • For anyone reading a "skee-an-do" is just a small decorative knife said to be part of the supposed "traditional" (Victorian? whatever) "formal" wear of Scottish people (kilt and so on). I would suggest it's just a total non-issue, Gayot: if you are renting a kilt or the like just forget about including a decorative knife, it's of no consequence. – Fattie Oct 23 '16 at 13:40
  • @JoeBlow novelty? rent? what planet are you on lad? Come along now. Perhaps standing outside one and watching people arrive might be an eyeopener :) – Gayot Fow Oct 23 '16 at 15:36
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I've never been to a restaurant or pub in the UK when anyone was asked about or checked for knives, although to be fair I've also never been to either with someone in Highland dress. But but virtually none of those places have a knife problem.

I very much doubt if a Sgian Dubh even raises an eyebrow (at least no more eyebrows than wearing full highland dress will raise anyway) especially at the kind of restaurants you are likely to visit after a society ball. A club might be another matter if it had had a weapons problem, but I wouldn't go to those clubs, especially in highland dress. If a question was asked management would probably agree to look after it.

  • Sadly it does raise eyebrows all too often these days. See my answer. – Rory Alsop Dec 11 '16 at 14:28
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May I suggest the Safety Sgian Dubh as a solution to all of your problems? As a bonus: it's also a bottle opener. If you find this hand crafted piece of art too expensive then Amazon has it too but surely No True Scotsman would be caught with something that cheap.

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    Is it comfortable to have a bottle opener inside your sock? It would be simpler just to get a sgian dubh with a dummy blade. – vclaw Oct 24 '16 at 10:10
  • I have no clue, I wouldn't have thought having a blade in your socks is comfortable and this doesn't look much different from a comfort standpoint. – chx Dec 12 '16 at 2:55
  • But a sgian dubh is usually in some sort of sheath, so you don't have a blade directly into your sock. I don't think that bottle opener would fit in a sheath. – vclaw Dec 12 '16 at 13:38
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More and more places are banning Sgian Dubh, even in Scotland, as it is a weapon. If you are at a ceilidh at a stately home you'll probably be fine, but wearing one to a nightclub in the city centre in Glasgow can end up with it confiscated. So I typically do wear one to formal events, but not if I'm kilted on a general night out clubbing.

From Wikipedia:

When worn as part of the national costume of Scotland, the sgian-dubh is legal in Scotland, England and Wales. In Scotland under the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 Sec. 49, Sub-sec. 5(c);[5] in England and Wales, under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (section 139)[6] and the Offensive Weapons Act 1996 (section 4).[7]

However, the wearing of the sgian-dubh is sometimes banned in areas with zero tolerance weapons policies or heightened security concerns.

So there are certain city-centre areas where you may not be permitted to wear one, so my guidance would be to get an alternative, such as the bottle opener version @chx mentioned, or any other bladeless one. Most kilt shops sell them as alternatives.

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