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GUEST,Azizi Is 'Line Dancing' rubbish? (114* d) RE: Is 'Line Dancing' rubbish? 31 Aug 04

Line dancing is also an African Diaspora dance form. For example, the Calenda was a line dance that was performed among Africans in the Caribbean and in the United States {such as New Orlean's Congo Square}. One 18th century description of this dance in the Caribbean is as follows:

"The dancers are arranged in two lines, facing each other, the men on one side and the women on the other. Those who are tired of dancing form a circle with the spectators around the dancers and the drums. The ablest persons sings a song which he composes on the spot on any subject he considers appropriate. The refrain of this song is sung by everyone and is accompanied by great handclapping. As for the dancers, they hold their arms a little like someone playing castagnettes. They jump, make swift turns, approach each other to a distance of two or three feet then draw back with the beat of the drum until the sound of the drums bring them together again to strike their thighs together, that is the men's against the women's...At the proper time they withdraw with a pirouette, only to begin again with the same movement..." {Labat quoted in Lynne Fauley Emery's Black Dance from 1619 to Today, 2nd, revised edition, Princeton Books,1972, pp 21-22)

Someone asked in this thread if Ballin The Jack was a line dance. Emery describes this early 20th African American dance as a "serpentine , circular, shuffling dance" {p. 214}. I believe that "serpentine" means processional, undulating like a snake, similar to the Conga {which began as a religious processional dance}. At any rate, Ballin the Jack became a hip shakin couple's dance. So, I wouldn't consider Ballin the Jack as an example of Black line dancing. I'm too young {ahem!!} to remember Truckin', The Sroll, and The Hickhike, but I believe they were mostly vertical line dances {??}not horizontal line dances.

Among contemporary Black line dancing there are the Perculator, the Cleveland Shuffle, and one called Shake What Ya Mama Gave You. Line dancing isn't big in my adopted city of Pittsburgh, but it's starting to pop up here from the Midwest and elsewhere. Generally, the people in Pittsburgh who attend line dance classes are middle age and female, but that doesn't mean that we are the only one's doing it... While the steps are synchronized, dancers add their own flava to the mix.

If you'd like to get a sense of line dancing African American style, rent or purchase the movie Best Man. That movie ends with the entire wedding party and guests of all ages doing a line dance called the Electric Slide.

To paraphrase what someone said earlier- there's line dancing and there's LINE DANCING!

By the way, if you check out teh history of Morris Dancing, it started out as a Black thing too {Morris=Moorish=African}.


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