Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 51 > Page 42 - "It is Wrong, Wrong to Dance"?? An Introduction to Cheticamp-Area Dance Prohibition with Folklorist Barbara LeBlanc

Page 42 - "It is Wrong, Wrong to Dance"?? An Introduction to Cheticamp-Area Dance Prohibition with Folklorist Barbara LeBlanc

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1989/1/1 (264 reads)

came along, and the handsome stranger was the devil. Because of course what happened is, people would say that dance, and the music that was associated to dance, were the devil's work. And so that the devil, through--and it was usually through a wom? an, it was never through a man--that he would get to you through that, by coming as a stranger and courting the pretty wom? an of the area. So, like I say, Lubie Chiasson remembered vague memories of a legend. But no one else that I spoke to did. (But in other places....) Yes. Yes, yes. And you can have the full legends from, for example, the Magdalen Islands, from areas in Que? bec... But not from Cheticamp, unfortunately. Those two songs (collected in the Cheticamp area) are kind of a passive knowledge of them. (What do we mean by "passive knowl? edge"?) Well, I mean that it's not active. They don't--you wouldn't find someone sing? ing that if you went to their house and they're having an evening together. You see? But if you ask, "Do you remember ever having heard a song about the devil coming and taking away a pretty girl at a dance?" By passive I mean that it's in there, but it's not in active use, it's not in their active repertoire of songs. One of them, I think, came from Fr. Au? Coin, and the other came from Leo AuCoin in St. Joseph du Moine. And he had it written in his scribbler. He has a hand- 1'1 Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Park Operating Hours: June and September 9:30 to 5:00 July and August 9:00 to 6:00 Pre-Season and General Infomiation 733-3100 Canada written scribbler of songs from his grand? parents, and that's where it was from. So--this again is supposition--but I would assume that because, today, that isn't a problem--(dance is) not something that has to be controlled--those songs have no use? ful function any more within the communi? ty. So that's why it's not an active re? pertoire. It's not within my memory. 'Cause I never--the only experience I re? member of negative in dance was when I be? longed to the St. Ann's Sodality. I was about 16. And they had those go-go dance shows on television. And I was the secre? tary. And we had to write a letter to the television--it was the Cape Breton sta? tion- -saying that we thought that this was atrocious, that this kind of behaviour shouldn't be shown on TV. So I mean, even then--now I'm talking about mid-'60s when I would have been in my teens--that there were remnants of that type of thing, about dancing behaviour. You see? But, in my living memory, I don't have that kind of folklore process where there'd have been songs and legends told to me and sung to me, to reinforce that type of knowledge, that dancing was bad and would lead to Hell. As where, for ex? ample, someone like Leo AuCoin or Lubie Chiasson, somewhere along--whether it's a memory that they lived themselves or whether it's a memory from their parents-- it's still in their memory. (But only because it was asked for.) Yes, only because it. was asked for. (Today, priests play such a major role in music, in dance, in stimulating that kind of thing.) Absolutely. So, it's a real, kind of flip-flop in attitude. Because the Scottish communities had similar things. I remember in that book The Cape Breton Fid? dler he speaks about that, and the fiddles Jacques-Cartier Motel kitchenette units available / telephones in all rooms P. O. Box 555, Sydney, N. S. B1P 6H4 (902) 539-4375 or 539-4378 or 539-4379 SYDNEY - GLACE BAY HIGHWAY FRANCAIS 2 Kilometres de I'Aeroport ENGLISH WE KEEP TABS ON CAPE BRETON, TOO! Local histories, genealogical tools, area newspaper backfiles. Serving Inverness, Richmond, and Guysborough Counties EASTERN COUNTIES REGIONAL LIBRARY 390 Murray Street, P. O. Box 250 MULGRAVE, N. S. BOE 2G0 Tel. (902) 747-2597 ENVOY: ILLJNSME
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