dance, dance

A tangential thread on an earlier post sent me browsing through an old favourite: Elizabeth Aldrich’s From the Ballroom to Hell. The relevant bit is in the comment thread below, but I thought a more fulsome quotation might amuse you.

This one is especially for father Zebadee (and I dare say, his son).

The Canon of the Polka

1. At the concluding note of the bar before you begin, throw back your left foot. If there is such a thing as a pewter Mercury, or a plaster Cupid in any of the gardens in your neighbourhood, you may practise standing in the attitude the figure is in, the being able to stand like a goose on one leg, being an important, and indeed, essential facility to those who aspire to be rated, A.1. in Polka.

II. Take a good hold of your partner and keep it; it is the height of spooniness to let anything slip through your fingers.

III. Remember, that in your step you stride, not straddle. If you cannot keep your own legs in their proper places, no one else will do it for you.

IV. Be moderate in your kicks, as you ought to be in all your pleasures, and do not forget that kicking, you lash, not prance.

V. Stop when you hear your partner sobbing very painfully, or when you observe her gown is coming off. Nothing marks a chivalrous mind, more than consideration fro women…

VI. [on what to do if you can’t dance, see the comments for in your heart below]

VII. If you can dance, impress upon your partner that she must trust herself implicitly and unresistingly to your guidance — Faith being the only virtue that saves a Polka.

from Captain Knox’s
The Spirit of the Polka
London, 1854

9 thoughts on “dance, dance”

  1. Been there and done that with the son.

    Have you and I ever actually polka-ed? It seems impossible that we haven’t, yet when?

    The challenge for me is always #7; I blame it on the ‘if’ clause.

  2. The other member of this household has produced a letter from The Son when he was in Sweden c1966.

    It is claimed in the letter that you have offered to teach me the polka.

    I cannot ever remember the offer being made but The Son cannot ever be wrong, well that is what he says.

    When we next meet the letter will be produced and I would suggest the matter is again discussed in greater detail.

    One cannot begin to imagine what your 000s of readers will think to this claim.

  3. I deny all knowledge of letters written in 1966. I may have been a precocious child, but that is pushing it a bit.

    Did we not dance round the common room once? or was it beneath the Holm Oak?? I know it wasn’t down South Street, for that was indeed the Son.

  4. Gosh, now there’s an admission.

    I suppose that means I’ll have to acknowledge remembering said letter (or rather, the offer made.) It was ball season after all. And I think the goal was for you to ask Daphne…

  5. Daphne——-

    I have admitted that I am omly human.

    This is taking matters too far.

    Might not be able to sleep at the thought.

    What have I been protected from for all these years?

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