from The Creole Slave dances in Place Congo -1886: (Used
1) "The true Calinda was bad enough.
In Louisiana, at least, its song was always a grossly personal
satirical ballad, and it was the favorite dance all the way from
there to Trinidad. To dance it publicly is not allowed this side
the West Indies. All this Congo Square business was suppressed
at one time; 1843, says tradition. The Calinda was a dance of
multitude, a sort of vehement cotillion. The contortions of the
encircling crowd were strange and terrible, the din was hideous.
One Calinda is still familiar to all Creole ears; it has long
been a vehicle for the white Creoles satire; for generations the
man of municipal politics was fortunate who escaped entirely a
lampooning set to its air. In my childhood I used, at one time,
to hear,every morning, a certain black marchailde descalas peddler-woman
selling rice croquettes chanting the song as she moved from street
to street at the sunrise hour with her broad, shallow, laden basket
balanced on her head. Be covered by the roll of victims. The masters
winked at these gross but harmless liberties and, as often as
any others, added stanzas of their own invention. The Calinda
ended these dissipation's of the Dan - ci ca - un - da, Bon-djoum!
Bon-djoum Dan - ci ca- un - da, Bon-djoum! Boo-djoum! In other
words, a certain Judge Preval gave a ball not an outdoor Congo
dance and made such Cuffees as could pay three dollars a ticket.
It doesn't rhyme, but it was probably true. Dance, dance the Calinda
Boujourn! Boujoum! The number of stanzas has never been counted;
here are a few of them.
Dans lequirie la y a-cd grand gala; Mo
en chonal la yi t ben itonni.
Michi Preval, ii ti capitaine bal;
So cocher Louis, ti maite cinimonie.
Y avi des nigresses belle passi maitresses,
Qul voli hel-bel dans lormoire momselle.
~. S * S S S
Ala maite la geile li trouvi si drile,
Li dit, mom aussi, mo fi bal ici.
Guatebman la yi yi tombi la dans;
Yi fi gran diga dans liquirie la. etc.
It was in a
stable that they had this gala night, says the song; the horses
there were greatly astonished. Preval was captain; his coachman,
Louis, was master of ceremonies. There were Negresses made prettier
than their mistresses by adornments stolen from the ladies wardrobes
(armoires). But the jailer found it all so funny that he proposed
to him self to take an unexpected part; the watch men came down
No official exaltation bought immunity from the jeer of the Calinda.
Preval was a magistrate. Stephen Mazureau, in his attorney-generals
office, the song likened to a bullfrog in a bucket of water. A
page might summer Sabbath afternoons. They could not run far into
the night, for all the fascinations of all the dances could not
excuse the slaves tarrying in public places after a certain other
bou-aj/oum / (that was not of the Calinda, but of the regular
nine o'clock evening gun) had rolled down Orleans street from
the Place dArmes; and the black man or woman who wanted to keep
a whole skin on the back had to keep out of the Calaboose. Times
have changed, and there is nothing to be regretted in the change
that has come over Congo Square. Still a glamour hangs over its
dark past. There is the pathos of slavery, the poetry of the weak
oppressed by the strong, and of limbs that danced after toil,
and of barbaric lovemaking. The rags and semi-nakedness, the bamboula
drum, the dance, and almost the banjo, are gone; but the bizarre
melodies and dark lovers apostrophes live on; and among them the
old Counjaille song of Aerobe Brad~re." ... End Reprint
2) Pere Labat writes in 1724:
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 drums. The ablest person 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 a great hand clapping. As for the dancers, they hold their
arms a little like someone playing castanets. 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 brings them together again to strike their thighs
together, that is, the men's against the women's. To see them
it would seem that they are striking each other's bellies although
it is only the thighs which receive the blows. At the proper time
they withdraw with a pirouette, only to begin again the same movement
with absolutely lascivious gestures; this, as many times as the
drums give the signal, which is many times in a row. From time
to time they lock arms and make several revolutions always slapping
their thighs together and kissing each other. It can readily be
seen by this abridged description to what degree this dance is
contrary to al modesty... End Reprint