The Límbó (Limm-Bóe) is a novelty or eccentric dance and is also known as the "Under Stick Dance," where as the dancer moves to a Caribbean rhythm and dances under a stick, held up by a person on each end of the stick or a stand, without knocking or touching the stick. The word Limbo in the Roman Catholic tradition means a place where the souls of people go if they are not accepted into heaven but not bad enough to be sent to hell, not a very nice place to be and no one knows your there with no chance of escape.
Originally, the people of Trinidad during this dance portrayed going down in the hold of a slave ship which carried
them off into slavery. No matter how they twist or turn squirmed or arched they would go deeper and deeper, some would make it, while some would not. Basically they were going into Limbo. (It was also used as a funeral dance and may be related to the African legba or legua dance).
If the dancer is successful he must repeat this again and again with the bar being lowered another "Notch" each time. Each dancer does this until there is only one left standing who has not touched the bar, fallen down, laid on the floor or used his/her hands to keep balance. On-lookers as well as other dancers would clap and cheer (or egg on) and sing while the dancer tries to go under the stick. This dance was very popular at beach parties.
In the mid 1960's a Fire limbo was done as a stage act as well as a few contests were thrown, but legal hazards made this cease publicly. The Fire Limbo is a normal Limbo with the exception of the stick, it is set on fire burning while the dancer performs, with occasionally the dancer having a lighted torch, blowing alcohol from the mouth to the torch for an explosive bursts of flame. The Fire Limbo was not done socially, and was performed by professionals and should not be tried at home for more than the obvious reasons. :)
The Caribbean Stick Dance is a fighting type dance, which may or may not be related.
Guiness World Book Records:
Regular Bar- 61/2" inches by Teresa Marquis of St. Lucia, West Indies. 4/15/1970.
Flaming Bar- 61/8" inches by Marlene Raymond, Toronto, 6/24/1973.