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Streetswings Dance History Archives showing Delrio and Luis doing the Rio Brazillian Maxixe Sheet Music cover origin
The Maxixe vintage old dance Histpry Origins

            The Maxixe (Max-ish, Mah-Sheesh or Mah-SHEESH-A and many other pronunciations) were also known as the Brazilian Tango or Mattchiche (similar and/or same dance) and came from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in the late 1860's or early 1870's and went by the name 'the Gherkin.' The dance was considered very lowly in stature among the public perceptions and was named after the prickly part of a cactus. In attempts to raise it's stature, many composer's would title it "Brazilian Tango" as the Tango was gaining popularity at the same time and with many music styles would try to follow a successful trend, and the Tango was very popular at this time.

       The Maxixe also has it's roots in the Polca, Lundu and Habanera. The original Maxixe (not Gherkin) was a mixture of the Two Step and certain Tango steps and patterns of the day (enchainements or sequences). Mmes. Derminy & Paule Morley danced the Maxixe in 1905. DelRio and Luis danced a Maxixe named after them entitled "Rio Brazilian Maxixe" (see photo) in the U.S. in 1910 and was introduced to Paris in 1912. Maurice Mouvet introduced the Brazilian Maxixe to New York in the spring of 1913. The Castles did what they called a Brazilian Maxixe that was similar to the Samba, (some say the precursor to the Samba) while some of the dancers danced the Maxixe more like a tango. The dance travels around the floor and uses a lot of Samba Rolls.

      In doing the Maxixe, the head and arms must be smooth and be paid strict attention too so as not to bounce!. At the time, instead of the Tango's touch-and-turn-in of the foot, it employed a characteristic of resting the heel on the floor, the foot pointed upward (ala... flying two step), while the body assumed a bent-over posture, reportedly, not particularly attractive at the time. The Maxixe was mainly an exhibition dance that later somewhat became popular for a brief time among Cafe' Society in the early 1910's, due to the exhibitionists introduction of it during the time, such as the Castle's introductions to certain dances replacing the animal dances of the day, as well as Mouvet, Sawyer, Duque, etc. in the U.S.

Maurice Mouvet Writes;
      "The "kick" in the Maxixe has been disliked by some spectators. The kick is very hard to do. The girl must lift herself from the floor to a certain extent. It is rather dangerous to depend on the frequently awkward drawing-room partner. But the kick is not actually necessary to the Maxixe. While it is the kick that makes the Maxixe it is a variation from the motif of this dance. It is the peculiarly Brazilian characteristic, yet the Maxixe has numerous figures and the kick can be left out. As I have stipulated ever since I first gave a lesson in this dance there is the Maxixe with the kick and without it. In my demonstration I give it. That is because I wish to show the dance in its entirety. In my lessons I teach it. That is because I engage to teach the Maxixe. But that kick is a great deal like cream and sugar in tea -- you may dispense with it, or dispense it, just as you desire." He also states that the Maxixe should not be confused with the Matichichi which is a different dance. ("Maurice's art of dancing: an autobiographical sketch...," circa 1915.)

      The Ballroom Maxixe that was to become popular in it's brief life span in the U.S. and the UK was heavily modified over time and the music slowed from it's beginning roots, by the exhibitionist desire or race to sell a new dance to the dancing public. Like the Twist of a later decade, they finally hit on a version that was only to become a fad of the day, having been quickly replaced by another.... The Samba!

       Today there is a dance called the Maxixe done abroad, however it has very little roots in the original written about here. It appears to be based more on a faster paced Lambada than the original Maxixe with a mixture of Salsa, Disco and walking patterns but instead of the slow Lambada grinding it is replaced with a fast paced hip wiggle ... looks fun ... see clip

Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

Rio de Janeiro 1860's/1870's n/a Latin / Ballroom

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music preview clip

Music Titles

n/a 1905 - La Mattchiche (Félis Mayol) Video Clip not available at this time le vrai tango brésilien
  1905 - Sorella
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1905 - La Mattchiche (Columbia Band)
      1906 - La Sorella (La Mattchiche)
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1905 - La Mattchiche (Félis Mayol)
      1910 - Rio Maxixe (see top)
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1905 - La Maxixe (London Novelty Orchestra)
      1913 - Maurice Mattchiche
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1905 - Sorella (Sousa)
      1914 - Amapa (cover pic of Duque & Dorgère) Video Clip not available at this time 1906 - La Sorella (La Mattchiche)
      1914 - Brazilian Maxixe (Tango) Video Clip not available at this time 1908 - Tango-Chula (Os Geraldos)
      1914 - Castle Maxixe Video Clip not available at this time 1910 - Rio Maxixe
      1914 - Joan Sawyer Maxixe
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1913 - Maori - (Victor Military Band)
      1914 - The Midnight Trot Video Clip not available at this time 1914 - Amapa - (Juca Storoni aka João
José da Costa Júnior)
      1916 - The Mazie King Midnight Trot Video Clip not available at this time
      Bregeiro Maxixe (Rio Brazilian) Video Clip not available at this time 1914 - Brasilian Maxixe
      Cielito Mio Video Clip not available at this time 1914 - Castle Maxixe
      Dengozo - Maxixe Tango (Ernesto Nazareth) Video Clip not available at this time 1914 - Joan Sawyer Maxixe
      Florence Maxixe Video Clip not available at this time 1915 - Bayo Baya
      Milonga Sentimental Video Clip not available at this time 1915 - Creole Girl
      O Jocoto (Roque V. Viera) Video Clip not available at this time 1916 - The Mazie King Midnight Trot
      Para Ser Copero Video Clip not available at this time 1916 - Nights of Gladness (Victor Military Band)
      Pembere (E. Souto)
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1940's - Boogie Woogie Maxixe (Bob Crosby)
      Silbidos de un Vago
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1955 - Rio Antigo (Ademide Fonseca)
        Video Clip not available at this time Casino-Maxixe
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Dengozo Maxixe
        Video Clip not available at this time Down in Zanzibar (Kathryn Widmer)
        Video Clip not available at this time Florence Maxixe
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La Belle Parisian (Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
        Video Clip not available at this time le tango brésilien
        Video Clip not available at this time Maxixe Bresiliene
        Video Clip not available at this time Parisian Maxixe
        Video Clip not available at this time Washington Post March

Night Clubs



Cafe ... (many Cafe's of the day) Alcazar Brazil
Café de Paris Alhambra Theatre New York
Castle House Champs Elysées Paris, France
Casino Theatre Chanticleer
Club dos Democraticos d’Été
Luna Park dance palace Olympia Theatre
Nacional Theatre Théâtre des Capucins
Sans Souci Teatro de Republica (1914) Duque & Gaby
Tango Duque Cabaret (1914, France)  
Trianon Palace (Madrid)  



Ballets / Stage

1914 - Whirl of Life (Castles) n/a Carnival Eterno
Son's of Fun        
1933 - Flying Down To Rio        
The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle      


            El Paso Herald, Ed. 1, Monday, March 2, 1914
            6/1960 - Esquire Mag (Barrie Chase)
            La Vraie Furlana

Other Related and Dances of the time...

Aeroplane Waltz Chorro Innovation Polca
Apache Dance Cinq-a-sept Lu-Lu Fado Rio Maxixe
Boogie-Woogie Maxixe Dengozo Maxixe Lundu Samba
Brazilian Tango (a.k.a. Maxixe) Florence Maxixe Mattchiche Shiver, the (1912)
Bre'silian Maxixe Furlana Maxixe Argentine Shimmy, the
Buena Vista Tango Gherkin (aka pre Maxixe) Melange Tango
Bunny Hug Grizzly Bear Military Glide Texas Tommy
Cakewalk Habanera Papaltatsa Maxixe Two Step
Carioca Half and Half Parisian Maxixe Waltzes
Cha Cha Hesitation Pavlowana  
Dallas Dip (1913)      

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


1891 - Maxixeiras group Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers n/a
1905 - Mmes. Derminy & Paule Morley 1935 - Virginia Goletz  
1909 - L. Duque (Antônio Lopes de Amorim Diniz) & Gaby 1960's - Barrie Chase  
1910 - Delrio & Luis Gaby Duque  
1913 - Arlette Dorgère (w/ Duque) Fred W. Sutor  
1913 - Mouvet & Walton Mr. & Mrs. John Murray Anderson  
1914 - Vernon & Irene Castle Nena Neves  
1916 - Mazie King & Ted Doner Pedro Dias  

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...



Date Published


Modern Dancing Castles, Vernon 1914 Harper Brothers
Social Dancing of Today Kinney, Troy 1914 Frederick A.S tokes & Co.
The Tango & New Ballroom Dances Mouvet, Maurice 1914 Laird & Lee
Fatima moving picture dance book: the Maxixe  (Flip Book) Liggett & Myers 1914 Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company
Colliers Magazine F. Scott Fitzgerald 5/27/1922 (Note: Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons article)
Saturday Evening Post F. Scott Fitzgerald 12/29/1928  
Let's Dance Thomas, Bob 1954 Grosett & Dunlap
Dancing Till Dawn Malnig, Julie 1992 N.Y. University Press

Musicians,. Composers Etc.


Poets / Writers

Ernesto Nazaré n/a F. Scott Fitzgerald

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

external Links

Cafe Society Modern Dancing (1900's) n/a Arte Manhas
Castles Gherkin (Maxixe)   Lingua Portuguesa
La Souresse Mascaras   Princeton EDU  (Flip Books)


  • Basic Steps:
    (Leader left foot, follower right foot, leader faces follower, leader starts forward).
    basically a double quick march or two step with a polka like skip in each step, done as rapidly as possible,
    while moving forward, backward and turning. It's character step is the heel-and-toe figure.

  • Below is an excerpt from Maurice Mouvet's 1914 Book:
    "For the first figure, the gentleman places his right hand around his partner's waist just as
    far as he possibly can, she facing him. His left hand and her right are outstretched--in the
    manner in which many dancers improperly outstretch them for the tango. The gentleman's
    left foot is far advanced, resting on the heel with the tip of the foot raised. The left knee is
    bent. His body is bent forward in a veritable crouch. The position of the gentleman.

    This diagram shows the gentleman's footsteps in the opening figure of the Moseys (?). The
    left foot in the original position rests on the heel, the left knee being bent and the gentleman's
    body bent forward from the waist line in a crouching position. His partner faces him. The
    steps are the ordinary Two Steps , only somewhat longer. For this step might be described
    as a lunge. It is important to remember that his right arm should encircle his. The gentleman's
    footsteps in the second figure of the Maxixe. Each step is characterized by a slight hop and
    the couple sway from side to side from the hip as they execute this figure. The first step brings
    the right foot up to the left and the second advances the left foot again. The figure consists of
    eight two-steps, the gentleman advancing all the time.

    The second figure comprises another eight two-steps, only the steps are somewhat longer
    than those used in the ordinary two-step, and with each step the gentleman sways his body
    from the waistline alternately right and left. The figure is danced in a circle. The lady also sways
    her body, but not quite as much as her partner. This swaying of the body is one of the
    characteristic features of the Maxixe." end.

    Excerpted from Troy Kinney's Social Dancing of Today (1914):
  • 1. Execute the first measure with the body somewhat supple, and a good deal of rise and sink in the steps. The effect may be varied by inclining the body rather sinuously from side to side.

  • 2. A Flying Two-Step: a two-step in which the advanced foot points upward, touching the heel to the floor in alternate steps, the intervening steps pointing the toe downward--except on turns; eight are not too many.

  • 3. Man's steps: Starting in first position, advance right foot to fourth position
    (1); glide left foot to second position
    (2); glide right foot to posterior third position
    (3); carry left foot to posterior fourth position, pause en attitude, and, plant it, transferring weight to it and raising right (advanced) foot, point down

  • Woman's steps: Advance left foot to posterior fourth position
    (1); glide right foot to second position
    (2); glide left foot to posterior third position
    (3); plant right foot in anterior fourth position and raise the left foot from the floor
    (4). During the pause on "4," the woman leans slightly forward. Until the third beat, her steps are the converse of the man's. Then, it will be noted, her position becomes the same as the man's: each, through a half-beat, is supported on the right foot, the left extended back en attitude. The count of "4" again finds the couple in converse positions, the man's right foot being pointed forward while the woman's is extended back.

An Arch a La Pirouette. Holding his partner's right hand in his left hand, the man executes four Polka Steps forward; while the woman, by means of four Polka Steps, makes a complete turn toward her left. The engaged hands are raised to allow her to pass under the arms. end

The "Brazilian Maxixe" Characteristic style (1) A Dip (2) Variations
[ More Photos ]

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