If you heard the song attached on part 1 of this blog, you can imagine it as a bridge between the first versions heard in the late 1700's in Congo Square, and Colinda the modern Cajun rock'n'roll song made famous by Rod Bernard in 1962. The inspiration to record this tune came from imagining how this song morphed from Congo Square to a lullaby in Lafayette, to Cajun rock'n'roll, and how many peoples of Louisiana and the Caribbean have their own version of the song and the dance.
Here's a few of the historical references to the dance that can be found in researching the name in it's various spellings:
In Louisiana, the Calinda was a war-dance in which men alone took part, stripped to the waist and brandishing sticks in a mock fight, while at the same time balancing upon their heads bottles filled with water from which one drop spilled put the participant hors de combat. Later the Calinda assumed more and more an objectionable character, until it was finally prohibited inthe Place Congo in New Orleans about the eighteen-forties. But I have it from the lips of an old darky once an expert at the Calinda, that there was much sport in it at the stage of dancin with water-filled bottles, and that the last remaining dancer well deserved to have the water in his bottle replaced by good 'tafia' (whiskey) to celebrate his victory." [p vii]
1921 ed. with the collaboration of Kurt Schindler, Bayou Ballads: Twelve Folk-Songs From Louisiana, New
York: G. Schirmer, Inc.
There were other dances. Only a few years ago I was honored with an invitation, which I had to decline, to see danced the Babouille, the Cata (or Chacta), the Counjaille, and the Calinda. Then there were the Voudou, and the Congo, to describe which would not be pleasant. The latter, called Congo also in Cayenne, Chica in San Domingo, and in the Windward Islands confused under one name with the Calinda, was a kind of Fandango, they say, in which the Madras kerchief held by its tip-ends played a graceful part.
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 [of] 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 Creole’s 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, [p. 528] every morning, a certain black marchande des calas—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.
[A MUSICAL SCORE IS INSERTED AT THIS POINT.]
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 Calindá! Boujoum! Boujoum!’
The number of stanzas has never been counted; here are a few of them.
'Dans l’equirie la 'y’ avé grand gala;
Mo cré choual la yé t b’en étonné.
Miché Preval, li té capitaine bal;
So cocher Louis, té maite cérémonie.
Y avé des négresse belle passé maitresse,
Qui volé bel-bel dans l’ormoire momselle.
Ala maite la geole li trouvé si drole,
Li dit, 'moin aussi, mo fé bal ici.’
Ouatchman la yé yé tombé la dans;
Yé fé gran’ déga dans léquirie la.’ etc.
'It was in a stable that they had this gale 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 funy that he proposed to himself to take an unexpected part; the watchmen came down’—