Dancing has been part of human civilisation for thousands of years. Around the world, in every culture, there’s always dancing; whether that be for group bonding, to attract the opposite sex or simply to have a good time (although where exactly the Macarena fits into this is a mystery).
In this series, we’ll be looking at dances that have emerged for other reasons – to recount combat tales, for religious expression or as an excuse for cross-dressing. Please join us as we twerk our way around some of the world’s more unusual dances:
Schuhplattler | Germany
Schuhplattler is a traditional German folk dance from Bavaria. Usually, schuhplattler displays feature groups of men slapping themselves (and sometimes each other) on the knees, the thighs and the soles of their shoes. Amazingly, the dance is probably over a thousand years old – it was first described in 1050AD. It’s nice to know that schuhplattler has such a long history (because it would seem even stranger if it had been invented in, say, 1995).
There’s a version of schuhplattler called watschenplattler where, in addition to the thigh and foot slapping, the dancers also smack each other firmly on the bottom. To achieve this, one of the dancers will remain upright, while the other hangs upside down and curls underneath him – a tricky move to get right, but the only way to ensure simultaneous bum drumming.
(Skip to 2:50 for the good bit:)
It’s not clear whether lederhosen are compulsory in watschenplattler, but it wouldn’t be the same without them.
These dances originated in the Alpine region as a courtship display, although it’s difficult to imagine who the participants were hoping to attract. One can only hope that the amorous young Germans remembered to wash their hands after touching their shoes (and after touching the other men’s bottoms).