Spank the Folk Dancer

The Fricassée is a traditional Provençal folk dance in which the participants spend a lot of time hitting one another before kissing and making up at the end. According to folk dance scholars, it symbolizes the perennial conflict between summer and winter. According to anyone else watching, the dance portrays the battle of the sexes, with escalating exchanges of blows before the final reconciliation.

The first and longest phase of the dance involves a lot of mutual face slapping, before the men decide to assert themselves by smacking the women’s bottoms. And when that doesn’t have the desired effect, it’s time for the ultimate sanction: spanking!

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And that seems to do the trick!

As always with dance, and especially folk dancing, there’s a lot of room for variation, which means that not every performance will follow that specific, progressive sequence. But here are a couple that do, more or less:

But if you want to see the Fricassée at its very best, seek out the veteran Marseille troupe Li Gai Farandoulaire, who were founded in 1963 and who perform at folk festivals all over Europe. In the version that’s a regular part of their repertoire, the spankings usually have a welcome touch of European sophistication:

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Or putting it another way, the girls’ skirts are whisked up and they get spanked on the seat of their bloomers!

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Here they are performing in Carcassonne in Languedoc in the summer of 2015:

Applause, please, for Li Gai Farandoulaire!

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