Dirndl skirts for the girls, lederhosen for the men and a joyous upbeat dance involving a great deal of slapping? It can only be the schuhplattler, a folk dance popular in Bavaria and the Tirol, in which the participants wear traditional Alpine costumes…
… and slap the soles of their own shoes a lot. For the name of the dance, schuhplattler, translates literally as ‘shoe-slapping’. But don’t be disappointed, because sometimes the girls find their fellow dancers aiming a little higher. Witness this incident in New York:
New York? Yes, the schuhplattler has traveled the world and can be seen at many an Oktoberfest in many a place where the first language has never been German. But for choice, the place to go see it performed is the San Francisco Bay area of California.
Founded in 1953 by European migrants, the schuhplattler group associated with the Nature Friends organization in Oakland and San Francisco performs ten to twelve times a year, mainly at Nature Friends events. And since the very beginning, their signature dance has involved this:
They even call it, informally, ‘the spanking dance’!
It’s choreographed for four couples, and fittingly, since the schuhplattler was originally a courtship dance, it begins with the men showing their affection by kissing the girls, before going off to do some same-sex shoe-slapping in the middle. Unimpressed with this, the girls creep up behind them and kick them in the rear. And that can mean only one outcome:
And sometimes, if the girls are really out of luck:
OK, it’s not really that much of a misfortune, because the spanking is usually simulated: the men smack their own left hands rather than the girls’ bottoms. Most of the time, anyway…
Applause, please, for the Nature Friends Schuhplattler group, and long may they continue to perform the ‘spanking dance’! (And for more spanking in traditional European folk dancing, go here.)