Boys and Girls, Ladies and Gentlemen, Gather Round! It's Catherine's special day!
Which means the violinists are ready, the accordion is set, and the drums, just waiting to go! The traditional dances of Québec are sweeping everyone into a night of laughs, clapping and skipping.
In Rimouski, Québec, on the banks of the Saint-Laurent, while it's below 0°c outside, the temperature rises every year in the concert hall for the "Sainte Catherine". Here, young locals take part in a fired up celebration of their folk music.
Originally, in slightly (much) more conformist times, this dance had an added purpose: to get the unmarried women over 25 or so, out on the folk dance floor, so they could meet a handsome mate. Preferably one that can cook up a nice Poutine. These lucky ladies even got single-d out by wearing special hats, and you can here more about this subject (amongst other things) in the company of locals Aubert and Marie, in the dancy Rimouski Podcast ! (Also available on itunes and any good podcast app)
Saint Catherine was actually a Christian Saint who refused to be wed and died a martyr in Egypt in 305 A.D., when she was about 25. Hence why she's now the patron saint of all the single ladies (all the single ladies).
You can enjoy the singing of a few unmarried women in the following video, singing first of all about the hard labour of the harvest, and then, about an unruly man, making the one on the right to complain she's quite "bad-lucky", which is 'canadian-frenglish' for unfortunate.
So, in order of appearance we have: a choir of old unmarried ladies, following that, a couple of explanations of specific steps and grabs, after which, it's all very much up and dancing.
As you can see, everyone is invited to get involved with the hopping and swirling about, the man in the béret having made a good job of beefing up the atmosphere on the dance floor.
So, a band boasting quite a few violins, a big Irish drum, tipppidy-tappy tap-dancers, a guy on a guitar, the choir of young women dressed up as old hags, accordions... a festival a colour, music and jokes. To my very un-Quebecois eyes, this feels less like a night out, and more like a joyous miracle. People can here actually go out, have fun, dance, hold hands, run around together, -and this is the important bit- withtout having to be completely drunk to be able to cope with the awful pop music from the charts. On this dance floor, only moving melodies straight from the musicians' movements, to your ears.
And everyone's invited! Great dancers, terrible dancers, once-a-year dancers, backpacking bards melting in huge hiking shoes and seven layers of jumpers dancers... all will irresistibly join in.
Thanks for reading ! And viewing! And clapping along.
You can tap-dance your way to supporting this musical backpacking project over on the Patreon page.
The nice people at Cloud Music Ukuleles are helping us (Ben+big ukulele+small ukulele) to be #GoingNorth ! You can check out their ukes and such on their page.