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Let's not talk about the paso-doble, the French waltz, the ballroom tango etc., which are social dances...in the same breath as the musette dances any longer!

The "Musette" is not a badly-performed ballroom dance.
The "Musette" is not a downgraded sporting dance (or Dancesport).
The "Musette" is different : it's something else!

We make no value judgments here : for a dancer, a beautiful waltz will always remain a beautiful waltz, but it will never be a Toupie (see below) !!!  
On the other hand, you'll rarely see a "toupilleur" (a Toupie dancer) doing a waltz : he gets more pleasure from dancing the Toupie...
When a Racatti dancer waltzes, it's something completely different from a toupilleur's or ballroom dancer's waltz.

Here is what, in our opinion, could perhaps become
a new definition of the danced "MUSETTE" :

a group of dances which can be danced to music played in various places called "retro", but whose steps differ from those of ballroom dances (or retro, social, partner, sporting...) which are taught in dance schools.

Explanatory note : in France, the adjective "rétro" suffers the connotation of "old, retired people", their dances and culture. But in the USA and the UK, "retro" refers to a fashionable culture of clothing, music and dancing typically from the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's which attracts many young people. A "retro" dance event will normally be attended by much younger people than in France, some even in their 20's. The closest translation of "rétro" is the english term "tea dance".

Using this definition, we currently know of only two types of "Musette" :

From the Marseille region in south-eastern France, the Racatti : a style which incorporates many chassé steps (shuffle steps) into different dances.
Origins :

The name comes from a district of Marseille close to St. Charles station where this style came into being (the Racatti operetta). To evoke the feeling of this district, Vincent Scotto had created the "waltz of quick, small steps", a.k.a. the "Marseille Racatti" which was made popular by Alibert.

It appears that a form of toupie existed in Marseille called the "volante", perhaps coming from Piedmont, Italy...
The description we have is very sketchy.
Please, contact us if you have more information!

 

 From the Paris region, with three dances :

the "toupie", danced to "waltz-style" music...
Explanatory note : the word "toupie" means "spinning-top" in English.
Have you ever seen the little ballerina spinning on a music box ?
If you watch the toupie being danced, that's the impression (a little miraculous, even) you get as the steps flow along the floor.
If you dance it, you are carried away by a marvellous sensation of a merry-go-round, the impression of gliding in perfect harmony with your dance partner.
It is a difficult dance of great sobriety which demands discipline and precision.
Origins :

It was sometimes danced on the round tables in bistros.

It stems perhaps from the Marseille Volante (we cannot guarantee that this is correct)

the Parisian samba or "little steps".
Danced to different rhythms : samba, zouk, beguine, merengue, "spanish" samba...
A very lively dance based on slipped steps !
Origins :

We cannot guarantee that this is correct : it stems perhaps from the "corta-jaca" steps of the "ballroom" samba, but using figures which are its own...

the musette tango and musette bolero, danced identically and based on chassé steps.
An impression of dynamism and lightness emanates from the musette tango.
In addition, the rhythm of the bolero can be applied perfectly well to this form of movement.

Origins :

One can't help but notice the similarity between the six-time rock n'roll/swing and the musette way of interpreting tangos and boleros.
We are also almost certain that some people danced like this in Paris at the end of the Second World War...
We'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.
This remains, for now, an important unanswered question in our opinion !

And the Java ?
Can one say that the Java belongs to a particular form of musette ?
It is danced all over France and certainly more in the provinces than in the Parisian region, where it is only rarely played.
But for pity's sake, let's try to forget the "quaint" way of holding one's lady partner with one's hands on the lady's buttocks in favour of learning the other body positions and the multitude of little steps which make up the dance !  

Java, what are you doing there ?

Origins of the Java :

Born without doubt in Paris.

It borrows a little from mazurka rhythms and figures.

According to some, it originated from an Italian mazurka called the Rosina, which its dancers waltzed with little steps.

According to others, it was just a throw-back to the « chaloupeuse » which was already danced in the 19th century at the Vieux Chêne at 69, rue Mouffetard.

One should avoid confusing it with the "chaloupeuse waltz" created by Max Dearly at the Moulin Rouge with Mistinguett (the famous French lady singer and dancer)...

All of these dances, when properly danced, leave an impression of grace, ease and good technique and always attract the attention of other dancers.

We only know of two types of Musette, but we hope that others are in existence...

And now that you are aware of this definition of the "danced Musette", there's one more important point : we would like to hear from you.
Tell us your experiences and your thoughts...
We will check the information and anecdotes you provide about the Musette and then incorporate them in order to enrich this site, so that everybody can benefit.
So don't hesitate to get in touch by e-mail, letter or telephone...

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