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!
"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!
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
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.
is what, in our opinion, could perhaps become
a new definition of the danced "MUSETTE" :
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.
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".
this definition, we currently know of only two types of "Musette" :
the Marseille region in south-eastern France, the Racatti
: a style which incorporates many chassé steps
(shuffle steps) into different dances.
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.
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
the Paris region, with three dances :
note : the
word "toupie" means "spinning-top" in English.
you ever seen the little ballerina spinning on a music box ?
you watch the toupie being danced, that's the impression (a
little miraculous, even) you get as the steps flow along the floor.
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
is a difficult dance of great sobriety which demands discipline and
sometimes danced on the round tables in bistros.
It stems perhaps from the
Marseille Volante (we
cannot guarantee that this is correct)
Parisian samba or "little steps".
to different rhythms : samba, zouk, beguine, merengue, "spanish"
A very lively dance based on slipped steps !
guarantee that this is correct : it stems perhaps from the "corta-jaca"
steps of the "ballroom" samba, but using figures which are its
musette tango and musette bolero, danced identically and based on chassé
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.
help but notice the similarity between the six-time rock n'roll/swing
and the musette way of interpreting tangos and boleros.
are also almost certain that some people danced like this in Paris at
the end of the Second World War...
leave you to draw your own conclusions.
remains, for now, an important unanswered question in our opinion !
the Java ?
one say that the Java belongs to a particular form of musette ?
is danced all over France and certainly more in the provinces than in
the Parisian region, where it is only rarely played.
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 !
of the Java :
without doubt in Paris.
borrows a little from mazurka rhythms and figures.
to some, it originated from an Italian mazurka called the Rosina, which
its dancers waltzed with little steps.
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
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)...
of these dances, when properly danced, leave an impression of grace,
ease and good technique and always attract the attention of other
only know of two types of Musette, but
we hope that others
are in existence...
now that you are aware of this definition of the "danced
Musette", there's one more important point : we would like to hear
Tell us your experiences and your thoughts...
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.
don't hesitate to get in touch by e-mail, letter or
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