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Holand, Hjalmar Rued, 1872-1963 / Wisconsin's Belgian community : an account of the early events in the Belgian settlement in northeastern Wisconsin with particular reference to the Belgians in Door County
(1933)

Chapter VII: Belgian characteristics and customs,   pp. [81]-97 PDF (4.0 MB)


Page 93


   BELGIAN CHARACTERISTICS AND CUSTOMS       93
gallants to choose their partners for the first
dance. Let me say here that that is one command
that seems to me superfluous. If I am any judge
at all, this had been done two hours ago. Again
he commands, this time to attention and with a
flourish of the flag the music starts and the
dancers are off. There follow the many intricate
figures of the dance with August signalling the
changes in a penetrating bass. Coming down from
the dim past they come to me only sketchily but I
catch his "Grand rond!  Chaines des dames!
Quatres par quatres! A la main gauche! A la
main drit! Les dames en avant! Les cavaliers a'
la comptoir!"
    I am interested in young Delfosse's technique
as a conductor. With that first flourish of the
flag, not once has the bunting drooped or wavered.
Up and down, side to side, weaving numberless
figures, always to the beat of the music it travels.
It crackles and snaps with the vigor of his move-
ments like shots from a pistol.
    ("I will always believe that August Delfosse
never had an equal as flag man," said an old-timer.
"He was a heavy-set man and used his tremen-
dous energy in keeping that flag taut. It seems to
me, as I look back, that he kept those dancers
speeded up on his own vitality.  When August
called off, you knew you were dancing.")
    The music ends and with much laughing and
good-natured bantering, the crowd moves towards
the improvised hall for the balance of the day's
and evening's entertainment.
    Not yet are these new settlers prepared for
that second day of celebration, when the young
men contend for a bridle prize or the girls run
for handkerchiefs. It will be many years before
the horse supplants the ox as beast of burden.
"Courir la bride", they called the bridle race and
many an old farm nag unwittingly jousted for his
own ensnarement.   Too early also was it for
"Courir L'Poie", in which a live goose was the
victim.   The goose was anchored forty paces
away from the contestant. Blindfolded and equip-
ped with a scythe blade, the end of which was
Y


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