It’s time to learn about the places I once called home (and still do in my heart): Ohio and Michigan. Each week or so I’ll try to share a story or tradition or factoid from those lands. I’ll call it “Midwestern Monday Minute,” for the sake of alliteration but I am of the opinion that Ohio and Michigan are less Midwestern culturally than part of their own Great Lakes region. More about that in an upcoming installment.
Appropriately for a Monday at the start of the month, this week I will be introducing to the world a dance for BTO’s song “Takin’ Care of Business” which I learned during social events at the Catholic student parish I attended whilst at MSU. The “Alligator Dance,” sometimes called “Crocodile Dance,” (despite the physiological differences, most experts agree that alligators and crocodiles dance the same) is a simple, childish dance, with humorous effect. Wikipedia notes that it is popular in the Saginaw Valley and UP but mentions no origin. Everyone probably has their theories, but as this it is of the sort of antic that cousins and family friends think up at wedding receptions, I’m sure it started in a community center on a happy day in Marquette, MI…but that’s just my theory.
The dance is simple and uses the beat “clap, clap, clap-clap-clap” once at each step, unless noted.
1)Start standing up, clapping your hands to the above rhythm once.
2) Now do the same on your upper thighs.
3) Knell on the ground and hit the floor to the beat.
4)Lay on your stomach and hit the floor the same way.
5) Shake your right leg in the air to the beat.
6) Roll on your back and flail all your limbs in the air without attention to rhythm but within the same time frame as the beat would hold.
7) Roll on to your stomach and shake your left leg in the air to the beat.
8 ) Lay on your stomach, pound the ground.
9) Knees pound the ground.
Repeat and if you’re good other people will join you.
Clearly this dance is not the wisest for those who need to keep their clothing free of floor dirt, but it is good fun to do and to watch.
So there is your Midwestern Monday Minute (or two).
You other placers out there…share a tradition from your area. Perhaps another goofy wedding dance?