Old Moccasin Dance

The usual second dance at a Social and the favourite of the young-in-heart. The recording is of the “Old Songs” (Giyon), in contrast to a multitude of “New Songs” (ginu’sa) which appear briefly and then usually are forgotten. Another very commonly used English name for these songs is “Fish Dance”, not to be confused with “Fishing Dance”, another social. The head singer uses a water drum and is joined by an assistant and any other males (up to 8-10) using cow horn rattles who may wish to “prop up the songs”. The singers sit on two facing wood benches in the centre of the dance floor. Two men asked by the “push” lead the dancers. After they have danced single file for one song they are joined by many more pairs of men, most often close chums. After a song or two, pairs of women come forth and step between the men. Each woman will alternate with one of the men. The dance is very fast toe-heel step with considerable body movement. Half way through each song a brief change in tempo signals the dancers to change places with their partners. Thus for the second half of that song and first half of the next the female partner of the head male dancer leads the column. This switch is done in simple fashion by most: the leading partner steps aside for the other to dance ahead. But, again, the happy spirits of the best dancers will provide jaunty improvisations at this point; these are often comical and add to everyone’s enjoyment. Each song is sung twice in actual use but for space on the record only once. Nowadays, dancers all face forwards, with but rare exceptions. Formerly, the pairs faced one another so that the lead partner danced backwards until the change of place. This is still seen when the better dancers go on “Indian Shows”. There is another similar song set—Giyowa ‘dayanyu ‘ta—in which the women pick a partner from their male cousins, or lacking one present, a male friend. The songs are different but of the same genre.

Format is the same as with Moccasin Dance BUT the songs are different.

2 or more singers, usually about 6-10, in the middle, water drum and horn rattles

“Fish” step style of dancing

Single file, two men lead the dance, other men join in pairs

Women join the men, two at a time and join the line between the men so that the line eventually ends up as two men, two women, two men

Song changes beat and the men and women switch places, so that the women that started on the inside of two men, end up on the outside of two men

The song ends and the partners stay where they are until the next song, and they will switch places again, when the beat changes