All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Mind your step.....

Stiletto heels                               Image via Wikipedia
Something that struck me when I was first in France...before it faded into the background of normality...was the popularity of dancing.
There was always the bal populaire on July 13th after the fireworks where the activity would keep going until the small hours....the couscous supper and dancing organised by the PTA (well, parents d'eleves to be precise)...and the bacchanalia of the annual fire brigade ball.
Even the Croix d'Or  (sort of Alcoholics Anonymous) had a dance, which confirmed my view that it was not just the alcohol consumption which made the feet fly faster as the night went on.
It was an intoxication of another sort...that of sheer pleasure.

The revival of traditional dancing took place while I was there...rondes, schottisches, two steps, to the point at which it is no longer something that figures as a curiosity at local fetes but has regular evening sessions where you are warned that the only respite will be mulled wine and a brioche at midnight!
Age is no barrier.
Most of those circling the room are well over fifty, while the perennial success of the 'the dansants' of the old age pensioners' clubs keep many a village hall in business.
They have a lot of energy, these French pensioners.

But dancing can have its hazards.....and not the ones you might expect seeing tidal waves of people advancing and retreating in the Argentinean Tango having, usually, drink taken.

Recently, at an OAPs' dance, there was an altercation which ended up in court.
A gentleman in his sixties was supposed to have shoved a lady of 70 not once but twice when she was visiting the ladies loo. The second time she collided with a table, fracturing her wrist.

She claims to have had to undergo treatment not only for the wrist but also for anxiety and depression and would like 2000 Euros in damages.
The prosecution wants the judges to award the gentleman four months in prison as well.

Oddly enough, in a previous case, the prosecution only sought a three months spell in jug for a drunken driver who has a death by drunk driving in his previous, so there might be something in the claim made by the defense lawyer that the gentleman is being discriminated against as being an immigrant.

The part which interests me is that between shoves one and two, the lady in question took off her shoe and counter attacked. The gentleman appeared in court with scars to his head and arms. Apparently, at 70, the lady still wears high heels.

The gentleman claims legitimate self defence and points out that the lady has previous on the dance an earlier encounter, some months previously, two couples bumped into each other while dancing.
Lady with her partner, gentleman with his.
The lady expressed her displeasure by giving the gentleman's partner two hearty clips round the ear.

The judges will give their verdict in January and goodness only knows what the outcome will be but what fascinates me is firstly that the lady in question still dances in high heels at 70 and secondly that she was still lithe enough to take off one shoe, balance on the other foot and give a good account of herself at the same time!

Who needs Kung Fu!
Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. There's a joke there about break dancing...

  2. Man I wish I could find the dancing here. I've managed a bit of salsa, and have come across a few Tangoers (in their high heels) but not much else. Maybe this is more popular in the smaller villages. Maybe I'm just not invited because somebody spotted me trying to make my way down the cobbled streets on my birthday last year. It wasn't a very impressive site and you made me laugh thinking about the 70 year old dame balancing and battling.

  3. Delana, there seemed to be two patterns for elderly ladies where I lived...ample and not quite so the image I have of her amuses me a lot!
    I'm not sure about the dancing's still very popular in the country areas, but that's up in the wilds...though I never came across that would be worth watching...ample ladies partnering their husbands who still wear their caps on the dance floor.

  4. You wouldn't think dancing could be so violent would you?

    I love ballroom dancing and am an avid viewer of Strictly Come Dancing. I learned a bit of ballroom in my teens but got bored. I wish I had looks so enjoyable.

  5. Ayak, I used to like watching it...but I'm a two left footer...

  6. Two left feet here too, Fly, but the local French pensioners definitely know how to dance and well into the small hours as you say. They put MOH and me to shame. They are very restrained though, no pushing and shoving and definitely no high heels - at least not the kind that would inflict serious injury.

  7. Perpetua, I've never seen it come to blows, either, but you're right, they are indefatigable!

  8. Fly, when I lived in France there was no finer sight than Monsieur L, the small, rotund village mechanic, in full 'jive'. Boy, that man could move!

  9. P(V)LiF, and something the 'living the dream'ers never saw!

  10. Respect to the 70 yr old lady dancing in her heels. I never, even in my young days, mastered the art of walking in them, let alone dancing! Antoinette

  11. Niall and Antoinette, nor me!

    My father used to refer to wearing high heels as being akin to footbinding, so I didn't try them until I left home.....and nearly went base over apex.
    End of experiment.

  12. I have about 2,346 regrets about things not done in life, and one of them is not having learned to be a good dancer. Like many males, I'm lousy.
    Loved the shoes, BTW.

  13. Just goes to show that ll forms of dancing should be avoided.

    catching up after a very busy moth - thanks for sticking with the comments these last few weeks

  14. mrwriteon, Scottish country dancing...yes. More civilised
    On whom?

    Mark, my grandmother believed that dancing, together with playing cards, was the work of the devil.
    She probably had two left feet too.

    I'm still going back to some of your posts, to mull over things you say.