Wednesday 24 February 2010

Skipping the light fandango

We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels 'cross the floor

I couldn't resist the words from the Procul Harum's first song "A Whiter Shade of Pale", and now of course I have it running through my mind all day long.  The couple on the card weren't skipping the light fandango, not even the light fantastic, but according to the back of the card they were dancing the fandango in the Basque country, le Pays Basque, near Biarritz.

"Fandango" is a word I can remember my grandmother using but not in association with dance.  She used it to mean something foolish or a big fuss, but here we have a couple dancing the fandango without any fuss.  You can see how the association may have happened though, depending, of course, on your point of view.

The Fandango could be considered to be the national dance of the Basque country, a blend between folk and flamenco originating in the 17th century in Spain.  The music is provided by a three-hole flute, a txistu or chistu, played with the left hand while the right hand beats a drum suspended from the left elbow.  It sounds like the musical equivalent of rubbing your stomach while patting your head.

In Spain the dancers would be accompanied by a tambourine or castanets, while in the Philippines where they dance a version called Pandango sa Ilaw they balance oil lamps or candles in glasses.

The card itself was sent from Hendaye, the most south-westerly town in France, on 8 August 1958 to Réverende Soeur Thérèse d'Avila in Bordeaux.  The message reads:
Peutêtre est-il temps que la série commence!  Le mois de juilllet fut très calme mais maintenant!!!! je me promène avec un ouragan!  Vivement la Grèce!  

Perhaps it's time to start the series!  The month of July was very quiet but now!!!! I am walking in the midst of a whirlwind!  Roll on Greece!
I imagine all sorts of stories surrounding this message, but I feel sure it must be a pupil keeping in touch with a teacher after leaving school, maybe heading for a year away from home? 

F is for Fandango.  A post for ABC Wednesday.

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  1. I think it's great fun to imagine who sent the card and why. And your explanation sounds very plausible!

  2. What a fun thing to have! I love the message on the back, perhaps written by quite a young person? I first thought they meant a real whirlwind, but I suppose they mean just very very busy! LOL!

    On behalf of the team, thanks for taking part in ABC Wednesday this week! :)

  3. I think maybe that pupil is having a bit of fun before they go.

  4. You certainly bring the cards to life, and so very informative. I enjoy my visits.

  5. Fandango. What a Fun word regardless of what it means!

  6. I DO so love that song, but never thought about the meaning of the dance. (I lived near a town called Vestal, and we wondered if there were Vestal virgins.)

  7. I love old pictures like this.

  8. Learn a new word today, thanks to you!

  9. An interesting post. I remember hearing the word fandango used with reference to events other than dances. Great picture!

  10. I thought of Queen before Procul Harum:

    "Scaramouch, Scaramouch, will you do the Fandango
    Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening me"

  11. great post! i love the old picture too !

  12. I like the way you give you so much interesting information. I drove from Paris once all the way down the coast of France into Spain...such fun I had! Didn't dance the fandango, though I might have tried if I had the opportunnity!

  13. Like this old postcards/
    Have a nice weekend/
    Ulla & Brian Sweden

  14. I never heard of this dance. I only know Flamengo.


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