Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Butterfly (Dance)

I don't know why it popped into my head, but I found myself thinking about the Butterfly while eating my breakfast the other morning.

I don't mean "a" butterfly, the kind with wings. (The kind that's taken on an entirely different meaning/significance in my life these past 20 years, given their association with pregnancy and infant loss and bereavement.)

"The Butterfly" I'm thinking about is a dance -- a staple of every social (dance/party) & wedding I attended when I was growing up on the Canadian Prairies (pre-Chicken Dance, pre-Macarena). The fun part was you needed three people to do it. As a trio, you would hop-step around the dance floor, arms around each other, to some slowish fiddle music (I seem to remember "My Bonnie lies over the ocean" and "How much is that doggie in the window,"  lol).

Then the music would pause, & the fast music would start. It was the duty of the person in the middle to swing the other two people around -- first one person, then the other, then back to the first person again... until the slower music started up again, and you'd link arms & continue to hop-step around the dance floor. Until the fast music started up again. By the end, you were pretty much staggering around the dance floor ;) and it could get pretty interesting, depending on how much you'd had to drink (which is probably why butterflies were usually played later in the evening, lol). You also had to watch out not to crash into the threesomes around you, depending on how crowded the dance floor was.

I Googled "butterfly dance" to confirm my memories & see what else I could find out about it. I suspected it was probably a "Prairie thing," since I don't think I have ever done one in the 30+ years I have lived in southern Ontario. Socials are not a "thing" here, and although I've attended umpteen weddings, mostly for dh's Italian relatives, the DJ/band has never played a Butterfly at any of them. (I haven't been to too many weddings or socials "back home" in recent years, either, so I have no idea whether the Butterfly is still a thing there either, although I suspect it probably is.)

From Wikipedia, I found this:
The butterfly dance is a dance move in which the dancer's legs move like butterfly wings. The move originated from the music genre Hip-hop and is also commonly seen in reggae type music.[1] The dance is a female move but male individuals have been seen to execute the move. This dance move originated in the 70s.

Ummm, no. That's NOT it.

I found some references to a Hopi tribe butterfly dance.  That's not it either.

I eventually found a couple of Yahoo Answers posts and a Google groups conversation (by changing the search term slightly to "old-fashioned butterly dance") that explains what I was thinking  about.

I thought the Butterfly might be a Prairie/Ukrainian thing. One person suggested it could also have French-Canadian roots. 

However, I also found several references to a "butterfly waltz" (here and here) in the U.S., in Texas and Missouri (whose roots were said by one source to be German!)  and to a similar dance known as "The Flying Dutchman."

Here's a video clip of "my" kind of Butterfly dance:

This video only shows one round of the slower music & one round of the fast, though... typically there would be a couple rounds of each.

Have you ever heard of/done the Butterfly dance (the kind I've described -- definitely not the hip-hop version, lol)?? 

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(Writing about this, another butterfly-related memory popped into my head: a song. I will write about that in a future post.)


  1. We used to have old-fashioned dances when I was growing up, but I've never heard of that dance. It looks like fun!

  2. That looks like fun! Never heard of it before, EXCEPT the hip-hop version, ha! I was like, "oh, I know that dance..." The um, double butterfly was something I'd have to break up while chaperoning dances though. Yeesh. Funny how things remind you of stuff from before, right?

  3. That butterfly dance looks like square dancing for simple people. :D