MacCannell, Neil (speech) - House parties around Lorne Valley | Bowing Down Home


File: maccannellneil-oh-houseparties_M.mp3


NM – Neil MacCannell

KP – Curator Ken Perlman

KP What was a house party like in those days?

NM Well, people gathered and fiddlers set up in a corner, Usually with a guitar player as accompaniment: and square dances right from start to finish, usually held in the kitchen. The set usually consisted of six couples, usually. That's about all that could get in the average kitchen. It went until one, two o'clock in the morning, usually, before it broke up.

KP What kind of dances did they do? I know there are several different kinds of square dances.’

NM Lancers, and Lancers was the one we were most familiar with.

KP Can you actually recreate from start to finish in your mind a typical house party, what they were like?

NM The house parties were usually during the winter in the slacker times. And an announcement would be made that this house party at such and such a home. And people usually traveled from a distance of three or four miles in horses and sleighs: in snowstorms, usually. And the fiddler usually came in a horse and sleigh too, and his fiddle would be so cold and full of frost that he'd have to warm it up over the old kitchen stove before he could even play it.

KP Bet that did the fiddle a lot of good.

NM Yeah, it certainly didn't. I'm thinking now, most of the dances I attended the fiddler was Jack Webster. He provided a good lively beat for the dancers, a real – Of course I got accustomed to his style, and we thought there was nobody like him. That's the way it is.

KP You said the fiddler warmed his violin up; then would he just go right to the fiddler's corner?

NM Yeah, he'd stay there, start playing and the people would get up and dance: pick their partner. The men would get up and pick their partners. The men would be on the floor first and then when the music started, the ladies would come up and join their partners. Of course they were asked before. They knew who their partner was going to be.

KP Were these were usually unmarried people?

NM Both.

KP Were they all ages?

NM Yes, all ages, even from teenage up to eighties some of them. Some of them could dance well, too.

KP Was it customary to just always dance with your spouse?

NM Usually one dance with your spouse, and eight or nine with somebody else's spouse (laughter): with several spouses, yeah.