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Watch a Most Violent Dinner-Party Dance

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Let's "settle this dispute with a dance-off" is popular retort from pacifists the world over. A reasonable method to resolve longstanding grudges or incidents of dishonor. 

But as you can see in this video, these dancers appear to take their duel a step further. The video begins as the female protagonist angrily stomps her foot, which encourages the man, now in shot, to lock eyes on the dance floor. Onlookers in evening dress look puzzled. After a few moves, the man grabs the woman by the throat and seems to throw her across the room. This is the Apache Dance.

Don't worry! The violence between the two is fake, and a tribute to the original Apache Dance that was created in early 20th-century Paris. A Paris of cabaret dancers, knife-wielding criminals and plenty of vice.

Stanford University dance instructor Richard Powers has traced the genesis of the dance back to a woman called Mistinguette. Rather than representing violence towards the woman, the dance portrayed the female partner as making a statement: she would not be confined to the home and could stand up to a man in the domestic and public sphere. 

As you can see from the video, the dance is fought on equal terms. Each partner is slapped, hurled and has their hair pulled. But there is only one winner: our woman protagonist leaves the man in a heap on the floor, face down. The video ends as she saunters off with the loot.  

Every day we track down a Video Wonder: an audiovisual offering that delights, inspires, and entertains. Have you encountered a video we should feature? Email ella@atlasobscura.com.


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