At the dances and festivals of many savage peoples the moat shocking licentiousness was frequently indulged in. The young men and maidens painted themselves in the most brilliant and gaudy colors, like a lot of flamingoes, or other tropical birds, and, like the birds also, would not infrequently run away from their sport for awhile to have sexual intercourse with one another. Tasmanian dances were performed with the avowed purpose of exciting the sexual passion,* and those churches in recent times which resolutely Bet themselves against the pastime are wiser in their generation than is commonly supposed.1 All dancing excites the passions, particularly those modern Terpsichorean creations known as glides, two-steps, waltzes and other rag-time patter, not to speak of the wild can-can of Mabille; and, as in the Saturnalia and Floralia of Rome, heretofore alluded to as scenes of the wildest obscenity and licentiousness, have, as their ultimate tendency, the breaking down of social and religious restraint, and the free exercise of sexual liberty.
Among the Brazilian Uaupés, the women, while dancing, wear a gaudy little "tanga," or apron, of woven beads, which is taken off when the dance is over; and the Tahitian Areois—a kind of licensed libertines who lead a most licentious life, given up chiefly to lewd dances and pantomimes, in mimicry of the sexual act—put on a sort of yellow girdle of " ti " leaves while dancing, to facilitate those gestures and attitudes which are most suggestive.* In fact, as Professor Smith says,8 with many races the dance is nothing more nor less than a rude representation of sexual passion.
Some of the Tasmanian corroborées have a distinctly phallic design, and in the Yucatan dance of the naual, as in the Dionysian and Floralian orgies, the ladies grasp the men by the penis instead of the hand, in turning, a practice well calculated, we may be sure, to lend additional zest to the delightful exercise.
At certain Mexican feasts the "noblemen and women danced, tied together by the hands, and embracing one another, the arms being thrown over the neck " in well-defined imitation of the Greek " bracelet," or " brawl ;" and in this, as in other of the Mexican dances, the relation of the sexes is very clearly symbolized. In fact, although Locke points out the benefits to be derived from the pastime, in imparting to children "gracefulness of motion," as well as "manly thoughts and a becoming confidence,'" and although Homer calls it " the sweetest and most perfect of human enjoyments," from the Memphic and Hymenaeal dances of the ancients down to the latter day ballets, as well as the awe-inspiring contortions of the can.
1 Petrarch calls it the spur of lust—imctamentum tibidinis; and another alludes to it as "a circle, of which the devil himself is the center." Lucian tells us that Thais captivated Lamerías by her dancing, Herodiaa certainly did Herod, and Robert 0Í Normandy, riding through Falaise, and spying the village maid, Arietta, dancing on the green, was so enamored of her that, as the chronicler states, " he must needs lio with her that same night." From this escapade was bom William the Conqueror; and Owen Tudor, it is said, captured Queen Catherine's affection by his skill in dancing. It was so clearly recognized as an incentive to lust that Domitian forbade the Roman senators to dance; and Luc re tía openly boasted that she so bewitched a certain Roman merchant by her dancing that he offered her all his wealth for a single night with her—"pro concubito solo." can, or houtchi-coutchi, we are perfectly willing to endorse the sentiment of the early Albigenses of Languedoc, who called dancing "the devil's procession."1