In all ages, and among all races, dancing has been, and is, intimately related to the sexual life; and in almost all the works of those who have written on the latter theme it is first noticed.1 In many savage countries, as I have heretofore remarked, notably Australia and South Africa, the rhythmic movement, unlike smell, is not only a pronounced stimulant to tumescence, in both sexes, but, as a simple spectacle to those not engaged in it, is capable of producing the same result. Primitive dancing differed widely from that now in vogue. In the ballet, which may be taken as the type of the latter, the chief energy appears to be manifested in the muscles of the lower limbs, and is neither so vigorous nor so sexually exciting as the same movement among savages.
The Marquesan girls, as Herman Melville remarks, dance all over: their feet, arms, hands, fingers, even their very eyes seeming to partake in the movement; the kinesthetic forces being so exercised as to readily account for the impulse of sexuality which is well known to follow the dance among all savage, as well as civilized, peoples.
Holden remarks of the Kaffir dance that the perfection of the art seems to consist in "their being able to put every part of the body into motion at the same time; and as they are naked, the bystander has a good opportunity of observing the whole process, which presents a remarkably odd and grotesque appearance; the head, trunk, arms, legs, hands, feet, bones, muscles, skin, scalp and hair, all in motion at the same time; with feathers waving, tails of monkeys and wild beasts dangling, shields beating, and accompanied by whistling, shouting and leaping. There is perhaps no exercise in greater accord with the sentiments and feelings of a barbarous people, or more fully calculated to gratify their wild and ungoverned passions."'
Such a dance, as Sergi truthfully remarks,1 is a powerful agent on the organism, "because its excitation is general, because it touches every vital organ, the higher centers no longer dominating," and while deeply affecting the psycho-sexual life of a people, may also, as has been intimated by Mr. H. Ellis,1 so powerfully act upon their physical development as to produce, as indeed it does, not only great strength and muscular resiliency, but those platycnemic bone formations for which certain of the African tribes are noted.
* "Whoso would win a woman," remarks Castillo, "must learn to dance." Cupid himself is represented as an inveterate dancer; and it was while dancing among the other gods, according to Cone tan tine, that he threw down the bowl of nectar which turned, as the fable reads, the white rose red. In Lucian's description of Jupiter's rape of Enropa (torn, rv), by swimming from Phoenicia to Crete, the sea is represented calm, the winds hushed, Neptune and Amphitrite in their chariots, the tritons dancing, and the half-naked sea-nymphs and Cupid, himself, keeping time to the music of the Hv-meneus on the dolphins' back';. The most beautiful picture in St. Mark's, in Rome, represents a lovely naked woman, asleep, and troops of satyrs dancing about her.
Burton, in his "Anatomy of Melancholy," notes the fact that not only is dancing an incitement to love, but that love is an incitement to dancing;1 and it can hardly be doubted, whatever course of physiological or psychical reasoning may be adopted to account for it, that both in civilized and savage life there is something in the dance very strongly aphrodisiac.
Among the Australians, where it partakes most largely of the sexual character, where the men become furiously excited, not only by the beating of the boomerangs, but the practice of the women of keeping time by the clapping of their hands between their thighs, it is well known that an orgie of promiscuous sexual intercourse always follows it; and that such intercourse is recognized as an essential element, or finale, of these dances is proven by the fact that jealousy, on the part of the male, particularly, is strictly forbidden.'
Sed suavi Musicm super ingressa Venus saltavit: "as the Muses sang to the harp, Venus danced;" p. 577.
For the wild terpàchorean frenries of the devotees of Cybele and Dionysius, as related to sexuality, in addition to the authorities heretofore quoted, see, for easily accessible information, Smith's "Dictionary of Antiquities;" Lewis and Short's "Lexicon;" Semelaigne'a "L'Aliénation Mentale dans l'Antiquité," and White's "History of the Warfare of Science with Theology."