As a sociologist, I’ve done my best to experience the culture of Québec, mostly by repeatedly throwing myself into it. I had the opportunity to meet some actual Montréal residents at the Comic-Con a few months ago, and since then I’ve had the chance to experience a lot more of what the city has to offer. In my opinion, the people who live in a city know the cool places to hang out. Recently, I was invited out for a night of traditional folk dancing out in the Plateau neighborhood, which wasn’t what I had expected at all. I don’t do much formal dancing, and never have, so this was a learning experience as well as a cultural one. It was also an excellent break from the bitter cold that’s been moving in.
The colonial residents of Québec were mostly from Northern France, and brought their customs with them when they moved across the Atlantic. Very little has changed over four hundred years, and so “traditional” in Québec is often the same as what’s considered “traditional” in Brittany or Normandy. The dancing was very similar to square dancing; a group of four pairs goes around in circles. Growing up in Ohio, I have done a bit of square dancing, at least in gym class, and so it wasn’t too unfamiliar. The person “au call” would call out dance steps in French, all accompanied by violin, piano, and accordion. The dancing and the loud wooden floor made it a bit hard to hear, and so I needed some translation to start out. After a few dances, it got easier and easier. Most everyone there was in pretty casual attire, not in any sort of festival clothing, and so it really felt like an updated traditional dance.
Although this was be the only time I’ll be able to go (it’s the third Thursday of every month) I kind of wish I could stay a bit longer so I could dance again!
This website is in French but you can still watch the video: