Entertainment dances in Roztocze

Dancing was a very common form of entertainment, accompanying both festive gatherings (e.g., name days, weddings, harvest festivals) and everyday entertainments (e.g., feather ruffling, sauerkraut pickling, or simple dances). Ordering and paying for music for dancing was often a form of payment from the host for helping with the work. People in the countryside were a community in which they worked and played together. Dances were a common form of entertainment, and in villages with several hundred residents there were usually about 5-10 separate folk bands. Dance parties were usually held in larger houses, from which benches and tables were brought out to make as much space as possible. Dancing was done on the threshing floor, but due to the small amount of space, dancing was done by the person ordering (paying for the dance) and those who were invited to accompany them. Specific melodies were ordered by shouting (e.g., Majdaniak play!) or by singing a specific tune in the form of a chant (e.g., “Jak bede umiroł, to se każe zagrać, żeby mi sie było miło z tego światu zabrać”). According to the account of a traditional folk fiddler from Majdan Górny, Aleksandr Kowal, a so-called suit was often ordered, which consisted of a set of melodies played in a specific order. It was a waltz, polka, oberek or zipper and an additional tune, chosen by the band. After the “suit” was danced, the group of dancers changed, which the band had to play anew.

The suit consisted of the most typical and common dances. All of them were danced mainly in a whirling manner, either behind the right or left shoulder, in the first or second direction of the dance (so called “with the sun” or “against the sun”). The waltz is a dance of 3/8 meter, consisting of one or more parts. It was danced flat, without climbing on the toes. The polka, on the other hand, is a lively dance, in 2/4 meter, also in one or more parts. Polkas usually had their customary names (e.g., “Polka Wojtusiowa”, “Polka Siarczysta”, “Polka Wieśniak”); also typical in our country were Jewish polkas passed down and adopted from the Jewish community. Oberek is a three-part dance, in our area performed with even, sliding steps.

Unique to our area are the dances zwak and majdaniak. These are dances with triple meter. Majdaniak is defined as a dance identical to the oberek, with a slower tempo. The zipper, on the other hand, was usually reserved for older dancers, performed with a characteristic dragging of the leg, instead of a second step in tact relative to the oberek step. A peculiar type of melody from our area are travelers – their oberek character indicates that they can also be used at dance parties, but the tempo is often rubato. Dancers who had no difficulty adjusting to this specificity also used these tunes for dancing, but musicians often indicated that they were played to rest.