Alice in Wonderland

Any day is good day for a mad tea party or an "unbirthday"!  Special Alice days, however, are July 4th, the day of the "Golden Afternoon" which inspired Lewis Carroll to devise his story of a little girl tumbling down a rabbit hole, or November 26,  the day of the initial publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.   
Scroll all the way down for Chapter 10's "The Lobster Quadrille."
And for a collection of curious and curiouser Alice in Wonderland themed Scottish tartans, click here!
Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?  
~The Lobster Quadrille
The Lobster Quadrille - G. W. Backhouse, 1951

Above: G. W. Backhouse, 1951

Selected Dances

(click for more holiday folklore and background information)

Cabbages and Kings

A summer's day boating ride on the "Isis" (the River Thames) in 1862 was the day of the "Golden Afternoon" which inspired Lewis Carroll to write down the fanciful stories he told to the Dean of Oxford's three daughters, Ina, Edith, and the forever immortalized Alice, in his stories "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There."   Lewis Carroll was the pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, author and mathematician at Christ Church University, Oxford, where he made the acquaintance of the Dean of Christ Church and Vice-Chancellor of Oxford's family. Though the extent to which Dodgson's Alice may be or could be identified with Liddell is controversial, her full name does appear in an acrostic poem at the end of Through the Looking-Glass, "A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky".

Cabbages and Kings

Alice Liddell's Birthday

The Cheshire Cat

Along with the Mona Lisa, one of the most famous smiles belongs to the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, known for its distinctive mischievous grin, which lingers even as the cat itself disappears. The expression "grinning like a Cheshire Cat" predates the story, and has many origin theories, including the one favoured by the people of Cheshire, which boasts numerous dairy farms - cats in Cheshire grin because of the abundance of milk and cream.   Another theory relates to a time when cheese formerly sold in Cheshire was moulded like a grinning cat. The cheese was traditionally cut from the tail end, so that the last part eaten was the head of the smiling cat. 😸

The Cheshire Cat

World Smile Day

The Mad Hatter

Mad Hatter Day, October 6th, was derived from the original illustrations of the Hatter (with its hanging price tag "10/6" translating from 10 shillings 6 pence to this date in the month/day format) from Lewis Carroll's classic fantasy story, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The expression, "mad as a hatter," a term which predates Carroll's stories, lives on in the terms "Mad hatter disease," or "mad hatter syndrome," which describe occupational chronic mercury poisoning symptoms common amongst hat makers whose felting work involved prolonged exposure to mercury vapors.  The characteristic neurotoxic effects included tremor, pathological shyness, and irritability (and perhaps unanswerable riddles ;-)

The Mad Hatter

Mad Hatter Day

A Curious and Nonsensical Index of Dances

(click for dance description or cribs)

For the dance description of the Lobster Quadrille, see below from Chapter 10:

The Mock Turtle sighed deeply, and drew the back of one flapper across his eyes. He looked at Alice, and tried to speak, but for a minute or two sobs choked his voice. 'Same as if he had a bone in his throat,' said the Gryphon: and it set to work shaking him and punching him in the back. At last the Mock Turtle recovered his voice, and, with tears running down his cheeks, he went on again:—

You may not have lived much under the sea—' (I haven't,' said Alice)—'and perhaps you were never even introduced to a lobster- -' (Alice began to say 'I once tasted—' but checked herself hastily, and said 'No, never') '—so you can have no idea what a delightful thing a Lobster Quadrille is!'

'No, indeed,' said Alice. 'What sort of a dance is it?'

'Why,' said the Gryphon, 'you first form into a line along the sea-shore—'

'Two lines!' cried the Mock Turtle. 'Seals, turtles, salmon, and so on; then, when you've cleared all the jelly-fish out of the way—'

'That generally takes some time,' interrupted the Gryphon.

'—you advance twice—'

'Each with a lobster as a partner!' cried the Gryphon.

'Of course,' the Mock Turtle said: 'advance twice, set to partners—'

'—change lobsters, and retire in same order,' continued the Gryphon.

'Then, you know,' the Mock Turtle went on, 'you throw the—'

'The lobsters!' shouted the Gryphon, with a bound into the air.

'—as far out to sea as you can—'

'Swim after them!' screamed the Gryphon.

'Back to land again, and that's all the first figure,' said the Mock Turtle, suddenly dropping his voice; and the two creatures, who had been jumping about like mad things all this time, sat down again very sadly and quietly, and looked at Alice.

'It must be a very pretty dance,' said Alice timidly.

'Would you like to see a little of it?' said the Mock Turtle.

'Very much indeed,' said Alice.

'Come, let's try the first figure!' said the Mock Turtle to the Gryphon. 'We can do without lobsters, you know. Which shall sing?'

'Oh, you sing,' said the Gryphon. 'I've forgotten the words.'

So they began solemnly dancing round and round Alice, every now and then treading on her toes when they passed too close, and waving their forepaws to mark the time, while the Mock Turtle sang this, very slowly and sadly:—

'"Will you walk a little faster?" said a whiting to a snail. "There's a porpoise close behind us, and he's treading on my tail. See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance! They are waiting on the shingle—will you come and join the dance? Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance? Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?

 

"You can really have no notion how delightful it will be When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!" But the snail replied "Too far, too far!" and gave a look askance— Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance. Would not, could not, would not, could not, would not join the dance. Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance. '

 

"What matters it how far we go?" his scaly friend replied. "There is another shore, you know, upon the other side. The further off from England the nearer is to France— Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance. Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance? Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?"'

Jan    Feb    Mar    Apr    May    Jun    Jul    Aug    Sep    Oct    Nov    Dec

The majority of dance descriptions referenced on this site have been taken from the

 

Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary or the

Scottish Country Dancing Database 

 

Snapshots of dance descriptions are provided as an overview only.  As updates may have occurred, please click the dance description to be forwarded to a printable dance description or one of the official reference sources.

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