2014, Dance Customs at Weddings in Gdansk

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Gotffried Taubert who lived some years in Danzig (Gdansk), wrote this sentence in his dance – manual book „Rechtschaffener Tantzmeister” published in 1717. He also mentioned a certain wedding that took place in Königbserg and ended in a tragedy for one of the attendants.

These references pointing out how the people should behave at ceremonies, balls and at weddings during the wedding dances, seem to be quite interesting. Much information is availeable on the topic of excesses at weddings and hence the usual adjustement of dance.

Sumptuary laws (Hohzeit – Ordnung) regarded regulatory and customary laws in the cities founded under German law including Gdansk (Danzig), Elblag (Elbing) or Toruń (Thorn). So we can find out where the dances can be organized, who could dance, how long they can continue dancing at weddings, what kind of dances they can perform. Which dances were approved by officials and which were not. We can find out how many and what kind of musicians can be invited to Gdansk weddings. For example, in 1630 the peasant dances, which were characterized by violence, high jumps, twists, and the compression on the races (Hohzeit – Ordnung, 1630).There was also a record defining when you could not dance at all (1707).

Finally, we can also conclude as to how orders were executed. Useful here are the official letters and fragmentary records of participants in those weddings (Charles Ogier, Peter Dunbar). My lecture will be illustrated with the iconograpry of Gdansk masters, travellers’ drawings such as Peter Mundy’s and drawings found in album amicorum.

Click here to read the paper.