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Re: Bottle Dance from Fiddler on the Roof

At 12:57 PM -0400 6/6/02, Steve Weintraub wrote:
>From other dancers who had performed the bottle dance in Fiddler, I 
>learned it is best to use a champagne bottle, which is heavier and 
>not likely to break if dropped, and also that some prop departments 
>put a little wax and lead shot (like for a shotgun) in order to make 
>the bottle even more bottomheavy.

Carrying your own prepared bottle may be a great idea, but I either 
can't get it together to bring one or perhaps there's some attraction 
to living dangerously.  Or, maybe it's just that it's great fun to 
walk up to the bar at a simkhe and ask the bartender if they have an 
empty bottle with a cork that they can put two inches of water into. 
They never know what you need it for until you get out onto the dance 
floor and then they have this smile on their face from having 
contributed to something special.

As a result, I never know in advance just how a bottle is going to 
feel and how freely I'll be able to move.  I rely on my wonderful 
hat, a homburg, to get me by when bottles are difficult to balance.

>For young dancers, some liquours come in substantial looking plastic 
>bottles, which if weighted, are very easy to learn to balance.

For beginners, plastic soda bottles work well.  They are so light 
that a little weight in the bottom and it's almost impossible to tip 
over unless you really try.

>ps Joe is a wonderful bottle dancer and a great Khoisidel partner!

That's very kind of you, Steve.  Next KlezKamp I'll bring my hat.

By the way, I have to tell a little story about my hat.  I got it 
years ago at a hatter's in Springfield, MA who since then closed his 
shop.  After a few years it was getting pretty shabby so I tried to 
find a place to get it cleaned and repaired, but could find no place 
in the area.  So I called the Chabad house in Boston to ask where 
they get their hats cleaned.  They gave me the name of someplace, it 
may have been in New York, but I don't remember now.  So I called 
there and the conversation went something like this:
        "Hello, I have a hat that I'd like to get cleaned and 
blocked.  It's a homburg..."
        "We don't do homburgs.  [click]"

I don't know which Chassidic sect wears homburgs, but the proprietors 
of that establishment evidently don't have good relations with them. 
Anyway, if you're looking for a good source of hats or getting your 
hat fixed, try:
When they replaced my hatband, they stuck in a beautiful little feather.

One more bottle dance story.  I was a guest at a wedding in New 
Jersey last weekend (Peggy and I did a broyges tants for the bride 
and groom) and a young fellow went out onto the dance floor and did a 
bottle dance.  The band obligingly played a tune from Fiddler, but 
half a minute into the dance, the bottle fell to the floor and broke. 
As waiters rushed in to clean up the mess, the band kept on playing, 
so the young man took the shard which had been the neck of the 
bottle-- about a 4 inch piece, placed it on his hat, and continued 
the dance to the end.

At 10:34 AM -0700 6/6/02, Larry Goldfinger wrote:
>I can't speak to the origins of the bottle dance, but when last I 
>played for a Fiddler performance, the dancers had a small strip of 
>Velcro on the bottom of the bottles, which stuck to the 
>corresponding strip glued to the tops of their hats.  You still need 
>to balance carefully, but that seemed to help hold on to the bottle 
>enough to make moving around much easier.

Maybe all right for a carefully choreographed theatrical production, 
(and maybe necessary because you can't afford accidents) but if you 
do it at a simkhe and someone walks over to you and tries to pick up 
the bottle to put it on their own head and your hat comes off along 
with the bottle, you've lost all your credibility.

Zayt gezunt (be healthy),

Yosl (Joe) Kurland
The Wholesale Klezmer Band
Colrain, MA 01340
voice/fax: 413-624-3204

---------------------- jewish-music (at) shamash(dot)org ---------------------+

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