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Clown dance

September 1, 2008

In case you still weren’t convinced that American Indians are modern people with an excellent sense of humor, let me tell you about the clown dance.

Traditionally, the clown dance was a part of a powwow when dancers dressed up in costume to scare away evil spirits.  Today, it serves as welcome comic relief for both dancers and participants, many of whom struggle every day to make ends meet.

At the 27th Annual Labor Day Powwow in Ashland, MT, the clown dance was nothing less than a side-splitting Halloween party.  The dancers were hilarious, dressed in costumes ranging from grannies to ghouls and performing moves from the traditional jingle dance to the sprinkler, that ever-corny ’80s favorite.  During most of the dances, traditional drum music was played, but during the last two dances, a hip-hop song called “Delicious” and Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” were played over the loudspeakers. 

And the emcee’s instructions to the dancers before they took the floor?  “Keep it clean.  No dirty dancing, no drugs, no alcohol.  The only crack that’s legal to sniff is the one you’re sittin’ on.”


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