When was the last time you danced the Valeta?
My Parents danced it in the Social Clubs around the North East, my Grandparents danced it at Friday and Saturday Night Dances without fail, always before the interval came when they had the chance to practice more modern dances like the Twist and the Jive.
I heard the tune this weekend at an accordion club (another example of Unfashionable Folk) and it sounded familiar, so I’m assuming its lodged somewhere in my childhood. Even so, it’s a dance that is fast heading to oblivion.
The trouble is, it’s too working class. This is why folk music is forgotten. Working class culture is ignored at best, sneered at at worst, and thus it gradually falls out of fashion. In a hundred years or so the middle classes rediscover some of what has been lost and they resurrect it, but only for the few. Folk Music is, after all, working class music refined for the middle classes.
If you disagree with this, then put your money where your mouth is. This summer, rather than heading to Cropredy or whatever, head to your local Working Man’s Club or Pensioners’ Tea Dance and listen to a dying folk tradition. Record the tunes, learn the dance steps and do your bit to preserve a piece of history. Of course, the dances will look hopelessly old fashioned, and the music will sound funny compared to the stuff Show of Hands and the rest will be performing, but that, of course, is the point I’m trying to make.
Still not convinced? Well, as soon as you’ve finished reading this, try doing a Google Search for the Valeta. You won’t find much, and yet ask anyone over a certain age and they will be convinced everyone knows it.
This is how traditions die.