Calinda Dance

Calinda Dance

June 23
The Calinda Dance was a 19th-century Voodoo ritual observed on the eve of St. John's Day in New Orleans. Performed by SanitÉ DÉdÉ, a Voodoo priestess who confined herself to a very small space and imitated the undulations of a snake, the Calinda was so sensual that in the frenzied group dance that followed it, the dancers tore off their clothing and engaged in an orgy.
Although most Voodoo ceremonies were held in secret, the New Orleans authorities allowed slaves to dance in Congo Square on Sunday afternoons where the authorities could keep an eye on them. This marked the end of the orgy climax and resulted in a combination of the original snake dance with an African war dance. But the Calinda remained so threatening to whites that it was banned as obscene in 1843, shortly before Voodoo enjoyed its greatest popularity under the leadership of Marie Laveau. Laveau presided over the gatherings in Congo Square and turned the St. John's Eve celebration into a public show to which whites and even some newspaper reporters were invited.
SOURCES:
FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 264