Being in the auditorium at the CANference when Lisa first announced that Community Acupuncture had found its new atomic number in the structure called a multi-stakeholder cooperative (gasp!) was undoubtedly a high point last weekend. In fact the anticipation in the weeks and days leading up to the unveiling of POCA, our new cooperative, was so great that by the time the day arrived to board the plane and fly to the west coast, I found that my excitement had become trapped inside my body resulting in the King of Neck Pain.
At the airport I managed to get a 15 minute treatment from the chair massage person. Fifteen bucks for fifteen minutes of kneading and rubbing was well worth it, but the pain was still there. In Detroit, I had a quick and dirty Master Tung treatment, with bilateral Correct Tendons, and some achey hand points. Next day I had another treatment at WCA, but still the excitement in my body could barely be contained, the tightness lingered.
My first morning in Portland I had this though upon waking, that CAN was like the dance the Cancan, and POCA, of course, more like the Polka. Perhaps this is obvious to you. But for me, having just found my “sea legs” on the dance floor this weekend, this metaphor deserved some more fleshing out.
A stroll through Wikipedia reveals this about the Cancan: The cancan first appeared in the working-class ballrooms of Montparnasse in Paris in around 1830. Perhaps a coincidence, the Cancan made it into the lives of Parisian working class people just a few years before the Rochedale Pioneers founded the first cooperative.
Next Wikipedia says: At this time, and throughout most of the 19th century in France, the dance was also known as the chahut. Both words are French, cancanmeaning “tittle-tattle” or “scandal”, hence a scandalous dance, while chahut meant “noise” or “uproar”. The dance did cause something of a scandal, and for a while, there were attempts to repress it. So, the Cancan has some things in common then with this particular bunch of loud-mouthed, rude, and scruffy “dancers”, who have been known to make a noise or two.
So here we have a dance with working class origins, whose main features are high kicks, and a chorus line, where mostly the dancers move individually although next to one another. Their kicks are choreographed to be in time, but each dancer must find the energy within to launch the legs repeatedly. It’s a kind of individual dance done with a group. The group lends support and stability, but each dancer moves independently.
The Polka on the other hand was described as having the “intimacy of thewaltz combined with the vivacity of the Irish jig.” There are open and closed steps in the Polka, but it is a partnered dance. Polka music is played by a variety of instruments, with regional variations based on geography, language, ethnicity, etc. There is Mexican Polka, Czech Polka, Slovenian Polka, etc. Polka is much more diverse, based on the same 4/4 time, and dance steps. Polka-ing requires a lot more coordination: dancers, dance hall, dance band, etc. There are organizations devoted to the continuation of Polka culture like the Wisconsin Polka Boosters and the Polka America Corporation. When you google Cancan + non-profit, the only thing that comes up is– this page.
The Cancan is lively but the Polka is really lively. Cancan is in half-time or 2/4 whereas Polka is in 4/4 and fast. The word Polka comes from the Bohemian word pulka which means half also, but it refers to the little half step or hop that precedes the first step and echoes the 4th step. POCA like Polka, is much more complex, requires multiple parties to coordinate and uses “connective strategies in pursuit of a particular goal”(R.Putnam from Better Together) POCA, like Polka is versitile (note how many different genres of music Weird Al is able to Polkasize), and Kent State’s Multi-stakeholder Coop Manual reminds us that it should “not be so surprisingthat new market development is a strength of the multi-stakeholder approach. Giving up the comfortable confines of yourown perspective is often the key to being able to envision something completely new and different.”
Cancan was fun, it became a much bigger phenomenon than the participatory dance that it started out as. But it is more of an historical artifact now. Polka is very much alive around the world. In a way, Cancan preceded Polka’s widespread proliferation, the way that CAN has preceded POCA’s.
One last thing– the thing that helped my neck pain the most this weekend?
Dancing to y’all doing CANareoke– I ordered up a machine for PCA today! Dance and let your pain be healed!
[I’m including the links to the above hyperlinked since for some reason they are not pointing where they should:
Wisc. Polka Boosters– https://www.wisconsinpolkaboosters.com/wpb18.html
Polka America Corporation https://www.polkaamericacorporation.org/
Multi-stakeholder Coop Manual