“Schuhplattler” – Bavarian folk dance
estimated reading time: 5 Minutes
Be amazed by…
- Origin – first mentioned back in 1050
- Historical – even empress of Russia got impressed…
- “Schuhplattler” as a show act – international guests enthusiastically film the performance
- Regional differences – strict and loud versus on the heel and with rounder, looser strokes
- Guinness Book – where a wide variety of best performances are recorded
At tent festivals, on church days, at folklore events and village festivals: the Schuhplattler can’t be missing and cut a fine figure on every occasion. They jump, platteln, clap, whoop, turn in circles and loudly draw attention to themselves.
The name Schuhplattler can be traced back to the middle of the 19th century, but it was first mentioned in a similar form by a monk of the Tegernsee monastery in 1050 in the knight’s poem “Ruodlieb“. In it a village dance is described whereby the description of jump and hand gesture in the dance points to the early form of the Schuhplattler.
The Schuhplattler is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive Bavarian forms of expression. The word Schuhplattler is derived from the dance style, as the dancer beats with his hands on his shoes (more correctly on the soles of his shoes). Its inventors were the simple population: farmers, hunters and lumberjacks, who created this expressive dance in imitation of the courtship behavior of the capercaillie and thus wanted to woo their “Deandl”.
In earlier centuries the Schuhplatteln was a classic courtship dance: the dancer showed his acrobatic skills with hopping, turning and platteln and thus wanted to win over the dancers. Take, for example, the simple woodworker in his day, whose (working) strength was his pride and joy, and wanting to show off that strength. It was necessary to demonstrate a balanced mixture of musicality, body control, quickness and dancing precision.
When the Empress of Russia came to Wildbad Kreuth for a cure in 1838, she was honored by locals with a dance performance that came very close to the Schuhplattler. During the dance, the lad could move to the country melody at his own discretion, show figure, jump and platteln, while his dirndl continued to turn to the beat and was only caught up by him for the round dance.
On July 15, 1858, a Schuhplattler was performed in the Oberland on the occasion of a trip by King Max II through the Bavarian mountains. In 1861 a “Gemütlichkeitsverein” was founded in Miesbach for the purpose of Schuhplattler, which was renamed Schuhplattler-Gesellschaft in 1866. In general, wherever the Schuhplattler is cultivated or can be seen, Bavarian customs and quaint joie de vivre are immediately associated with it.
In the rural areas of Tyrol and Upper Bavaria, people freely followed musicality, rhythm and their own urge to move. The basic form is the Ländler, which came from Austria to Bavaria at the beginning of the 18th century. After the Viennese congress (1815) the Schuhplattler gains more and more ground. The figures vary from place to place and new ones are added.
Finally, in the Bavarian Oberland, some boys discovered the public appeal of the Schuhplattler. Slowly the meaning of the Schuhplattler turned from a publicity dance to a show dance.
“Schuhplattler” as a show act at events
This popular Bavarian form of expression is characterized in particular by the slapping of thighs and shoes to the Landler melody. There are regional differences in this traditional dance from Lower Bavaria to East Tyrol, as well as different dances such as Schlogplattler, Marschplattler, Holzhacker or Bankerltanz. Schuhplatteln is a show dance here, which international guests enthusiastically film as a show act at events such as a trade fair.
There are about 150 different Schuhplattler dances, and in the area between Königsee in the east and Lake Constance in the west, between the Danube in the north and the Tyrolean border in the south, where Schuhplattler is native to the region, differences in the landscape can still be observed.
Thus, in southeastern Upper Bavaria, for example from Rosenheim to Bad Reichenhall, the exact, strict Schuhplatteln with loud beat and upright posture is more common. In the Oberland and the rest of southern Bavaria, on the other hand, more the comfortable Schuhplatteln on the heel and with rounder, looser strokes at home.
For quite a few peoples, the customary dance combines the described attributes in an almost ideal way. For example, “Samba” and “Pasa Doble” are commonly associated with South American enthusiasm, “Sirtaki” with Greek hospitality, and “Czardasz” with Hungarian temperament.
World record for Guinness Book
The world record in Schuhplatteln is back in Bavaria. More precisely to Antdorf, a community in the district of Weilheim-Schongau south of the Osterseen. 1312 Trachtler platttelten themselves on Father’s Day 2019 in the Guinness Book of Records and stole the existing record of 1296 Plattler of the Austrians back to Bavaria.
Wow – this is how adventure without borders works.
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