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Monday, July 6, 2015

Dancing at the Aquarium

When reading Poseidon's Steed, I came across this little gem.  In the late 1800s, the public aquarium craze was beginning to spread across Europe, especially in Britain, its land of origin.  Seeking to add to its popularity, the Westminster Aquarium sought permission to add dancing to its attractions, a license for which was denied by a magistrate.  Trying to speculate why, one humorist suggested that it was the fearsome thought of dancing sea-life that turned the judges off the idea.

Within the Royal Aquarium
What monsters have they prancing
That the authorities refuse
A license there for dancing?

Are they afraid the octopus
Will write in a fandango?
Or lobsters caper to pousette
To airs from 'Madame Angot'?

Will lively crabs the can-can dance
Or learn to bounce and royster?
Or flounders wobble to the strains
Accomplished whistling oyster?

Are seals as ready for a spin
As Gray says, when (look o'er him)
'My grave Lord Keeper led the brawls,
The seals,' they 'danced before him'

Will uncrimpt skates, as in the rink
Be dreadfully disporting>
And hippocampus-major take
To capering and snorting?

From Funny Folk magazine, 23 October 1875

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