A little bit of History
In the early years of colonization, minuets were the only entertainment in colonial society. Soon judged too staid, they will be replaced by the minuet-Congo (mixture of minuet and African rhythm) introducing the drum alongside the violin. Then the country dances arrived before the French Revolution of 1789. A favorite dance of Marie-Antoinette's balls, the country dance was all the rage in France, England, Spain and the colonies during the period of slavery. In the 1780s, colonial planters began to hire, no doubt out of nostalgia, dance masters and music masters to learn. To help these professionals from Europe, the settlers allowed some slaves to study European music and become scholarly instrumentalists. The English country dance was introduced to the West Indies following a comparable process. Later, the arrival of the quadrille coincided in the West Indies with the period of the abolition of slavery, which reinforced the notions of elegance and good taste that tended to be associated with it already. The generalization of this artistic practice helped to reduce the distance that the colonists of European origin had wanted to establish between themselves and the blacks of the colonies. This is why the adoption of European dance by black populations must be seen as an act of resistance. Resistance to dehumanization. The country dances and quadrilles danced and performed by people of African descent contribute to questioning notions of race, privilege and human rights in the colonies. The quadrille fashion has not affected all Caribbean countries uniformly. In Haiti, for example, the French quadrille was unable to prevail because of the state of insurgency and war against European occupation during the first half of the 19th century. Rather, it is the French-influenced country dance that is still danced under the arbor in Haiti on the sidelines of voodoo ceremonies during Holy Week or the week before carnival. Later, quadrille balls gave way to couples' dances such as mazurka, waltz and polka. The very popular polka at the beginning of the 20th century will later give birth to the biguine in Martinique and Guadeloupe which is a cross between the bèlè and the polka.