Subsequently, this odd sock dance tradition that punishes single siblings for not already being married has bled some into the states. Today, brides and grooms in the Capital Region and specifically Albany and Saratoga Springs, NY who come from our northern neighbors have been working the custom into their wedding planning. Now, another odd Canadian tradition related to the Ugly Wedding Sock Dance is making its way into our wedding halls. This one is called “The Hog Trough Dance.”
The overall philosophy behind The Trough Dance is still the same as the Sock Dance; to punish an unmarried older sibling at a younger sibling’s wedding reception by making them dance in a ridiculous manner for not being married yet. Hoever in the Hog Trough Dance, the sibling dances barefoot in a pig trough or a wash basin, sometimes full of liquid. The idea is that if you are older and still not married, you need to be thrown into the spotlight and peer pressured into tying the knot soon, to avoid the public ridicule at your next brother or sister’s wedding. Because you are not already married, you are indangering the passing down of the family name, and this is punishable by mud.
From my research, I found Ethnologist Jean-Claude Dupont of New Brunswick , showing the earliest written description of the trough dance. He said that, “a musician would play a tune and the single sister had to dance in the muddy pig trough, which had been brought inside special for the event.”
Dupont went on to explain that if the sibling were a male, things would be even worse in a French-Canadian Hog Trough Dance. When it was a bachelor who was being punished for not marrying before his younger sibling, “the brother would actually be made to eat out of the same trough!”
The tradition also sometimes involved dancing in and around a trough filled with food that would be sampled after the dance. Sometimes, a variation with a basin filled with alcohol, a mixture of beer, and hard liquor that the dancer must also drink after the dance.
I have learned that updated variations to this tradition that has evolved some in recent years. Early on, legitimate dirty old troughs pulled right off the farm complete with mud, steaming fresh pig droppings (or worse) were in fact used for the dance, in the most extreme cruel and unusual forms of this wedding torture tradition.
You can bet that feet covered in pig droppings would have left some really lasting impressions on guests sitting near the dancer’s piggies after the festivities. This is all the reason more to make sure that you are married before your younger sister.
However, in today’s more politically correct version of The Dreaded French-Canadian Trough Dance, we see a more forgiving version. People spend a lot of money on clothing on the big special day, and not many people will want to cooperate in such a dance knowing that they will get ridiculously dirty. Another issue, is many halls do not want confetti getting around, let alone pig $#!t, so you can imagine what their responses may be to this type of custom.
With the loosening of family constraints, we now see relatives pushing victims into the Trough Dance in a clean trough purchased just for the occasion.
Albany Weddings DJ Kenny Casanova is an event disc jockey for "The DJ Service.com" out of Upstate, NY. He has been DJ’ing for over 15 years transitioned out of sports announcing into becoming one of the best Wedding DJs in his area.
Winning awards and "BEST OF" titles from Capital Region Living Magazine and Metroland, DJ Kenny Casanova is well sought-after and is booked solid with a few gigs every weekend. For booking information, call 518-506-3305.
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