Cornish Folk Tradition: Songs Music Dance and Associated Customs
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Cornish Dance: The Gookow
This dance came to light in summer 1982 during an interview with Mrs Alberta Victoria Rouse. She is our only informant for this dance although similar dances are known elsewhere. Mrs Rouse pronounced the name Gookow to rhyme with how ( this is a Cornish dialect term for a fool: Gookow, from Goky – fool: Sandys W,Specimens of Cornish Provincial Dialect Collected by Uncle Jan Trenoodle 1846, Gaukems / Gaukum A simpleton from Goky – fool .) The dance seems like many simple Branles popular in medieval times and still danced today. Mrs Rouse grew up on Treesmill Farm not far from Fowey and an area which historically had good communications with mainland Europe. She provided the authors with her own example of this communication with her vivid memories of Flemish sailors visiting the farm in order to obtain alder wood which they particularly valued for clog making.
Dancers form lines (or circles indoors) hand in hand, One Man dances in and out of the arches and arms are brought down to catch him. If he is caught he joins the line and the one who caught him takes over. If he was caught then he was a Gookow, if he survived he was a good man.
Mrs Rouse provided us with no specific tune explaining that the music varied according to the singer or musician.
 
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