A guy has spent five years traveling all around the world making a
documentary on Native dances. At the end of this time, he has every single
native dance of every indigenous culture in the world on film. He winds up
in Australia, in Alice Springs, so he pops into a pub for a well earned
He gets talking to one of the local Aborigines and tells him about his
project. The Aborigine asks the guy what he thought of the "Butcher Dance."
The guy's a bit confused and says "Butcher Dance? What's that?"
"What? You no see Butcher Dance?"
"No, I've never heard of it."
"Oh mate. You crazy. How you say you film every native dance if you no see
"UmmSUM. I got a corroborree on film just the other week. Is that what you
"No no, not corroborree. Butcher Dance much more important than
"Oh, well how can I see this Butcher Dance then?"
"Mate, Butcher Dance right out bush. Many days travel to go see Butcher
"Look, I've been everywhere from the forests of the Amazon, to deepest
darkest Africa, to the frozen wastes of the Arctic filming these dances.
Nothing will prevent me from recording this one last dance."
"OK, mate. You drive north along highway towards Darwin. After you drive
197 miles, you see dirt track veer off to left. Follow dirt track for 126
miles 'til you see big huge dead gum tree - biggest tree you ever see. Here
you gotta leave car, coz much to rough for driving. You strike out due west
into setting sun. You walk 3 days 'til you hit creek. You follow this
creek to Northwest. After 2 days you find where creek flows out of rocky
mountains. Much too difficult to cross mountains here though. You now head
south for half day 'til you see pass through mountains. Pass very
difficult, very dangerous. Take 2, maybe 3 days to get through rocky pass.
When through, head north-west for 4 days 'til reach big huge rock - 20 ft
high and shaped like man's head. From rock, walk due west for 2 days and
village.Here you see Butcher Dance."
So the guy grabs his camera crew and equipment and heads out. After a
couple of hours he finds the dirt track. The track is in a shocking state
and he's forced to crawl along at a snails pace and so he doesn't reach the
tree until dusk and he's forced to set up camp for the night.
He sets out bright and early the following morning. His spirits are high
and he's excited about the prospect of capturing on film this mysterious
dance which he had never heard mention of before. True to the directions he
has been given, he reaches the creek after three days and follows it for
another two until they reach the rocky mountains.
The merciless sun is starting to take its toll by this time and his spirits
are starting to flag, but wearily he trudges on until he finds the pass
through the hills - nothing will prevent him from completing his life's
dream. The mountains prove to be every bit as treacherous as their guide
said and at times they almost despair of getting their bulky equipment
through. But after three and a half days of back breaking effort they
finally force their way clear and continue their long trek.
When they reach the huge rock, four days later, their water is running low
and their feet are covered with blisters but they steel themselves and head
out on the last leg of their journey. Two days later they virtually stagger
into the village where the natives feed them and and give them fresh water
and they begin to feel like new men. Once he's recovered enough, the guy
goes before the village chief and tells him that he has come to film there
"Oh mate. Very bad you come today. Butcher Dance last night. You too late.
You miss dance."
"Well, when do you hold the next dance?"
"Not 'til next year."
"Well, I've come all this way. Couldn't you just hold an extra dance for
"No, no, no! Butcher Dance very holy. Only hold once a year. If hold more,
gods get very angry and destroy village! You want see Butcher Dance you
come back next year." The guy is devastated, but he has no other option but
to head back to civilization and back home.
The following year, he heads back to Australia and, determined not to miss
out again, sets out a week earlier than last time. He is quite willing to
spend a week in the village before the dance is performed in order to
ensure he is present to witness it.
However, right from the start things go wrong. Heavy rains that year have
turned the dirt track to mud and the car gets bogged every few miles,
finally forcing them to abandon their vehicles and slog through the mud on
foot almost half the distance to the tree. They reach the creek and the
mountains without any further hitch, but halfway through the ascent of the
mountain they are struck by a fierce storm which rages for several days,
during which they are forced to cling forlornly to the mountainside
until it subsides. It would be suicide to attempt to scale the treacherous
paths in the face of such savage elements.
Then, before they have traveled a mile out from the mountains, one of the
crew sprains his ankle badly which slows down the rest of their journey to
the rock and then the village enormously. Eventually, having lost all sense
of how long they have been travelling, they stagger into the village at
about 12:00 noon.
"The Butcher Dance!" gasps the guy. "Please don't tell me I'm too late!"
The chief recognizes him and says "No, white fella. Butcher Dance performed
tonight. You come just in time."
Relieved beyond measure, the crew spend the rest of the afternoon setting
up their equipment - preparing to capture the night's ritual on celluloid
As dusk falls, the natives start to cover there bodies in white paint and
adorn themselves in all manner of bird's feathers and animal skins. Once
darkness has settled fully over the land, the natives form a circle around
a huge roaring fire.
A deathly hush descends over performers and spectators alike as a wizened
old figure with elaborate swirling designs covering his entire body enters
the circle and begins to chant. Some sort of witch doctor or medicine man,
figures the guy and he whispers to the chief "What's he doing?"
"Hush" whispers the chief. "You first white man ever to see most sacred of
our rituals. Must remain silent. Holy man, he asks that the spirits of the
dreamworld watch as we demonstrate our devotion to them through our dance
and, if they like our dancing, will they be so gracious as to watch over us
and protect us for another year."
The chanting of the Holy man reaches a stunning crescendo before he removes
himself from the circle. From somewhere the rhythmic pounding of drums
booms out across the land and the natives begin to sway to the stirring
rhythm. The guy is becoming caught up in the fervour of the moment
himself. This is it. He now realizes beyond all doubt that his wait has
not been in vain. He is about to witness the ultimate performance of rhythm
and movement ever conceived by mankind.
The chief strides to his position in the circle and, in a big booming
voice, starts to sing: "You butch yer right arm in. You butch yer right arm
out. You butch yer right arm in and you shake it all about"