Some people are affected by “fancy” clothes — the moment they don a hat they become self conscious and tilt their heads in unnatural ways. Put this type of person’s feet into expensive shoes and he or she begins to mince about, or trip over their own feet. Dress such a man or woman in a sleek new suit or dress and you may create a person who exaggerates every glance, augments all movements or ‘gilds’ each gesture.
During my childhood, if my grandmother caught me prancing grandly about in a brand new outfit, she would shout: “Aren’t you high and mighty? Doing the cakewalk!” When my grandmother’s elderly sisters and their daughters would visit us on Sundays or holidays, they would often dress up; they would emerge from their cars with scarves wrapped about their shoulders or around their throats, shaking out their long skirts and patting their hair. As the women walked across the lawn to our door, their high heels sank into the ground, and the ladies crouched down, swayed, and held on to each other or stretched out their arms to balance themselves. My grandmother, her face expressionless, her arms akimbo, would look at this ‘parade’ from the kitchen window and quietly say: “They’re doing the cakewalk.” She’d then, suddenly, cock her head, arch her eyebrows, fling back and flap her arms, and start laughing.
The cakewalk dance (known originally as the chalk line walk) first appeared on Southern plantations in the mid-1800s; in cakewalk performance-contests, slaves would dress up in finery and put on a show, full of theatrics, for the plantation owner, his family and guests. The cakewalk was a parody of the high-toned European-style dances that took place in the grand plantation houses; not only were dance movements parodied, but the mannerisms and dress of white society were parodied as well. During a cakewalk performance, the dancers’ necks were stretched and their heads held higher, facial expressions were exaggerated, bodies were bent backwards, arms were thrust out then dangled at the sides of the body, legs were bent — then kicked high, gaits were sprightly one minute, slow motion the next. At the end of cakewalk ‘shows’, the plantation owner would reward the most flamboyant and inventive dancing couple or single dancer with candy or a hoecake (a sweetened corn meal cake fried on a griddle).
The cakewalk has many claims to fame: it incorporated distinct movements from west African dances; cakewalk music led to ragtime which in turn had a broad influence on American and European composers; and the cakewalk crossed the ‘color line’ and was embraced, and performed, by whites. I feel the exuberant, joyous cakewalk movements are innate: who hasn’t been inspired by music, a personal victory or some exciting pleasure, to strut about in an exaggerated fashion?
What does the above bit of personal history and a mini-lesson in African-American dance have to do with D.L. & Co.’s Modern Alchemy Cake Walk candle? Not much. There just isn’t a lot to say about the Cake Walk candle itself — except that it’s my favorite food-scented candle of all time. There are ‘antebellum’ elements in Cake Walk’s ingredients list (chicory, cotton leaves) but Cake Walk’s Madagascar vanilla accord is the main attraction. Cake Walk smells like a freshly baked and frosted cake. Cake Walk starts with the fragrance of sweet, creamy, vanilla-scented cake batter; strike a match and light the Cake Walk candle and the ‘batter’ begins to bake (chicory adds a pleasant depth to the sugar-vanilla aromas). Over the years, I’ve smelled many home fragrance products formulated to recreate the scents of cookies, icing and custards, but none of those products holds a candle to Cake Walk.
Modern Alchemy Cake Walk comes in a 7.4 oz glass tumbler, burns for around 40 hours and costs $50-55. Cake Walk has very good throw and burns cleanly. It can be found at beautyintuition, candledelirium or luckyscent; for more information, see dlcompany.
Note: first image via streetswing; this site also has interesting background info on all types of dances.