The Listless Lipsi from Leipzich

Tančíme lipsi — Dobrý den, lipsi!‘, two dances composed by Willibald Winkler and Dušan Pálka. Published by Státní nakladatelství krásně literatury, hudby a umění (Prague, 1959). Sheet music cover illustrated by Jaroslav Šerých.

The Lipsi wasn’t just another Fifties dance craze. It was a political statement, not by unruly teenagers but by the 66-year-old leader of post-World War II East Germany, Walter Ulbricht. The promotion of the Lipsi as a youthful dance was a cramped attempt from the communist regime to restrict the influence of Western music. Ulbricht abhorred gangs of youths who glorified rock ’n’ roll and wanted to swing wildly.

Lipsi Sonderheft – Alle Tanzen‘, album published by VEB Lied der Zeit (Berlin, s.d.), illustrated by Dietrich (source: albis-international)

In 1959, just two years before he would build the Berlin wall, Ulbricht declared that in order to counter Western excesses “It is not enough to condemn capitalist decadence in words, to battle against pulp literature and bourgeois habits and to criticise ‘hot music’ and the ‘ecstatic songs’ of a Presley. No, we have to offer a better alternative.”

It was orchestra leader and composer René Dubianski who came up with that politically correct alternative by merging a Latin-American cha-cha-cha with a German waltz. The dance teachers Christa and Helmut Seifert created suitable and easy steps so that everyone could follow them. They named the dance by adapting the Latin name for Leipzig: Lipsia.

Ulbricht hoped that the Lipsi would not only put an end to the supposed western decadence but also would become an international success. That’s why the regime strongly promoted the new dance and —anticipating a huge success— even patented it worldwide. Eine tolle Idee!

In an attempt to appeal to the German youngsters the DDR authorities produced an animated promotion of the Lipsi. In it the American Mister Brown, upon his return from the Leipzig Fair, enthusiastically started to teach young people in the US how to dance the Lipsi.

In reality, however the Lipsi did not catch on among the youth. Also in other Soviet-sphere countries like Estonia and Czechoslovakia it did not achieve its purpose. Possibly only the apparatchiks and the Politburo danced the Lipsi with enthusiasm.

A parallel story of an old, male world leader trying to stop the youthful urge for liberty, happened 45 years earlier, when pope Pius X failed to launch the Furlana as a safe but boring alternative to the tango.

Walter Ulbricht (1893 – 1973) and pope Pius X (1835 – 1914) at their desk (source: Wikimedia Commons)

To illustrate the fierceness of the attacks against Western music in general and Elvis Presley in particular, here is a quote from Junge Welt, the official newspaper of the Central Council of the communist youth organisation: “His ‘singing’ resembled his face: stupid, dull and brutal. The boy was completely unmusical (… ) and roared like a shot deer, just not as melodiously.”

You bet…

Lookalikes & Companions

Cach’ ton piano‘ by Maurice Yvain & Albert Willemetz, published by Editions L. Maillochon (Paris, 1920) and illustrated by Charles-Félix Gir. — ‘I Lift Up My Finger And Say “Tweet Tweet”‘ by Leslie Sardony, published by Publications Francis-Day (Paris, 1929), illustrated by Würth.
El “Kiss-Me” (Bésame)‘ by Juan Auli & M. Golobardas — ‘Bibelot‘ by A. Costa, J. Albelda & Soller. Both sheet music published by Ildefonso Alier (Madrid, s.d.) and covers signed (Pere?) POL.
Luna Tango‘ by Georges Hamel, published by Musiciana (Paris, s.d.) and illustration by M. Briard — ‘Minuit‘, serenade composed by H. Stile, published by Dupont, A. – Metzner (Paris, s.d.), cover illustrated by Armand Segaud.
When you’re tired of calling me sweetheart‘ by Earle Johnston & John Ricca, published by Sherwood Music (New York, 1924) — ‘Trying To Forget‘ by Abe Olman and Jack Yellen, published by Ager, Yellen & Bornstein Inc. (New York, 1923). Both covers illustrated by Malcolm Perret.
Schön ist die Jugend‘ by Max Rhode, published by Philipp Grosch (Würzburg), 1919) and illustrated by Breidenstein — ‘Memento Vivere (Mensch, Durf Te Leven )’ by Dirk Witte, published by Alsbach, G. & Co (Amsterdam, 1917), cover design by Leo Gestel.
Oh How I Miss You To-Night‘ by Benny Davis, Mark Fisher & Joe Burke, published by Irving Berlin, Inc. (New York, 1924). Both sheet music covers illustrated by Sydney Leff.
‘Bonsoir Madame la lune‘ by Paul Marinier and Emile Bessières, published by E. Meuriot (Paris, s.d.) and illustrated by Georges Dola — ‘E viva Carneval‘ by Menica Rondelly , published by M. Millan (Nice,  1905) and illustrated by Gaston de Montpéroux.
Reclame!’ by Dino Rulli and Bruno Cherubini, published by Casa Editrice Musicale (Rome, 1928), cover illustration signed ‘Monni‘ — ‘For you! Reklame operette‘ by Bruno Granichstaedten, published by Edition Bristol (Wien, 1930), unknown illustrator.
I Don’t Want To Get Married‘ by Myrtle Boland, James Alexander Brennan and William Jerome, published by Broadway Music Corporation (New York, 1924) — ‘Ida I Do’ by  Isham Jones and Gus Kahn, published by Irving Berlin, Inc (New York, 1925). Both covers designed by Malcolm Perret.
Breeze (Blow My Baby Back To Me)‘ by James F. Hanley, Ballard Macdonald & Joe Goodwin, published by Shapiro, Bernstein & Co (New York, 1919) and illustrated by Natwick — ‘If You’ll Come Back‘ by Otis Spencer and Rubey Cowan, published by Mack Stark & Rubey Cowan (New York, 1920), illustration by Albert Barbelle.
El Dormilón’, tango composed by Manuel Jovès, published by Editions Francis Salabert (Paris, 1926) — ‘Tango Sentimental (Ha de volver a mi) by Manuel Jovès & Jose M. Marcel, published by Editions Francis Salabert (Paris, 1924). Both covers illustrated by Roger De Valerio.

Sympathy For The Devil

Sheet music cover for "Four Conceits" by Eugène Goossens
Four Conceits‘ by Eugène Goossens, published by J. & W. Chester (London, 1918) and illustrated by M. Tempo.

In 1893 the English composer Eugène Goossens was born into a musically gifted family. His parents and his siblings were all renown musicians. His grandfather, from Bruges in Belgium, was a famous conductor and had moved to England in 1873.

The first movement of Eugène Goossens’ Four Conceits is The Gargoyle. Eugène’s younger sister the harpist Sidonie remembers that “When he was 11 years old … he always loved to draw pictures with gargoyles. He had a sort of mania about gargoyles.” He did not draw this nice cover though, it is by M. Tempo, an illustrator we know nothing about.

His brother Leon Goossens was considered among the premier oboists in the world and although not known as a composer he wrote a march dedicated to Brussels boaters.

Sheet Music Cover for 'Marche des Canotiers' by Léon Goosens
Marche des Canotiers‘ by Léon Goossens. Published by Jeanne Moens (Bruxelles, s.d.), unknown illustrator.

After conducting US orchestras for nearly a quarter of a century, Eugène Goossens became the conductor of the Sydney Symphony in 1947. In Australia he established himself as a distinguished celebrity, earning even more than the prime minister. He also initiated the founding of the famous Sydney Opera House.

In his private live he had a lifelong interest in pantheism and the occult. Sadly this would become his downfall when in the early fifties he met the Australian artist Rosaleen Norton who had achieved scandalous notoriety as ‘the Witch of Kings Cross’. Kings Cross was Sydney’s seedy night entertainment and red-light district. There Rosaleen led a bohemian lifestyle together with her younger boyfriend, the poet Gavin Greenlees. Their small flat, in a derelict house, was decorated with occult drawings and a clumsy altar embellished with a painting of Pan and a set of stag’s antlers.

Rosaleen Norton 1943, by Ivan, for PIX Magazine, from photographic negative, State Library of New South Wales. Source: Wikipedia.

In 1952 The Art of Rosaleen Norton was published combining her (erotic) drawings of pagan gods and demons with the poetry of her lover Greenlees. The book was banned in New South Wales on the grounds of obscenity, import in the US was forbidden, and an Australian court ordered that two of the drawings had to be removed from all existing copies. This brought the book extensive media coverage. After reading it Eugène Goossens thought he had found kindred spirits and he wrote to Rosaleen. They met for tea at her sleazy flat and soon began to see each other regularly.

At that time, Eugène Goossens lived in a stylish house in Sidney with his third and much younger wife. She was a concert pianist and often away on tour, leaving Eugène —now nearing sixty— alone at home. Perhaps on the lookout for some excitement in his life, he started to take part in Rosaleen’s occult rituals. For these she was naked apart from a skimpy apron, a shawl and a mask, or she wore a robe. She and her coven members shared a ritual meal of cakes and drunk wine from a horn, which was passed round the circle.

In some private rituals Goossens, Rosaleen and Greenlees went further: they were practitioners of Aleister Crowley’s “sex magick” in the hope of reaching higher states of consciousness by performing sex rituals. Crowley —or ‘Great Beast 666‘ as he called himself— was an English occultist and ceremonial magician, and had the reputation of being the wickedest man on earth.

Sheet music 'Elle avait un p'tit cad'nas'
Elle avait un p’tit cad’nas‘ by Valentin Pannetier & M. Désautés. Published by V. Pannetier (Paris, s.d.), cover illustrated by Leon Pousthomis.

Eugène Goossens and the occult couple corresponded excitedly about their magical erotic experiences. The threesome was into bondage, flagellation, cunnilingus, same-gender sex and taking erotic photographs.

The osculum infame illustrated in Francesco Maria Guazzo’s Compendium maleficarum, 1608. Source: Wikipedia.

In one of his letters Goossens talked about the osculum infame that he administered to Asmodeus, the demon of lust. The osculum infame or the kiss of shame is a ritual kiss given by a witch to a devil’s behind.

Sheet music cover for 'Asmodeus'
Asmodeus‘ by Julius Einödshofer. Published by Carl Gehrmans Musikförlag (Stockholm, s.d.), unknown illustrator.

Being aware that these letters were dangerous Goossens had instructed Rosaleen to destroy them. But she didn’t and hid them under a cushion of her settee. Together with bondage photographs showing Rosaleen and her lovers, the letters were stolen by a member of her coven. He tried to sell them to the tabloids whereupon a reporter of The Sun reported the theft to the police.

The police placed the unsuspecting Goossens under surveillance, even while he was abroad in England. When Goossens returned to Australia in March 1956, he was detained at the airport. Customs officials already knew they would find a large amount of ‘pornographic’ material which included 800 erotic photographs, books and rubber masks. Humiliated and in shock, Goossens instantly and naively pleaded guilty thus jeopardising his legal defence. A major scandal broke loose in puritanical and narrow-minded Australia of the fifties. The story was fodder for the tabloids. In disgrace, Eugène Goossens returned to Britain — his international career was ruined.

Please allow me to introduce myself…

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