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The circus comes to town.

This "literary" review of a circus performance appeared in the Calgary Albertan, September 11, 1901.

The circus has come and gone, and varied are the impressions which have been left in the minds of those who attended the performances. With some, the varied acts may have tended to broaden their knowledge and ideas as to the wonderful possibilities of contortion and application of strength of the human body, while to others the depraved trait in their natures many have been appealed to with the greater force. There was certainly ample scope for the exercise of either inclination.

The side show--the outside on the side feature of every circus--was the first place visited, and consisted of less than the usual number of attractions, except to those (of the male persuasion) who loosened up an extra quarter to visit a little side tent to see the final gyrations of the hoo-chie-koo-chie dance, which consists of a number of unseemly and suggestive contortions by the loose-jointed female, with little more than her modesty to cover her, and a scant supply at that. Perhaps they got their money's worth, but it certainly was not an elevating exhibition.

On entering the big show, the first to be seen was the menagerie, which was certainly excellent, although not very extensive. All the animals were good of their kind and were sleek, contented and well fed.

The performance in the big tent opened shortly after 8 o'clock with the usual horse exhibition in the rings and a long harangue by a couple of clowns on the merits of some of our city merchants to supply anything you need, from a majestic range to a tooth pick or a bottle of Calgary beer. While this infliction was going on the audience sat patiently shivering in the cold and wondering if this was what they had paid a good, elegant dollar for. It is an outrage on good nature for an audience who are out for amusement to have such a miserable lot of rat trap forced upon them, especially on a cold night. The people know where to obtain these articles when required, and if they do not, the proper way to become informed is by reading the newspapers or other advertising, which they can do at home at a less cost than a dollar a night.

After this the programme proceeded intermittently, the whole show being stopped at times to permit of the clowns working off some stale joke, with whiskers on so long that they were mouldy and grizzled. Barring these interruptions, many of the acts were praiseworthy. The bareback riding was good, but the wild Texas steer failed to materialize, like many of the other advertised features. The aerial, contortion, balancing and tumbling artists were fully up to the mark, and received frequent applause. The races, also, at the conclusion, were well run.

But the hottest feature, and also the coldest, was the frequent appearance of a company of young ladies attired in little more than the proverbial pink sash and ostrich feather. They went through a number of fancy dance and marching movements to the excellent music furnished by the band. The main object, however, was to show the figure of Venus, which some of the performers possessed, in a costume which was decidedly decollate at both ends. This was so to such an extent that on the stage one of the clowns remarked that they had better go home and put their clothes on as it was too cold a night to be going around naked.

Many of the audience appreciated these acts in a proper spirit, but there were others who would go home and sit up all night for fear of getting the nightmare, wherein overgrown fairies would dance over their prostrate forms and tickle them under the chin.

Then there was the concert and it was certainly the fakiest fake of all circus concerts. As usual all sorts of things were promised and quite a few of the audience played sucker to the extent of two-bits. The second item on the programme, a pathetic song by one of the young ladies, was very good, and her magnificent voice could be heard in all parts of the big tent. For the rest it was particularly bum.

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Publication:Alberta History
Geographic Code:1CALB
Date:Jun 22, 2009
Words:717
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