Official Statement on the "Quenelle" and Intolerance at ILHC

The 2014 International Lindy Hop Championships was a fantastic showcase of artistry, energy and the joy of lindy hop. That said, there was one routine performed during the Pro-Am division by William and Irene Mauvais that has caused quite a big stir. As we understand it, a gesture was made by one of the dancers during the dance that is associated with anti-semitism.

The ILHC organizers have posted the following statement to their Facebook page regarding the controversial routine :

As event directors, we feel we have a responsibility to both our staff and attendees to create a safe place for people to dance. After receiving many complaints and concerns surrounding the use of a “Quenelle “gesture in the Mauvais’s Pro-Am routine, ILHC decided to remove the video. Although the participants have stated that the use of the gesture was not meant in an offensive way and was more a political statement, we felt the video can relay another message. We don’t want ILHC to be a place where racism, sexism or intolerance are taken lightly, even if it is the result of a misunderstanding. William and Irene’s 1st placement still stands.

But what is the "Quenelle"? According to Wikipedia:

The quenelle (French pronunciation: [kə.nɛl]) is a gesture created and popularized by French political activist and comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, popularly known by his first name.... Jewish leaders, anti-racism groups and public officials—especially in France—have interpreted it as an inverted Nazi salute (illegal to perform in France) and as an expression of antisemitism.

In French social media, employing the "quenelle" in public places, even in traditional Jewish sites like synagogues and holocaust memorial sites, has become a viral meme. Soccer stars, entertainers, and other popular figures have faced government fines and other sanctions for using the gesture publicly.

For those of us who did see the Mauvais' routine and know what the "quenelle" is, it does seem obvious that the "quenelle" gesture is being shown on more than one occasion during the dance.

For the record, here is the response from Irene Mauvais, one of the dancers in the routine (in French):

comment pouvez vous être aussi méchant à ce point !!! je viens de lire ce mésage, et vous savez très bien que ce geste n est pas du tout quelques chose de racial, comme VOUS !! vous l interprêter, vous pensez bien que j avais autre chose à faire, que de m amuser à faire sa pendant nôtre passage, j avais juste la joie et le bonheur de partager sa avec la personne que j aime le plus au monde, mon fils william mauvais. mais cela n est peut être pas dans vôtre éducation !! voila ! UNE MAMAN qui est bien triste de voire ou peut mener la bétise humaine.

For those that don't read French, basically Irene wrote that the organizers have missed the point of their routine. She had no racial intent, but simply wanted to share the joy and happiness with her son William (the other dancer in the routine).

On a personal note, it's seems so inappropriate to have an intolerant, hateful form of expression like this at such a positive, multicultural, international event such as ILHC. We very much hope that such a thing never happens again.

For more on "la Quenelle," see the Wikipedia entry.


UPDATE 5:30pm: Read below for a response from William Mauvais.

UPDATE Sept 1: A second response from William Mauvais and update on the online discussions.

UPDATE September 10: A video commentary from Patrick Szmidt on the quenelle controversy.



STATEMENT FROM WILLIAM MAUVAIS DATED AUGUST 27, 2014

Hey guys, im sorry if i have hurt anybody with the routine it was not our intention and i think this is really crazy!!!!!

My mom and i worked so hard from far away, i leave in France she lives in Canada and she worked pretty hard by herself to make this routine fun. Anyway all of those things are going so far... We are dancers and not politicians!!!!!!

Anyway i think that this is really sad. Take off a video from youtube especially when its a swing routine with no political thoughts behind except the joy of sharing our passion.

Its just sad that my mom cannot share this video with our family cause that's why we did it, because we are leaving far from each other and all our family wants to see what a son and a mom can do and the complicity that we can have together!!!!

Anyway after 7600 views on our video in 2 days and only good comments on the video, our family is devastated about the situation!!!!

Just to finish with, if people are offended about the video please don't hesitate to contact me and talk about it.

I'm not gonna talk about this again cause i think its a waste of time!!!

Thank you and keep on swingin'