t’Smidje (Belgijka) (L*) – Flemish

(L*) Living. Though this dance is not necessarily a traditional Belgian Folk Dance, it’s European-wide popularity, simplicity and similarity to other European folk dances, plus lack of identified choreographer, plus adaptability to many other songs makes it in my opinion Living.

“ ‘t Smidge (the Smithy) is this decade’s (2010’s) Macarena”, says California Folkdance Federation’s Loui Tucker. . It’s exceptionally popular throughout Europe. “

The Song

Flemish female a capella trio Laïs perform their 1998 hit song t’Smidje, accompanied by the folk-rock band Kadril. Many of Laïs’ lyrics are taken from centuries-old Flemish folk songs, to which they compose modern melodies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmkwxnIPgDA
Wie wil horen een historie                              Who wants to hear a history
Al van ene jonge smid                                    of one young blacksmith
Die verbrand had zijn memorie                      And the lessons he learned the hard way
Daaglijks bij het vuur verhit                           Heated daily by the fire.
Was ik nog, nog met mijnen hamer                Chorus: Oh, I wish I’d never left my hammer.
Was ik nog met geweld op mijn aambeld       I would pound upon the iron.
'k Geef den bras van al dat smeden                I stopped that hard forging
Ik ga naar de Franse zwier                             And traveled off to France.
'k Wil mij tot den trouw begeven                   There I decided to get married
Nooit een schoner vrouw gezien                    To the prettiest woman I’d ever seen.
Was ik nog, nog met mijnen hamer                 Chorus:
Was ik nog met geweld op mijn aambeld
't Is de schoonste van de vrouwen                  She really is the prettiest woman.
Maar nooit was er zo'n serpent                       But you’ve never seen such a serpent!
Nooit kan zij haar bakkes houden                  She can never keep her mouth shut,
Nooit is zij eens wel content                          And she’s never, ever pleased.
Was ik nog, nog met mijnen hamer               Chorus:
Was ik nog met geweld op mijn aambeld
Nooit mag ik een pintje drinken                    I can’t even sit and drink a pint.
Nooit mag ik eens vrolijk zijn                       I think I’ll never again be merry.
Nooit kan ik iemand beschinken                   I can’t even sit with a friend,
Met een glaasje bier of wijn                          And share a glass of beer or wine.
Was ik nog, nog met mijnen hamer                Chorus:
Was ik nog met geweld op mijn aambeld
'k Geef den bras van al dat trouwen              I’ve had enough of being married.
Werd ik maar eens weduwnaar                     I wish I was still a bachelor.
'k Zou mij in een hoeksken houden              I just keep out of her way in a corner.
En mij stellen uit gevaar                               And try to stay out of danger
Was ik nog, nog met mijnen hamer               Chorus:
Was ik nog met geweld op mijn aambeld
Was ik nog, nog met mijnen hamer               Chorus:
Was ik nog met geweld op mijn aambeld
Submitted by SaintMark on Wed,

Comment on the lyrics by my Flemish friend

“Apart from being a dance-able dance, this story says a lot about the Flemish. I have always said that the Flemish hate and love and love and hate the French all at the same time.

And to realize now that this Flemish opinion of France and its people goes back centuries is an eye opener, wonderfully so.

And in the song our smidje dreams of finding for himself the most beautiful girl to marry, and where…in France of course! France’s beauty is part of all Flemish dreams! And then he finds her to be a shrew who does not allow him the smallest pleasure like his beer from time to time and inviting his friends. That is the Flemish reality as well, the Flemish can really only be happy in their Flemish village, at home. And the Flemish “ know” that a Frenchman ( or -woman) seductively promises a lot, and then fails to deliver, and that non-delivering does not bother the French a bit, ‘ cause “ I am French” and “ you are not “.

Another interesting thing is that it is sung in “ polished” Flemish, that is: the language is Dutch, pronounced in the Flemish way, but in not too Flemish a way so that it remains totally understandable to Dutchmen.

That simply reflects the evolution of the way Flemish people speak Dutch, over the last 50 years. I am all in favour of this evolution.

About the lyrics:

The title first: ‘t Smidje.

Smid is Dutch/Flemish for (Black)smith. (The letter d at the end of a word is pronounced like a t, so smid is pronounced smit).

The “je” is the diminutive . 

The diminutive can be literal of course  (that would mean that the Smid is really short or very young), but of course more often  the diminutive is used to indicate that we don’t have too great an opinion about the person referred too, or that he/she has not outgrown his/her childhood yet, or that he/she is simply not very bright; and in all three cases we feel superior to the person in question and also feel sorry for him/her. I like to think of Trumpy dumpy for example.

So that’s the kind of blacksmith we are dealing with.

Now in Dutch as in German there are 3 genders, masculine, feminine and neutral. All objects are either m, f or n.
People are normally m or f, except where the diminutive is used, because all diminutives are neutral.

So the grammatical gender of the little blacksmith is neutral.

The word “ the” in front of a neutral noun in Dutch is “ het”, and in normal conversation this is abbreviated to <‘t >

Thus we have “ ‘t Smidje”. 

The title alone tells you something funny or weird or deplorable is following.

The actual translation is not bad but not precise in a few places.

In the 2nd stanza for example, second line, there are the words “Franse zwier” meaning “ French panache”, where the translation simply says “ France”. No, the young man is not just going to France, he is going to the French panache!

There a few more of these imperfect translations, but who am I to criticize? The essence is there.

Et voilà!”

The Dance

The dance itself is almost identical to several other folk dances, like Allemansmarsj (Sweden), La Chapelloise (France), American Promenade (US) and Humppa Mixer (Finland).


Formation: Couples in a circle facing CCW, holding nearer hands, Man on the inside.
1. Starting with inside foot (Man’s R, Lady’s L), Run CCW 123, hop on count 4 and turn towards each
other to face the reverse direction.
2. Going backwards (CCW), repeat # 1 with opposite footwork.
3-4. Repeat # 1-2, but in the opposite direction (CW first, then backing up CCW).
5. Facing CCW again, do a pas-de-bas towards your partner, coming shoulder to shoulder (1&2), then
a pas-de-bas apart (3&4). [Alternately: jump on both feet towards partner (12), and both feet away
6. Partners trade places, with the man stepping to the right, and the lady crossing in front of him by
first facing him and then switching hands (M’s L and Lady’s R) and rolling out. RLR hop.
7. Repeat # 5 with opposite foot work and direction.
8. Progression: Both turning towards the joined hand, but dropping it. The lady progresses diagonally
forward to the outside, and the man shifts to the left-inside. [Alternately: man does a complete turn
in three steps going diagonally backwards – to end one person behind him and on the inside; the lady
does a complete turn moving diagonally forward – to end up one person ahead on the outside.

Source: http://www.sonic.net/~stevayla/pdf_files/t%20Smidge%20dance_lyrics.pdf

At the Kasteel van Nieuwland, Belgium, 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2ZXQoyWZHs
t’Smidje is especially popular in Poland, where it’s known as Belgijka. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2AuIWiUQgk
Austria, 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yil398NujU
Tucson, AZ, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbSAngnKWHQ
Caption: BELGIAN DANCE | CHRISTIAN WEDDING | JULIUS & PILVINA | 05-01-2020. Mangalore, India. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suI9bQ3U2Is

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: