Michanikos, the dance of a paralyzed sponge diver

The music and dance of a sponge diver suffering from the bends.

While sponge diving was done with the Skandalopetra free diving method, there were no diving accidents at all.

Then, the "helmet" diving was introduced. More comfortable, more productive, better paid. But with an enormous number of dead and crippled divers, due to the disrespect to the decompression rules.

"o Michanikos" is an extremely expressional and emotional dance. It reflects the will for life of the "sick" sponge diver (the diver hit by the bends).  

The following description, the download and the photo are from the CD by "Lykeion ton Hellnidon"  CD.

8. O MICHANIKOS (Instumental)

"Michanikos" (mechanic, machine-man), is the name given in Kalymnos to the sponge-diver who wears a diving suit. The "michanikoi" are very daring and very often become semi-paralyzed or paralyzed (from decompression sickness, or what is colloquially called the "bends" - in Kalymnos "piassimo".)

The Michanikos is danced by men only and is a kind of syrtos.

At a certain point in the dance, the leader, who enacts the role of the diver suffering from the bends, stops, leans on the stick he is holding, and walks with small trembling steps, while the others continue to dance in place. Presently the stick slips from his hand and he almost falls.

Then grasping his stick again, he rises and begins to dance again with quiqk, lively steps. It is danced at gatherings, but few can do it properly. In Kalymnos it is not sung.

In the previous video, a dancing group from "Lykeion ton Hellinidon", performs the dance "o Michanikos".

In the following video you can hear a very rare folklore recording from 1932. You can feel the emotions just listening the voice of the singer!

The lyrics in Greek

Ωχ στη μηχανή θα πάω για μηχανικός
που δίνουν τους πολλούς παράδες
θάμαι τακτικός 

αχ πανάθεμα σε Χάλκη
αχ και συ παλιο Μαντρούχα
που΄φαγες τα στήθεια μας
και΄βαλα μαύρα ρούχα

Αχ Μπαρμπαριά και Τούνεζι
Μάλτα και Αλιγιέρι
που κάνατε τις κόρες μας
να πέφτουν δίχως ταίρι

Kalymnos Island