Tomorrow is the centenary of the first Dada performance at the Café Voltaire on Feb 5, 1915:

Suddenly, nonsense noises, whistling and shrieks were heard behind the curtain and the lights went out. A green spotlight revealed four masked figures on stilts, each hissing a different sound: sssss, prrrr, muuuuh, ayayayayay. The figures alternated their sounds and began a crazy dance. While the grotesques flailed and stomped, one of them tore open his coat to reveal a cuckoo clock on his chest. The audience stomped and shouted, and soon got into the act, rhythmically joining in by making the sounds, too. At a frenzied point when the shouting reached its most feverish pitch, Tzara reappeared on stage, dressed in tails and white spats, shooed away the dancers, and started to recite nonsense in French. The performance ended with Tzara unrolling a roll of toilet paper with the word “merde” written on it. (29-30)

Andrei Codrescu: The Posthuman Dada Guide (Princeton University Press 2009).


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