Saturday, April 8, 2017
WHAT SCARED ME: KNOTT'S BERRY FARM 'VOODOO' DANCE
I was into Cowboys and Indians in a big way at that time, and walking through the Ghost Town was like walking on the set of a TV show -- or, better yet -- stepping into the past of the Wild West. I would don my cowboy hat and six-guns and wonder at the many sights and sounds that abounded.
One of the most curious items that will forever remain in my memory was a coin-operated machine that I never failed to play at least once during our visits called "Voodoo Dance". Once you dropped your coin in the slot, the scene jumped into action with a sorcerer bringing back to life a skeleton while a native band (presumably Haitian) played the accompanying music. This was one weird scene and it both attracted and repelled me. In fact, it kinda gave me the creeps. Nevertheless, I stood there in rapt attention, watching the bizarre scene unfold to a crazy musical accompaniment.
I haven't been back to Knott's Berry Farm for years and the Ghost Town has been given mostly away to more modern entertainment. I had heard that the Voodoo Dance machine had disappeared. Until, that is, when I spied this auction lot being offered by Dallas' Heritage Auctions.
The description leads to disappointment as it is in pretty bad shape and in non-working condition. Hopefully, a skilled tinkerer will pick this up and make it whole again. In the meantime, the photos of this bizarre little box of entertainment rekindle my shivery memories of a time gone by.
"Voodoo Dance" Coin-Op Arcade Machine (c. 1930s). This antique "Voodoo Dance" musical machine was one of the most well-known coin-operated machines displayed in Ghost Town. (It can be seen in use on YouTube.) Inside the glass-topped cabinet there is a Merlin-like mystical character, a skeleton in a casket, two African-Americans playing banjo and drum, and a third dancing. The game has great "voodoo" graphics, and a very strange black and white photo of an ox in a bamboo field serves as a backdrop. This is one of the most talked-about lots in this auction. Measurements are 40" x 21" x 22". Sold "as is" with no implied warranty as to condition. The machine is in non-working condition, with no keys included. It's a stand-alone piece of beautiful folk art. Fair to Good condition.