Many songs have the added bonus of the lyrics giving instructions on how to perform the dance. More modern songs like The Hokey Pokey, The Loco-Motion, and The Twist were not the first of their kind. The songs in this series are earlier styles of songs whose lyrics tell the dancers how to do the dance.
For more information on each piece click on the specific image.
Title: The Cootie Tickle: Over Here It’s the Shimmie Dance
Date: Circa 1919
Composer: Abe Olman
Lyrics: You’ve heard of the Shimmie dance, But do you know it started back in France? I learn’d from a Soldier man, How this funny little dance began; At a ragtime jubilee, The soldiers gave one night in gay Paree, A “culludgent” by accident Introduced this novelty: Mose began to “Ball the Jack” Just then up and down his back, He felt a cute little Cootie, wigglin’, wigglin’, in its track, That’s what made him shake and twist, He did something just like this And ev’ryone began to wiggle with ‘im Their shoulders movin’ to the raggy rhythm; It’s the “Cootie Tickle” back in France, Over here it’s the Shimmie Dance.
Title: The Dance They Call the “Georgia Hunch”
Date: Circa 1920
Composer: Clarence Williams
Lyrics: Way down South in a little Southern town they’ve got a dance there They are doing all around and if you want to know how this little dance goes I will teach it to you I vow oh honey. Hold me tight and keep your feet a-swaying from the left to right while the Jazzy strains they’re playing That music grand It’s the best in the land Pay attention I’ll show you now. First you glide your shoulders rocking Now you slide your finger popping do the eagle rock in the same old way Do the Texas Tommy then you yell hey! hey! Now shimmie she wab do it for fun you keep on shak’in till the dance is done Get over Sallie but you stay in a bunch Right there it’s a bear That’s the dance they call the Georgia hunch I say That’s the dance they call the Georgia hunch.
Title: Ballin’ the Jack
Date: Circa 1913
Composer: Chris Smith
Lyrics: Folks in Georgia’s ‘bout to go insane Since that new dance down in Georgia came, I’m the only person who’s to blame I’m the party introduced it there, so! Give me credit to know a thing or two Give me credit for springing something new I will show this little dance to you When I do you’ll say that it’s a bear. First you put your two knees close up tight, Then you sway ‘em to the left, then you sway em to the right, Step around the floor kind of nice and light, Then you twis’ around and twis’ around with all your might, Stretch your lovin’ arms straight out in space Then you do the Eagle Rock with style and grace Swing your foot way ‘round then bring it back, Now that’s what I call “Ballin’ the Jack,”
Audio file taken from the Library of Congress. Click here to view the original site. This audio file is instrumental only and has no lyrics.
Title: Kerry Mills Barn Dance
Date: Circa 1908
Composer: Kerry Mills
Lyrics: Musics humming, tho’ the air it’s coming From the dancers in the barn, Voices mating with ev’ning’s breeze, Shy maids waiting a chance to tease; If there comes a feeling ‘round your heart a-stealing for a little girl, Don’t give up to sighing just keep on a-trying, Take her hand and join the whirl. If the girl you love has kept you thinking, If her heart beat all for you, Put your arm around her, take her swinging Till the merry dance is thro’, When her eyes grow brighter, hold her tighter Till she holds you tighter too, Then you’ll know you’ve won a sweetheart, And you’ll know that she’s won you.
Title: The Crocodile Crawl
Date: Circa 1913
Composer: Raymond B. Egan
Lyrics: Honey, hear that orchestra a-playing, See the couples on the floor a-swaying; Don’t you see them all, dancing down the hall. Oh! that Crocodile Crawl; Seems to me that music is entrancing; Seems to set my very soul a-dancing; Honey, here we go This is the dance we know, Soft, sweet, dreamy and slow. Oh! that’s the Crocodile Crawl, Oh! see them laggin’, draggin’, Down the hall, Balance all, Then squeeze your lovey dove right up to your side; Slide and glide, I can’t explain What makes me go so crazy over that strain. Baby, my all, Do the Crocodile Crawl.