April 17th, 2010

In the 1920s, Ragtime music evolved into Swing and new dances such as the Charleston, the Black Bottom and the Shimmy became widely popular.
The Charleston was said to have originated in the Cape Verde Islands. It evolved into a vigorous round dance done by black dock workers in the Port of Charleston. It was first performed on stage in New York in 1922 in a black revue by George White. It became popular in white society after it was included in the stage show ‘Running Wild’ in 1923 by the Ziegfeld Follies. It was danced with swinging arms and side kicks to music at a fast beat. It became worldwide craze, but the ‘wild’ character of the dance made many ballrooms either ban it, or to put up notices with ‘PCQ’ – “Please Charleston Quietly”!
The Black Bottom probably originated in the suburb of Detroit with the same name, although it may have come from New York or New Orleans. The dance became popular after its inclusion in George White’s stage show “Scandals of 1926”. It involved swaying the torso, bending the knees and short kicks.
The Shimmy is thought to have come from a Nigerian dance, the Shika, which was taken to America by slaves. It became very popular in the USA between 1910 and 1920, and became a national craze after Gilda Gray introduced it in the ‘Zeigfeld Follies’ in 1922.
These three dances were absorbed into a faster version of the Foxtrot after a visit to the UK by Paul Whiteman’s band in 1923, and became known as the Quickstep. The modern version of the Quickstep retains the walks, runs, chasses and turns of the original Foxtrot, with some other fast figures such as locks, hops, and skips added. It’s fast, fun and energetic!

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