Vintage Swing Dance, June 14, 2015
From the movie: KEEP PUNCHING 1939 The Big Apple contest featuring Whitey's Lindy Hoppers.
This pancocojams post presents information about the "Big Apple".
This post also showcases two historical film clips of the "Big Apple" from the late 1930s (United
The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to the unknown creators of this dance. Thanks also to the film makers, all those who are featured in these film clips, and the publisher of these film clips on YouTube. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.
SHOWCASE FILM CLIP #2: DANCING THE BIG APPLE:1937: African-Americans ignite a National Craze
DancetimePublication, Jul 27, 2010
….This innovative documentary, DANCING THE BIG APPLE 1937: African Americans Inspire a National Craze, explores the Big Apple dance in the context of American history.
Movie: Dancing the Big Apple 1937
INFORMATION ABOUT AND DESCRIPTIONS OF THE "BIG APPLE"
"The Big Apple is a group participation circle dance that uses swing dance for a host of steps. The Big Apple has some roots in the Ring Shout and Square Dance as well. Sometimes a solo or couple would perform in the center of the circle (like today's modern jams) as the rest of the dancers would dance in a circle around them.
Most people think of New York when they hear the name, but the Big Apple actually originated at the "Big Apple Night Club" in the Palmetto state of Columbia, South Carolina around 1936.
The Big Apple spread all over the states and soon the smaller taverns and dance halls were posting apologetic signs: "Sorry, No Big Apple. Not enough room". Some ballrooms who had balconies or dance floors on the second story collapsed due to the weight of the people doing the Big Apple. Many people where hurt in the collapse and some establishments refused to allow people to do the Big Apple due to insurance reasons and fear that someone might get hurt.
This dance is cued by a caller, dancers performed moves from the Lindy Hop, Shag, and Charleston, and popular jazz steps like Trucking and Pecking. Some of the names of steps were called "Spank The Baby, Praise Allah, Rusty Dusty, Charleston, Suzy-Q, Pose & A Peck, Boogie Back, Shorty George, Truckin, The Little Apple., The Little Peach"-- (Little Peach-Invented by Collage Kids in So. Carolina) and more, were all swing type fad dances of the time, these Fad or Novelty dances lasted only a couple years. Over time most of these steps have resurfaced as the same dance or a variation of the dance.
"Swing As Away Of Life" states : (book) 'The Big Apple started when the band leader (or any dancer) cried out, "Cut The Apple!" and dancers formed circles of 8 to 10 people each. At the callers cry of " Come on and swing," the dancers would break into the Charleston swing (Lindy Hop), a more violent version of the previous decades Charleston. Each dancer would step forward on his left foot and kick the right foot up, then step back on the right foot to the rear. Soon the whole circle would be a flurry of flying feet and counter-flying arms and elbows. When the caller yelled "Truck To the Right!", each dancer would face right, raise the admonitory index finger, step forward and pivot .. etc .' ...
The exact origin of the Big Apple is unclear but one author suggests that the dance originated from the "ring shout", a group dance associated with religious observances that was founded before 1860 by African Americans on plantations in South Carolina and Georgia. The ring shout is described as a dance with "counterclockwise circling and high arm gestures" that resembled the Big Apple."[...]
The dance that eventually became known as the Big Apple is speculated to have been created in the early 1930s by African-American youth dancing at the Big Apple Club, which was at the former House of Peace Synagogue on Park Street in Columbia, South Carolina. The synagogue was converted into a black juke joint called the "Big Apple Night Club".
[...] Related dances
The Big Apple has many commonalities with Afro-American vernacular partner dances of the early part of the century through the 1930s and '40s. Dances such as the Cakewalk, Black Bottom, Charleston, and Lindy Hop share both similar elements and a common underlying improvisational spirit.
The moves are frequently used in Lindy Hop. This is also used as a warm up before Lindy Hop classes. Note that the moves are very 8-count centered, like tap dance. That is, they almost all start on count 8.
Susie Q Right: Both feet are placed together facing the center of the circle. Left hand clasps the right (think "synergy"), both heels scoot to the right, then both toes 4 slow, 8 quick. Typically "reverse" is then called and you go back the other way. 8 counts each way.
Susie Q left: this is the 'Susie Q' that most Lindy Hoppers know. Left foot starts over right hand should be 90 degrees (like a forklift), palms down, wrists may pull hands up arms swing left to right. Twist left heel while right foot steps out and to the left, repeat. "reverse" goes the other way. Same timing as Susie Q right (slow, slow, slow, slow, quick, quick, quick, quick, quick, quick, quick, quick).
Apple Jacks: With feet close together take tiny steps in place. When stepping with the right foot, let the right knee cross in front of the left knee, twisting hips to the left. With upper body bend down, with fingers pointed at the floor, twisting shoulders opposite hips. On the next step reverse the direction of knees, hips, shoulders. Each step is one count.
Break a Leg:
Shout: Open arms wide.
Swivels: Swivels while walking.
Spank the Baby: Step out with left foot, bring right foot together, meanwhile raising the left arm in the air and making a spanking motion toward one's own behind with the right hand. Spank the baby is done while walking in a circle (not around the circle).
Tick Tock: Put heels together with weight on the back of one foot and the front of the other, then shift toes together and the heels apart and alternate the weight on the feet and repeat the actions to create a sideways travelling motion while at the same time the forearms move in front of the torso then out to the sides in time with the shifting of the feet.
Truckin: Truckin is a shuffle step variation popularized after the vaudeville era. The right hand is held up (as in a right turn signal) with the index finger extended and wagging. In Harlem Truckin the shoulder is set back. Feet are parallel at all times. With both feet together and facing slight left the right foot scoopes down and brushes the floor, the left foot is then gathered at the right ankle and the right heel twists (this should cause forward movement as the foot scoopes past the other foot). The action is repeated creating a "hearts in the snow" effect from the overlapping steps. At the same time the left hand is placed over the stomach (like a waiter holding a towel) and never really moves. The stomach twistes with the feet therefore, the "stomach rubs the hand". If truckin is being done around a circle the outside hand is always up.
Pose and Peck: Put hands on hips, and do pecking with head.
Scarecrow: First 4 counts are Charleston basic.
Second 4 counts, put upper arms straight out to side, and let forearms dangle loosely, and tilt head to side. Often the feet are slightly apart, with the knees drooping together.
Shorty George: Named for George Snowden. Walk a straight line using very small steps. Keep upper body upright while dramatically bending knees. With each step, let the opposite knee push toward the back of the knee of the leading foot, causing both knees to shift right when stepping with right foot and shift left when stepping with left foot.
Shoulders alternate, pushing down toward the leading foot, so that when the knees are pushed to the right, the right shoulder sinks downward and the left shoulder becomes raised. Each step is one count.
Little Peach: Touch the side of your nose twice, once with your left hand and once with your right.
Boogie Back: Lean forward and bend knees. Clap hands on the even counts and hop backwards on the odd counts.
Boogie Forward: Straighten up and throw hands in the air. Each step starts from forward roll the hip, which then moves to the side and settles back as the step with the other foot begins. Each step is two counts.
Praises: The traditional ending the big apple.
Everyone runs to the center of the circle and shouts "Hallelujah" while throwing hands in the air from a bent over posture. It may also be called just "Hallelujah".
Rusty Dusty: Hold pant legs up and shake the dust out of them.
Charleston: See solo Charleston moves. This move is actually called "Big apple swing".
Fall Off the Log: Kick right leg to the side, then step behind with your right foot, out with your left foot, and in place with your right foot. Repeat this on the left side.
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