Saturday, September 8, 2012

Videos Of "The Camel Walk" Dance & Shriners "Riding" Camel Walk Strut

Edited by Azizi Powell

Latest Revision: September 19, 2017

[Revised September 16, 2016, former title "Videos Of The Camel Walk"]

The first part of this pancocojams post presents information about & videos of the R&B and R&B dance called "The Camel Walk" (from the mid 1940s to 2011).

The second part of this pancocojams post focuses on the Camel Walk as performed by the Prince Hall Shriners.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, historical, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

The camel walk is a social dance that has roots in the vaudeville shows of the late 19th century and early 20th century in the United States...

Camel Walk Positions
The posture of the dancer's back is straight while doing a 1920s foxtrot walk (a pedestrian walk with the heel leading forward or extending the leg backward with the toe leading and slightly dragging the other foot to meet). The direction of the steps is usually zigzag or rotary. The camel walk is generally a couple's dance, with the woman sometimes placing her head on her partner's shoulder. This was often viewed as inappropriate for that period of time.

Steps and Versions of the Camel Walk
The two main steps are the fan (a rotary walk) of the leg and the high, slow-lifting walking step forward. The earlier version consisted of couples doing these movements along with interspersing steps from the foxtrot. A later version of the camel walk in the 1950s and 1960s became a freestyle dance that had a variety of names including "the stroll."

"The Camel Walk was a ragtime animal dance, came originally from Vaudeville shows. The Camel Walk was mainly done by college students and "flappers" during the Jazz age in the 1910's and 20's with the public as a social dance. It was basically done with a Straight Up (Posture) but otherwise was walking 1920's fox-trot from start to end while dragging your steps slightly, done to slow music and in a zigzag direction or rotary direction. The Camel Walk drew a lot of displeasure among many mainly because the Girls would rest their heads on the leaders shoulder while dancing which many frowned upon as vulgar dancing. Occasionally the dance was varied with Fox-Trot steps by those who disliked anything quite so extreme.

Another version was done in the 1950's/60's: see clip!

The Camel Walk spin-offs of the 1910's became a popular retro dance to do at the time in the 1950's/60's, however these spin-off's were freestyle rather than couples. With such dances as the Camel Walk, Dance the Camel Walk, The Camel Walk Stroll etc ... It is said the the Horse dance was just another Camel Walk. The Camel Walk became the Stroll in the 1950's.

The two signature step's of the Camel Walk was the ronde or fan (rotary-walk rather than a gait or a transverse walk? of the leg, and the high slow lifting walking step forward. There is also the 'knee pop' or funky "Camel-Walk" variation with the leg hooking behind the other as seen in the above clip by Sammy. The Boogie Walks / Shorty George are also related to the Camel walk."

(These videos are presented in chronological order.)

Video #1: al & leon -- camel walk [1945 style]

Uploaded by 7roach on Aug 31, 2007
Click for information about the Jazz dance duo Al Minns and Leon James.

Video #2: Sammy Davis Jr. does the Camel Walk (1960's aka the Collegiate Walk)

Sonny Watson, Published on Dec 29, 2012

James Brown asks Sammy Davis Jr. on his TV Show if he remembers how to do the "Camel Walk". So Sammy shows him and nicely done as well. This dance step was also known as the "Collegiate Walk."

The Camel Walk spin-offs of the 1910's became a popular retro dance to do at the time In the 1950's/60's, however these spin-off's were freestyle rather than couples. With such dances as the Camel Walk, Dance the Camel Walk, The Camel Walk Stroll etc ... It is said the the Horse dance was just another Camel Walk. The Camel Walk became the Stroll in the 1950's."...

Video #3: james brown dancing. with sammy davis jr

Uploaded by jpapers66 on Dec 12, 2010

james and sammy davis havin fun
The camel walk begins at 1:13

No date is given for this film clip.

WARNING: From 2:28 to 2:55, this next video includes the repeated cursing refrain "Do dat sh*t".

Video #4: The Official Camel Walk Dance Video [2011]

Uploaded by jrkmsu on Jan 1, 2011

Hitting that Camel Walk. Song by my boy Gevonte Davis. Gulfport, Mississippi

The formal name for the Prince Hall Shriners is "Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine". (A.E.A.O.N.M.S.) This Black fraternal organization are called "Prince Hall Shriners" to distinguish them from the earlier organization of Shriners who are White.

The Prince Hall Shriners were founded in 1893.

Prince Hall (1735 – 1807) was an African American noted as a tireless abolitionist, for his leadership in the free black community in Boston, and as the founder of Prince Hall Masonry (in 1775). (

The Prince Hall Shriners' performance of the Camel Walk dance is called "riding". A version of the song "Ride The White Horse" appears to be the at least unofficial anthem of the Prince Hall Masons' riding.
Click and for more information about the Shriners.

"The Daughters of Isis are the female auxiliary to the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles Mystic Shrine, the Prince Hall affiliated Shriners.[1]

Local groups of the Daughters of Isis had been founded in Maryland, Rhode Island and Washington, DC, in the early years of the twentieth century and in 1909 representatives of these locals met with a committee from the Prince Hall Shriners and formally requested the formation of a national organization of female relatives of the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. This was granted at the annual convention of the Shrine held in Detroit, Michigan, on August 24, 1910. At the groups inception it had twelve courts or local groups[2]"...
Also, click this post on my zumalayah blog for these & two more videos of Prince Hall Shriners & their tradition of "riding": Hall:

Video #1: Persian Temple No. 46 - 2010 Potentate Ball - Intro (Camel Walk)

Uploaded by smokeyjoesii on Dec 19, 2010

Persian Temple No.46 -2010 Potentate Ball -- Intro --Robert Apple leading the Nobles!
This video also points out some striking similarities between the Prince Hall Shriners and historically Black Greek lettered fraternities. Since the Prince Hall Shriners were founded in 1893 and Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc, (the first historically Black Greek lettered [university based] organization) was founded in 1906, it would be correct to say that those historically Black Greek lettered fraternities are modeled after the Prince Hall Shriners and not vice versa. Besides their strolling* (strutting) movement performances, another way in which these organizations resemble each other is their use of call & response chanting.

I can't make out what the leader says in the above video, but the response is "46" (the number of this particular Shriners' "chapter").Compare that to Black Greek lettered fraternities'/sororities' signature chants which include call & response chants that are based on the organization's founding date. For instance, members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. have a call & response chant in which the leader of the chanters calls "1 9" and the other chanters respond "0 6" - 1906 being the date that the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity was founded.

*I don't know when the Prince Hall Shriners began "riding" (camel walks). I'd love to know if it's common for Prince Hall Shriners & Daughters of Isis to pledge a BGLO fraternity or sorority, and if so, I wonder if members of Shriners and members of their female auxiliary, the Daughters of Isis most often belong to. (The way, the women in the video who are dressed in white with white hats are members of the Prince Hall Shriners' female auxiliary Daughters of Isis.)

Video #2: Golconda Temple No. 24 Nobles camel walking into the formal dinner dance

Uploaded by bks2295 on Mar 7, 2011

Video #3: Ahmed Temple #37

Uploaded by Princess314 on Oct 10, 2010
The audience calls in this video such as "I see you [person's name]!", "Alright now!", and "Get it now!" remind me of the responses that are heard at Black Greek lettered step shows and stroll competitions.

Also, one or more person dancing in the center of the circle is a traditional form of African American dances & other African Diaspora dances. That same formation in which a person/persons in the center of the circle format is found in Black children's circle games.

Thanks & much respect to all those whose comments and videos are reposted on this page.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome.


  1. I can not believe there are no comments. My Mom taught me this dance from the time I could walk. She just passed away and I am just thrilled to find these Videos. It fills my heart with JOY!

    1. Thanks anonymous!

      I appreciate your comment. My condolences on your moms' passing.

      I'm glad that watching these videos can help you remember her with smiles on your face and in your heart.