Saturday, April 11, 2015

African American Examples Of Walk Arounds - Cakewalks And Other Non-Religious Examples

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part III of a three part pancocojams series on African American examples of historical and contemporary walk around (circle) movements.

Part III features eight examples of non-religious walk around movements including the cakewalk, Chicago stepping (dance), Detroit stepping (ballrooming) dance, and historically Black Greek letter fraternity and sorority strolling.

This examples included in this post aren't meant to represent all examples of African American non-religious walk around movements.

The essay that is showcased in Part I of this series provides some background to these walk around examples.

Part I showcases Andrew Antonio Allen's essay about African American walk around dances and other movements including the Chicago style walk. This essay was written for the "Personal Recollections: The History Of Stepping Project. ("Chicago Stepping" is also known as "Chicago Bop" dance styles.) Click for that post.

Part II features examples of religious walkaround movements - videos of religious ring shouts and other religious expressions. Click for that post.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, historical, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic reasons.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post, and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

These examples are presented in chronological order based on their posting dates on YouTube, with the exception of the cake walk examples which are presented first.

Example #1: Cakewalk - Vintage Blues Dance

SwingcatVB, Uploaded on Dec 31, 2011

The Cakewalk dance was developed from a "Prize Walk" done in the days of slavery, generally at get-togethers on plantations in the Southern United States. Alternative names for the original form of the dance were "chalkline-walk", and the "walk-around". At the conclusion of a performance of the original form of the dance in an exhibit at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, an enormous cake was awarded to the winning couple. Thereafter it was performed in minstrel shows, exclusively by men until the 1890s. The inclusion of women in the cast "made possible all sorts of improvisations in the Walk, and the original was soon changed into a grotesque dance" which became very popular across the country.

Example #2: The Cakewalk 1943

Vintage Swing Dance, Published on Sep 5, 2015

From the movie: STORMY WEATHER 1943
Very theatrical but very well done. Lena Horne and Bill Robinson join in near the end.
The summary below is from another video of this same movie clip which is no longer available:
"The Cakewalk may not be a form of Swing Dance but it is one of the first African American dances to become popular with white audiences. Its origins go back to slavery days but it first became popular as theatrical dance in the Minstrel shows and Vaudeville of the 19th century. This more modern example features Lena Horne, Bill Robinson and an excellent chorus."

Example #3: Steppin & Ballrooming N Detroit / Kitrel Williams

NVS Music Group, Uploaded on Jan 19, 2009

Steppin!! & Ballrooming!!
These couples dance styles originated in Chicago (hence the name "Chicago Stepping" and "Chicago Bop"*). Couples move in a circle around the dance floor to (usually Soul music) records. Read information about these dances in the comments under Example #5 and Example #6.

*The contemporary dances known as the Bop (Dlow Shuffle) are completely different from the Bop styles that are featured in this post.

Example #4: AKA Stroll

JeMarcTV, Uploaded on Apr 19, 2009

Albany State Universitys 43 P.E.A.R.L.S of the Gamma Sigma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha strolling to their old school song after their probate.
"Strolling" (also known as "stroll offs" and "party walks") are non-competitive and competitive group struts and dancing performances to recorded music. Strolling shares the same history and early sources as historically Black Greek letter[ed] fraternity and sorority stepping and is now performed by Latino Greek lettered organizations, multi-cultural Greek lettered organizations, and others. Like sorority and fraternity "stepping", "strolling" has undergone and is still undergoing considerable performance changes. Click for another definition of "strolling" and comments about the history of strolling (stroll offs, party walks). Also click the "stroll off" tab below for more pancocojams posts that about strolling and more pancocojams post that feature examples of historic ally Black Greek lettered organization stroll offs.
"Old School" is a usually positive phrase that means something from the past. The AKA probates [new members] and their sorors [sisters] are strolling to the 1984 record "Set It Off" by Strafe.

Example #5: Steppers: Winning Performances Cadillac Presents 21st Annual Steppers Contest

The Six Brown Chicks Uploaded on Sep 18, 2011

Cadillac presented the 21st Annual World's Largest Steppers Contest recently in Tinley Park, Illinois. This year's winners were judged in several categories, including routines and creativity. Special thanks to Yanni Brown, and organizers Pete Frazier, Terrance Pratt and Andre Blackwell.
"Steppers" here refers to the dance styles that are known as "Chicago Stepping". Those dancers were previously known as "jitterbug" and "Chicago Bop". Notice that there are also similar dances from other midwest cities in the United States (such as "Detroit Stepping".) Here's some information about the dances that are referred to as "Stepping":
"The BOP was the most popular dance in Chicago; often sharing the popularity spotlight with individual dances like the Twist, The Monkey, The Mash Potatoes, The Twine Time, etc.. It also had The Walk, a slowed down version of The Bop. The intimate side of things, truly one of the most graceful aspects of Steppin one could ever witness and many around Chicago say actually existed before the Bop. The fact of the matter is, the Walk remain a major part of Chicago Steppin and continue to exist as the intimate aspect of the dance." - Reproduced pn that website with permission DanLanProductions ©From an article by: Mr. Daniel Land all rights reserved

Example #6: Walkers Competition at the 2010 Chicago's Largest Steppers Contest

StepperDJ Uploaded on Apr 13, 2011

This is video I shot from the 2010 Chicago's Largest Steppers Contest held at the Burbank Manor. Steppers put on their best walking shoes for the classic walkers competition. This is the walkers category. The audience judged the contest and some people got paid for their efforts. Visit SteppersUSA.Com for steppers events listings, Classes & workshops and more.
Selected comments from this video's discussion thread:
jason brown, 2012
"What is walking?"

dru barrett, 2013
"Jason sorry no one has answered your question this long... Walking is a slow dance . You can skip, 2 step and others I can't recall. Usually dance close togather. Really e z. The music is slower. There is also a slow bop you can off time to. Hope that answers yo question. Look up walkers on u tube."

Example #7: 2012 Stroll Contest - Sigma - Old School Alpha Epsilon - Part 1

BLUEandWHITEwknd, Published on Aug 22, 2012

(not so) Old school Alpha Epsilon Chapter frat (JCSU) at the 2012 Blue & White Weekend Charlotte stroll competition.
sigmas = Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. JCSU = Johnson C. Smith University, a historically Black University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"Blue & White Weekend" = an event honoring members of Phi Beta Sigma and members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. both of whose colors are blue & white.
Click for Part II of this video.

Example #8: Delta Sigma Theta Strolling 2014

TwinZ Young Published on Mar 7, 2014

The Delta Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc at Bethune-Cookman Cookman University strolling in the dining hall from bringing in the new Spring 2k14 line. Sorry for commentary behind me lol Congrats to the 59 tho! Enjoy!

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