Tuesday, April 7, 2015

"This A Way Valerie" ("Strut Miss Lucy", "Strut Miss Susie") - Singing Games

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides lyrics and five video examples of the African American and Caribbean children's singing game "This A Way Valerie" (also known as "Strut Miss Lucy" and "Strut Miss Susie").

The content of this post is presented for cultural, recreational, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the unknown creators of these singing games. Thanks also to all those who are featured in these videos. And thanks to the publishers of these examples on YouTube and all those who are quoted in this post.

The African American playground singing game "Strut Miss Lucy" was undoubtedly inspired by the 1921 Ragtime song "Strut Miss Lizzie". Click for a pancocojams post on "Strut Miss Lizzie".

Note that these singing games use longways set (Virgina Reel type) formation of two parallel lines facing each other with a space in the middle for someone to strut (or dance) down. These games are very similar to "Zudio" and that singing game formation was widely popularized in the American television show "Soul Train" as the Soul Train line". Click "The Roots Of The Soul Train Line Formation" for a pancocojams post that includes information and a video of "Zudio" (also known as "Here We Go Zoodio" and other similar titles.

References: Trent-Johns p. 14-17; Abrahams p. 130; Hawes-Jones (Zudie-0). I have also heard a tape of this game being played by Negro children in Austin, Texas. The children habitually played this game all the way through: That is, until everyone, whether skilled or inexpert, had had a turn to dance down between the lines. It is also notable that the basic formation never traveled during play; occasionally, the children, while holding hands during the first verse, would side-step slightly back to their original position. This was always done spontaneously, without direction or discussion.

This-a-way, Valerie,

Valerie, Valerie,

This-a-way, Valerie

All day long.

Oh, strut, Miss Lizzie

Lizzie, Lizzie

Strut, Miss Lizzie

All day long.

Oh, here come another one

Just like the other one,

Here come another one

All day long".
A small clip of this children's game is included in the Folkstream video given below as Example #1.

"This Way Valerie
This game works best with a fairly large group. You will need to have the girls get a buddy and then form 2 lines with the buddies facing each other. As soon as you have them in 2 straight lines they can start singing the song:

This way Valerie, That way Valerie,
This way Valerie all the way home.

Girls join hands with their buddy and sing this part while moving arms in a sawing motion - back and forth

Strut Miss Lucy, strut Miss Lucy,
Strut Miss Lucy all the way home.

Head girl in one line passes between the 2 lines making up any movement she wishes and falls in at the foot of the opposite line

Here comes another one just like the other one.
Here comes another one all the way home.

Buddy of the previous girl copies the movements just done by her buddy as she passes between the 2 lines and then joins the foot of the opposite line.

Both lines move up a wee bit and repeat the song over and over and over again until everyone has had a turn. The girls will eventually start getting quite creative in their actions if you play this many times."

"Strut Miss Lucy (This Way Valerie)
(to the tune of "Shortnin' Bread")

Thanks very much to Jean, Barb, and Gail, who all helped me to piece together this song.

The girls line up in two lines facing each other. Each girl grabs hands with their partner and move arms alternately forward and back while singing the verse:

This way Valerie, that way Valerie,
This way Valerie, all the way home.

Take a couple of steps back and the head couple do the next two verses while everyone else sings and claps their hands. The girl on the right side struts down the line doing any action she wants. When she gets to the ends she joins the line on the left:

Strut Miss Lucy, strut Miss Lucy,
Strut Miss Lucy, all the way home.

The girl on the left copies the actions of the first girl during the next verse and when she gets to the end she joins the line on the right.

Here comes another one, just like the other one,
Here comes another one, all the way home".

These videos are given in chronological order based on their publishing date on YouTube with the video with the oldest date given first.

Example #1: Pizza Pizza Daddy-O

folkstreamer, Uploaded on Aug 3, 2006

A 1967 film by Bob Eberlein and Bess Lomax Hawes that looks at continuity and change in girls' playground games at a Los Angeles school
The very brief clip of "This A Way Valerie" is from .21 to .28 in this video.

Example #2: this a way valerie

rosierose62010, Uploaded on Aug 3, 2009

my little cousin dancing
Notice that the little girl is "strutting" (moving with a prideful, rhythmic step). For what it's worth, when I introduced the singing game "Here We Go Zudio" to (mostly) Black girls and boys [ages 5-12 years old] in the game song group that I held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and in nearby Braddock, Pennsylvania the children didn't know what "strut" meant and had some difficulty learning that way of walking. They usually ended up dancing instead of "strutting". That same unfamiliarity with "strutting" appears to be shown in the following videos and in other YouTube videos of "Strut Miss Lucy" singing games being taught to children and adult music students.

Example #3: Strut Miss Lucy

Rebecca Bichel, Uploaded on Oct 24, 2011
Click for a short video which shows the children learning this game.

Example #4: Rob Amchin—University of Louisville—Strut Miss Mary

Robert Amchin, Published on Nov 26, 2012

A traditional singing game in "longway sets." The music education majors enjoyed struttin'
their stuff in this singing game! It was only a shame that we had to end class!

Example #5: Troop 375 Strut Miss Lucy!

Claudette Davidson, Published on Apr 9, 2014

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome


  1. I learned a version of this dance in the 1980's from Canadian children's performers Sharon, Lois & Bram. In their 1980 book "Elephant Jam" they say they learned the dance from a third grader on a playground in Toronto. It seems they were unaware of its African-American roots.
    I recently taught their version, "Valerie", to 45 mostly seniors at an International Folk Dance workshop in Surrey, British Columbia (part of Vancouver). The dance was declared the hit of the 24 (mostly adult European) dances taught. A link to the results:

    I have a question - I associate longways set formations with European dance. Are there pre-colonial West African examples?


    Thanks for sharing your video with me and other pancocojams readers! Here's the video's hyperlink

    It looks like the participants were having fun and that's what it's all about. When I led a children's game song group I encouraged the parents and grandparents to join in. I believe that children need to see their caregivers having fun with them.

    Don, I know too little about African dance history to answer your question. It's one that I've been curious about. Hopefully, someone knowledgeable will share some information with us.