Tuesday, August 23, 2016

YouTube Sound Files & Video Examples Of "Ballin The Jack" (Instrumental Recordings, Songs, & Dances)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a two part series on the American dance "ballin the jack".

Part II showcases four sound files & videos of Jazz compositions entitled "Ballin The Jack". Part II also showcases a 1914 film clip of Black Americans dancing in a nightclub. That film clip is dubbed with a "Ballin' The Jack" Jazz composition. Part II also showcases two movie clips that feature a "Ballin The Jack" song and dance performance.

Click for Part I of this series. Part I provides information about the railroad term "ballin' the jack" and the African American originated dance with that name. Part I also provides examples of some early 20th century songs that include the phrase "ballin the jack".

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the composers and performers who are featured in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these YouTube examples.

These examples are divided into "sound files" and "video" categories. The examples in those categories are presented in chronological order based on their posting date on YouTube with the oldest dated example given first.
This compilation isn't meant to represent all of the examples of "Ballin' The Jack" on YouTube. constitute Unfortunately, there are no visual or text (word only) descriptions of the "ballin' the Jack" dance as it was performed before it was choreographed for 20th century American movies.

Example #1: Pearl Bailey - Ballin' the jack

simonsaid66 Published on Jun 21, 2012

From "Abroad"...

Example #2: Fats Domino - Ballin' the Jack

max26111000, Published on Aug 7, 2012

Example #3: Johnny Dodds and his Chicago Footwarmers - Balling The Jack (1927)

edmundusrex, Published on Oct 4, 2013

Johnny Dodds (April 12, 1892 - August 8, 1940) was an American New Orleans based jazz clarinetist and alto saxophonist, best known for his recordings under his own name and with bands such as those of Joe "King" Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Lovie Austin and Louis Armstrong. Dodds was also the older brother of drummer Warren "Baby" Dodds. The pair worked together in the New Orleans Bootblacks in 1926...

Example #4: Victor Military Band "Ballin' the Jack" famous song Victor 35405 September 25, 1914

Tim Gracyk Published on Jun 13, 2014

Victor Military Band plays "Ballin' the Jack" on Victor 35405, recorded on September 25, 1914.

First you put your two knees close up tight,
Then you sway 'em to the left, then you sway 'em to the right,
Step around the floor kind of nice and light,
Then you twis' around and twis' around with all your might,
Stretch your lovin' arms straight out in space
Then do the Eagle Rock with style and grace
Swing your foot way 'round then bring it back,
Now that's what I call "Ballin' the Jack."

Lyrics are by Jim Burris. Music is by Chris Smith.

From 1911 to 1919, the Victor Military Band releases helped the Victor Talking Machine Company satisfy high demand for dance records. This Victor "house" band--not a true military band--consisted of about a dozen musicians who also recorded as members of the Victor Band and Victor Concert Orchestra. The band was especially popular during the years the turkey trot, the tango, and the fox trot were introduced to Americans. Many labels state "For dancing." Victor 17550, featuring "Thanks for the Lobster--Trot or One-Step," even adds, "60 bars per minute."...

Example #1: judy Garland & Gene Kelly - Ballin' the Jack

Ohujapaksu Published on Jun 26, 2013

This song & dance number is a great period piece from the golden age of Vaudeville just before World War I. The footage comes from For Me and My Gal (MGM, 1942), the first film Judy and Gene made together. The song was originally written in 1913 by Jim Burris (words) and Chris Smith (music).
Click for another video of Gene Kelly demonstrating how he dances “Ballin the Jack”.

Also, recall this comment that I quoted in Part I of this series from Mudcat folk music forum blogger Jim Dixon:
...."the [J Burris, C Smith] song BALLIN' THE JACK was published in October, 1913, only a couple of months before this article [that criticized immoral behavior in "Colored shows in picture houses"] was published. The writer doesn't explain the expression "balling the jack"—he assumes his readers already know what it means, and that they understand why he considers it obscene.

[Furthermore, it is hard to believe that anyone would consider the song obscene, or the movements described in the song. Am I justified in concluding that the original meaning of "balling the jack" must have been something quite different from what is described in the song?—and that the song somewhat sanitized the concept of "balling the jack"?-JD]"

Example #2: American dancers in 1914, jazz dance in a black club with Kid Ory's 'Ballin' the Jack'

drummercouk, Published on Nov 16, 2014

Fascinating dance film footage of swing dancers in a black club in the US in 1914. I found a silent version and overdubbed it with "Ballin 'the Jack" by Kid Ory, a jazz hit from 1913 which seems to work with the routine!

Jazz routines like the 'Big Apple' are still danced in circles in swing clubs today. Everyone is clearly having a great time. Love the men fanning their coat tails to the ladies!

Check out the snare played side drum style in this rare footage. Ory's band in New Orleans in the 1910s was hiring many of the great jazz musicians of the city including "King" Oliver and Louis Armstrong.
Click for a pancocojams post about the silent version of this 1914 film clip.

Another music dubbed version of this film clip can be found at The summary for that film clip indicates that the music dubbed for that version is "St. Louis Blues 1914 (with that notable "habanera" bridge)"
Pancocojams Editor: The "Ballin' The Jack" dance may not be performed in this film clip, but this dubbed clip is still a cultural treasure.

Example #3: Dean Martin & Polly Bergen - Ballin' the Jack

dino4ever Published on Feb 15, 2015

As performed in "That's My Boy." (1951)

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