Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Jazz Dance Truckin (Information & Video Examples)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents information about and film clips of the Jazz dance step known as "truckin".

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

"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."
“Truckin is considered a Harlem dance originating around 1927...It signifies the Strutting Walk done when one is happy or joyful...It’s mainly used in Lindy Hop today after separating from your partner to return later back together again. Truckin can be done as a couple or as a solo...

Truckin is the shoulders which fall and rise as the dancers move toward each other while the fore finger points up and wiggles back and forth like a windshield wiper.”
"The Big Apple: Truckin
Entry from February 19, 2006
“Truckin‘“ or “Truck on Down” (1935)
The dance "Truckin" or "Truck on Down" was popularized in Harlem in 1935. Various Harlem spots and entertainers took credit for popularizing it."...
"According to The Golden Road,
"'Truckin'' was a popular dance step, and the word is immortalized in a number of '20s and '30s songs, including the blues "Keep on Truckin'" and Blind Boy Fuller's "Truckin' My Blues Away.""--Winter 1984."...

[From that same site but credited to the Oxford English Dictionary]
"trucking 2. The action of dancing the truck. slang. 1944 C. CALLOWAY Hepster's Dictionary in Of Minnie the Moocher (1976)
260 Trucking, a dance introduced at the Cotton Club in 1933."

The OED also recognizes the phrase "Keep on trucking":
"to persevere: a phrase of encouragement. 1972. Sat. Rev. (U.S.) 28 Oct. 12 One poster...shows the famous R. Crumb cartoon characters and bears the caption: 'Let's Keep on Truckin'."

The New Grove Dictionary of American Music describes "Truckin'" as a dance step which was incorporated into the "lively and strenuous circle dance", the Big Apple. It describes the "truckin'" step, "with its shuffle step and waving index finger."....
"...TRUCKIN'' was easy to do in the 1940s because the dancers were already familiar with the movement. It was the same movement as the "subtle bounce" in the Jitterbug & Balboa. Truckin' was part of the "Big Apple" in the 1940's..."
Example #1: Whitey's Lindy Hoppers Radio City Revels 1938

Olivier Cotton, Uploaded on Jun 3, 2010
An example of "Truckin" occurs in this film clip at .04-.05
(a woman in the back dances across scene)

Example #2: Whitey's Lindy Hoppers performing the Big Apple (1939)

Tanoa Stewart, Uploaded on Jan 25, 2007

Whitey's Lindy Hoppers performing the Big Apple followed by some crazy Lindy Hoppin'. From the movie Keep Punching, 1939 - Brought to you by the San Francisco Jitterbugs,
I believe that one example of "Truckin" is found at .48-59.

Example #3: A Day at the Races [The swing]

mind stripper, Uploaded on Sep 1, 2007
The whole beautiful, inspiring dancing scene of Whitey's Lindy Hoppers.
Black dancers perform "Truckin" -.43-.50

Two Marx brothers perform "Truckin" - 6:56-6:59

Three Marx brothers perform "Truckin" - 7:27
Editorial comment about this film clip:
Notwithstanding the skill & creativity of the Black dancers & singers who performed in this film clip, I believe that this scene is full of stereotypical depictions of Black people, including Black people’s interaction with the White lead character who plays the pipes & is referred to as (the angel) “Gabriel”. I also believe that the scene in at the end of this clip is racist. In that scene (7:08-7:36), the Marx brothers apply black axle grease to their skin so that they can merge in the crowd with the Black dancers, thus avoiding being captured by those persons chasing them. This is an example of "blackface".

Example #4:Truckin - Jumbo70

Mrgreymattr, Uploaded on Oct 12, 2010

Inspired by a popular dance step in the 20's & 30's, Truckin was written and recorded by late 60's rock band Jumbo. Watch legends doing some of the coolest moves on the planet. Visit
I’m not sure if any of these clips are of the “truckin” dance

Example #5: Alphabetical Jazz Steps 2 (Bigger & Longer)

LindyandBlues, Uploaded on Feb 16, 2012
Vocabulary of 84 American vernacular jazz solo movements

A hyyperlinked list of the dances that are ddemonstrated in this video is found at, including Truckin [around 9:40]

A shorter version of this video is found at

Example #6: Truckin' Routine at the Swing Brother Swing Festival, Bologna Italy 2011

Sharon Davis, Uploaded on May 11, 2011

Instructors at the 2011 Swing Brother Swing Festival in Italy perform the Truckin' routine, choreographed by Sharon Davis.

Song: Truckin' by Willie Bryant

Here's a Soul Train television show clip of Eddie Kendricks performing his 1973 R&B song "Keep On Truckin". I don't know if the dances that are being performed are an updated version of "truckin". As a reminder, the African American colloquial saying "Keep on truckin'" is said to encourage people to keep on going, inspite of difficulties. Another way of saying this is "Keep on keepin on".


Raresoulfilms, Uploaded on Jun 6, 2011


Ina Ray Hutton and Her Melodears - "Truckin" & "Doin' The Suzy Q"

Thanks to the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers and the other dancers in these featured dancers for their dance legacy. My thanks also to the musicians & vocalists who are featured in these videos. Thanks also to the producers of these film clips, the the uploaders of these videos and the authors of the information that is quoted in this post.

Also, thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome.

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