Tuesday, 29 September 2009


The Charleston is a dance named for the city of Charleston, South Carolina. The rhythm was popularized in mainstream dance music in the United States by the 1923 tune called 'The Charleston' by composer/pianist James P. Johnson which originated in the Broadway show 'Runnin' Wild' and became one of the most popular hits of the decade. Runnin' Wild ran from October 1923 through June 1924.
While it developed in African-American communities in the USA, the Charleston became a popular dance craze in the wider international community in the 1920s. Despite its origins, Charleston is most frequently associated with white flappers and speakeasy. Here, these young women would dance alone or together as a way of mocking the "drys," or citizens who supported the Prohibition amendment, as the Charleston was then considered quite immoral and provocative.

While the Charleston as a dance probably came from the "star" or challenge dances that were all part of the dance called Juba, the particular sequence of steps which appeared in Runnin' Wild were probably newly devised for popular appeal. At first, the step started off with a simple twisting of the feet, to rhythm in a lazy sort of way. When the dance hit Harlem, a new version was added. It became a fast kicking step, kicking the feet, both forward and backward and later done with a tap. Further changes were undoubtedly made before the dance was put on stage. In the words of Harold Courlander, while the Charleston had some characteristics of traditional Negro dance, it "was a synthetic creation, a newly-devised conglomerate tailored for wide spread popular appeal. Although the step known as "Jay Bird", and other specific movement sequences like the snare stare are of Afro-American origin, no record of the Charleston being performed on the plantation has been discovered.

Although it achieved popularity when the song 'Charleston', sung by Elizabeth Welch, was added in the production Runnin' Wild, the dance itself was first introduced in Irving C Miller's Liza in the spring of 1923.

The characteristic Charleston beat, which Johnson said he first heard from Charleston dockworkers, incorporates the clave rhythm and was considered by composer and critic Gunther Schuller to be synonymous with the Habanera, and the Spanish Tinge.

Charleston was one of the dances from which Lindy Hop and Jazz Roots developed in the 1930s, though the breakaway is popularly considered an intermediary dance form. A slightly different form of Charleston became popular in the 1930s and 1940s, and is associated with Lindy Hop. In this later Charleston form, the hot jazz timing of the 1920s Charleston was adapted to suit the swing jazz music of the 1930s and 1940s. This style of Charleston has many common names, though the most common are Lindy Charleston, Savoy Charleston, 30s or 40s Charleston and Swing(ing) Charleston. In both 20s Charleston and Swinging Charleston the basic step takes 8 counts and was danced either alone or with a partner. Tap Charleston (1925 to 1926): Leonard Reed was said to have invented Tap Charleston after he learned tap in 1925. Tap Charleston was the Charleston with breaks into open position to do tap steps.

Which One Would You Rather Ride On - Red Or Blue?

Little Johnny

Little Johnny is at it again ..... A new teacher was trying to make use of her psychology courses. She started her class by saying, "Everyone who thinks they're stupid, stand up!" After a few seconds, Little Johnny stood up. The teacher said, "Do you think you're stupid, Little Johnny?"
"No, ma'am, but I hate to see you standing there all by yourself!"

Did You Know?

Honey is the only food that does not spoil. Honey found in tombs of Egyptian pharaohs has been tasted by archaeologists and found edible.
Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a "Friday the 13th."
Coca-Cola would be green if colouring weren't added to it.
On average a hedgehog's heart beats 300 times a minute.
More people are killed each year from bees than from snakes.
The average lead pencil will draw a line 35 miles long or write approximately 50,000 English words.
More people are allergic to cow's milk than any other food.

Who Am I?

From the information given in the ten clues below, can you identify the mystery celebrity? A bit before your time, but I am sure most of you will guess the name of this famous person.

01 I was born on 16April 1889.
02 My place of birth was Walworth, London.
03 My parents were both music hall entertainers.
04 My maternal grandmother was half gypsy.
05 I was put in the workhouse at Lambeth when my mother was admitted to an Asylum.
06 I first toured America from 1910-1912 and shared a room in a boarding house with Arther Stanley Jefferson, who would later become known as Stan Laurel (Laurel and Hardy).
07 I started in films with the Keystone Film Company.
08 In the early days my principal character was 'The Tramp'.
09 I was a star of the silent screen.
10 One of my famous props was a cane.

Who do you think matches the clues given?