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What's a Buckdancer?

GUEST,Knappo 02 Nov 01 - 12:04 PM
Tedham Porterhouse 02 Nov 01 - 12:10 PM
GUEST,Les B. 02 Nov 01 - 12:18 PM
GUEST,Knappo 02 Nov 01 - 12:19 PM
Sorcha 02 Nov 01 - 12:21 PM
Amos 02 Nov 01 - 12:21 PM
Amos 02 Nov 01 - 12:24 PM
catspaw49 02 Nov 01 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,Knappo 02 Nov 01 - 12:53 PM
Genie 02 Nov 01 - 01:23 PM
Charley Noble 02 Nov 01 - 03:55 PM
GUEST 02 Nov 01 - 04:30 PM
Bennet Zurofsky 02 Nov 01 - 06:06 PM
Lin in Kansas 02 Nov 01 - 07:23 PM
Amos 02 Nov 01 - 08:52 PM
SDShad 02 Nov 01 - 08:57 PM
Justa Picker 02 Nov 01 - 09:12 PM
Mark Clark 02 Nov 01 - 10:51 PM
Les B 02 Nov 01 - 11:56 PM
SeanM 03 Nov 01 - 03:38 AM
Amos 03 Nov 01 - 12:20 PM
Bennet Zurofsky 03 Nov 01 - 02:42 PM
GUEST 04 Nov 01 - 02:47 AM
Dead Horse 04 Nov 01 - 07:01 AM
Brían 04 Nov 01 - 09:15 AM
GUEST 04 Nov 01 - 05:56 PM
Stewie 04 Nov 01 - 07:19 PM
Stewie 04 Nov 01 - 07:52 PM
Brían 04 Nov 01 - 08:07 PM
paddymac 05 Nov 01 - 04:28 AM
GUEST,katlaughing 05 Nov 01 - 11:05 AM
Steve Latimer 05 Nov 01 - 11:23 PM
Stewie 06 Nov 01 - 12:03 AM
Amos 06 Nov 01 - 12:20 AM
Stewie 06 Nov 01 - 12:38 AM
GUEST,Arkie 06 Nov 01 - 01:02 AM
GUEST,Joe 11 Oct 14 - 02:57 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 11 Oct 14 - 05:09 PM
LadyJean 11 Oct 14 - 10:27 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Oct 14 - 03:50 AM
MGM·Lion 12 Oct 14 - 04:25 AM
Mr Red 12 Oct 14 - 04:56 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 05 Sep 18 - 08:11 AM
Jack Campin 05 Sep 18 - 08:34 AM
kendall 05 Sep 18 - 08:18 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 05 Sep 18 - 09:24 PM
Hagman 06 Sep 18 - 12:28 AM
Jack Campin 06 Sep 18 - 04:12 AM
leeneia 08 Sep 18 - 12:05 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 09 Sep 18 - 05:27 PM
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Subject: What's a Buckdancer?
From: GUEST,Knappo
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 12:04 PM

In the song "Uncle John's Band" by the Grateful Dead, they use the term buckdancer. I can't find any definition in a dictionary for it. Any ideas? Tom


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 12:10 PM

A buckdance is a type of traditional dancing done in the Appalachians. Its sort of like clog dancing but is usually done by one person. Bill Monroe used to buckdance on stage during his shows.

BTW, "Uncle John's Band" was Jerry Garcia's tribute to the New Lost City Ramblers. Uncle John referred to John Cohen.


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 12:18 PM

I just picked up a CD of Sam McGee, a great oldtime guitar picker who played from the late 1920's on up into the 60's. One of his first recordings was "Buckdancer's Choice," which the liner notes say he played for a buckdancer (one person) who travelled with his group's touring show. Sort of a medicine show/variety act apparently.


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: GUEST,Knappo
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 12:19 PM

Thanks Tedham. I thought it might be something like that. Also, thanks for the background info on the tune. Tom


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Sorcha
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 12:21 PM

Also called Buck and Wing in some parts of the country.


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Amos
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 12:21 PM

There's a well known banjo piece with that title -- Buckdancer's Choice. I always imagined it was a young feller doing a country reel at some town social. James Dickey's fourth poetry volume was named after it. There is also a James Dickey poem by that name on this page.

My belief is that it is a man dancing "buck-and-wing", a country style related to clogging. I believe that it became a specialty of traveling minstrels. Here's an excerpt from a discussion at oldtimeherald.org with someone who wrote an instruction book:

...And then, within clogging, is it precision clogging, traditional mountain clogging, or what the modern dancers call buckdancing?"

I asked Ira how he would define buckdancing.

"From my experience, I've come to think that there are three basic, different definitions for buckdancing. One is more part of the modern precision world of clogging: really fancy clogging that goes way beyond the basics in traditional clogging. But, that's totally different from the early blues style of step dancing—a black form of stepping that goes along with traditional and rural blues. And then you have another definition of buck, where what I do would be called buckdancing. That is, basically, any southern traditional form of step dancing that's solo and improvised. So, by that definition, I'd be a buckdancer—and any flatfooter would be a buckdancer. There are some people who use buck to mean flatfooting."

I asked Ira what made him decide to write his instruction book, Appalachian Clogging and Flatfooting Steps.

"The instruction manual is an expansion of a very small booklet I put out originally, to introduce a system of notation applicable to American style cloggers and flatfooters. I wanted to put out something that really was a presentation of steps so that people could learn new steps, and it would document a lot of the steps that I did which represent my circle of experience. Also, as a lot of people [taking dance] workshops scramble to write things down and remember steps, it saved them from having to do that, and they could concentrate on the workshop.

Here's another discussion which describes it:

In a 1991 interview with music researcher Joyce Cauthen, Macon described set dances held in neighbors' homes where his father played guitar and Robert Thomas' father called the figures that guided the couples on the dance floor. He also described another type of dance involving rhythmic foot shuffling and tapping, known as buckdancing. Macon, who was an excellent buckdancer himself, recalled the competitive nature of the scene. "They'd be singing what I'd be playing. Like 'Sixteen-Twenty' and 'Mean Old Frisco.' And then all the ladies would stand back and the men would come around and do the dance and see which one do the best dancing. He'd get out there and do the buck dance and other'n get out there and do another kind of dance and then another'n come in and see which one beat. And they had a little pot they give him, which one do the best dancing. They had the hat around, they'd give him a tip."

Regards,

A


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Amos
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 12:24 PM

Here's a more definitive response:

A buck dancer is one who dances the buck-and-wing. From TheDictionary of American Regional English:

"buck-and-wing n, ... Also buck (dance) ... A lively dance usually performed by one person. 1968 Stearns Jazz Dance 191, The wordWing was used to describe a combination known as Buck and Wing--the general designation for tap dance (and almost anything else) at the turn of the century. Introduced on the New Yorkstage in 1880 by James McIntyre, the Buck and Wing began toswing...and launched a new style of Negro-derived dancing. 1977 Nevell Time to Dance 169sAppalachians, Buck-dancing is the simplest and yet themost enigmatic kind of southern mountain dancing. Essentially, buckdancing is a dance for one but can be for more than one; the dance itself involves nothing more than moving your feet in time to the music. The origins of buckdancing are unclear. The name probably came from the Indians who may have had a ceremonial dance danced by a brave costumed as a buck deer."


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 12:31 PM

Clogging is a folk-dance form from the southern mountains which has it's roots in Irish step dancing, Native American dances, and the minstrel show type tapping of southern blacks. Buckdancing is done in a flatfooted manner and is one type of clogging in a way. Flatfoot is an older style of buckdancing.

I saw a recent Fiddler's Fest at Cookeville, Tennessee and they have competitions for many instruments as well as dancing. They had it separated into several styles but I don't recall all the names.

The "flat-footed" skipping kind of tap style you may have seen with some square dance teams is the general idea.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: GUEST,Knappo
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 12:53 PM

Whoa! Great info gang. That makes me think the kind of dancing I generally do is more drunk dancing than anything. Ha! Thanks all. Tom


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Genie
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 01:23 PM

The "Wing Dance, Buck Dance" is(are?) also mentioned in the song "The Charleston," -- the original popular song about the Charleston dance craze.

Genie


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 03:55 PM

Not to be confused with "Gandydancer."


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 04:30 PM

If you get the late lamented John Hartford's two reel video instruction tape on banjo, there is an intro to buckdancing. On an analogy with "tablature," Hartford referred to the notations as "footlature." There are also some shots of buckdancers buckdancing on the Vid "Times Ain't What they Used to Be," Vol. I.

I have a feeling that the name has a racial origin, but I don't really wanna go there. Lemme walk upstairs and see what the OED says. No entry. Hate it when that happens. Sorry, Max. Tend to dislike when that happens.

www.Google.com has 163 entries. Go for it.

Being pretty trady, our group has on a few occasions inspired buckdancers in the audience to strut their stuff. I love it & always throw in a few extra choruses.

CC


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Bennet Zurofsky
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 06:06 PM

Amos' answers are terrific, especially the James Dickey poem, but I believe they overly deemphasize the likely racist origin of the term suggested in "GUEST's" 4:30 p.m. posting.

Male Black slaves, particularly young and strong ones, were often referred to as "bucks," which obviously emphasized their supposed sexual prowess and animal-like nature (as opposed to being full-fledged humans). As several of Amos' quotations reflect, the term is particularly associated with solo step-dancing that had its roots in either slave or minstrel-show tradition. In other words, it was a form either performed by Black men or by White men in Blackface.

I never know whether to be encouraged or discouraged when terms like this seem to have been divorced from their questionable (if not downright racist) origins even in the realm of fairly academic discussion. It is encouraging because it is good to leave our nation's deeply embedded racism behind and be able to simply enjoy the dance. It is discouraging because some things, like how deeply prejudice against Blacks has infected our entire culture, should not be forgotten.


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Lin in Kansas
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 07:23 PM

Random House Unabridged Dictionary, CD Rom version 1.7, has this:

buck' and wing'

a tap dance derived in style from black and Irish clog dances, marked esp. by vigorous hopping, flinging of the legs, and clicking of the heels.

[1890-95, Amer.]

Lin


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Amos
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 08:52 PM

It is equally possible that the etymological path here is to "buck" as a verb, meaning to throw up the back and kick up the legs (as, a horse trying to throw a rider). It makes more sense associated with "wing", since th emnstrels often raised their elbows up while flinging legs about as described above.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: SDShad
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 08:57 PM

So now we know what a buckdancer is--cool! Thanks, Tedham, & all. But I'm still wondering just what it means to say of something that it's a "buckdancer's choice."

Chris


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Justa Picker
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 09:12 PM

If anyone has a copy of Tabledit and would like the tab for Buckdancer's Choice - for guitar, PM me with an e-mail addy, and I'd be glad to send it to you. (I play and enjoy the tune very much.)


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Subject: RE: BS: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 10:51 PM

Good thread and good answers. I've heard JP's version of the McGee clasic and really enjoy the way he plays it.

Tedham, Monroe always called the little dance he did on stage the Kentucky backstep. He said he learned it from his mother. Now the Kentucky backstep may be a form of buckdance for all I know—I'm no expert on folk dancing—but I never heard Bill call it that.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Les B
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 11:56 PM

SDShad - I've always assumed it meant a particularly good piece of music to "buckdance" to, and that the dancers would select it, if given a choice, by the guitarist or banjo player who was about to play for them.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: SeanM
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 03:38 AM

As to the theoretic 'racist' origins of the terms - correct me if I'm wrong on this, but for a substantial time now, pretty much any young man could be referred to as a 'young buck'? I seem to remember reading examples going back at least to Twain's writings...

M


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Amos
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 12:20 PM

Absolutely Sean; we can get really paranoid about political correctness to the point where we see spooks under every bed!!

A


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Bennet Zurofsky
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 02:42 PM

I will give Amos the credit for the clever double entendre. Philip Roth's novel, The Human Stain, is on point and recommended to all.

It is not, however, merely a question of shallow "political correctness" to note and be sensitive to the racism that is an extremely important aspect of the history of American popular and folk music and dance.

While Mark Twain plainly wrote, at least in part, with the intention of breaking down racist stereotypes, his characters' uses of phrases like "young buck" hardly demonstrates that the term "buckdancing" is free from a racist origin. Indeed, it might tend to prove my point rather than Sean's depending upon the character and the context.

While it is possible that there is a purely innocent derivation of the term, one should hesitate in being too glib in assuming such innocence. The fact that this term seems to have been first applied to Black male dancers or to white men performing in blackface, all of whom were probably performing in a manner that greatly resembled what would have been called step-dancing if it was performed by a white man to something other than minstrel-style music, would seem to support my admittedly unresearched theory.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 02:47 AM

In Irish Set-Dancing (as distinct from Ceili dancing) most sets include men & women. A few sets are traditionally danced by men only, these are referred to a "buck" sets.
Don't know if there is any connection to the nomenclature "buckdancer".


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Dead Horse
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 07:01 AM

Serious question: What is it if my wife does it all the time, what is the female equivalent if any? Doe-dancing? Squaw-dancing? Or aint wimmin s'posed to do it, anyhows?


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Brían
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 09:15 AM

I wonder if "Buck Dancing" is performed soley by men, the root word might actually be Buachaill, which means Boy in Irish.

Ooooooo, I might mention, I am really enjoying reading this thread.

Brían


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 05:56 PM

At the end of "O brother where art thou", when they're singing man of constant sorrow, they're sort of dancing on stage, I thought it was just a goofy sort of thing but would this have been an example of buckdancing?


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Stewie
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 07:19 PM

Here is an interesting quote by Joyce Cauthen from Harmon Hicks, old-time fiddler from Bibb County, Alabama:

That was our favourite - a good buck-dancer. Now, this wouldn't be at a regular square dance ... There'd be a couple of string bands - cost you a dime to go in - a whole dime. And they would put three men up there for judges. They'd put up $5 for the best buck-dancer and naturally he had the opportunity to pick out the tune he wanted to buck-dance to - a lot of them have better time than other tunes. And then there'd be maybe a dozen of them men ... there wasn't no women. But it was some of the best buck-dancing, just like somebody beating a drum. The noise that they were making was absolutely on the tune. My daddy told me about a man who was old when I knew him, but they'd set a cup of water on top of his head, and that guy could dance all over the floor and that cup of water would never fall off. [From Cauthen interview with Harmon Hicks April 1983. Quoted in June H. Cauthen 'With Fiddle and Well-Rosined Bow: A History of Old-Time Fiddling in Alabama' Uni of Alabama Press, First Paperbound Edition 2001, pp 152-153]

Elsewhere, Cauthen also refers to buck-dancing by blacks in Alabama. Many former slaves were interviewed in the 1930s under the auspices of the Federal Writers' Project. Lucindy Lawrence Jurdon and Frank Menefee from Lee County, Alabama, recalled corn-shuckings where 'somebody would clap hands, beat pans, blow quills or pick de banjer strings' to provide music for the 'buck-dance, sixteen-hand reel and cake walk'. [Cauthen p 7].

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Stewie
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 07:52 PM

I meant to mention that, according to Mike Seeger in his notes to Sam McGee 'Grand Dad of the Country Guitar Pickers' Arhoolie CD 9009, Sam composed the tune 'Buckdancer's Choice'. The recording on the CD includes an introduction which used to be part of the tune remembered by chance at Sam's October 1970 session.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Brían
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 08:07 PM

I know there is an Irish Céilidh Dance called "The Sixteen Hand Reel". Of course, Cake Walk is derived from the practice of awarding a cake to the best dancer, which would date back to Ireland, probably Ulster. Dancing with a cup of water on one's head reminds one of the type of training the Dance Masters would put there students through.

I am now doubtful of the relationship of Buck/Buachaill. The root meaning of Buck(Buc, Boc, Poc), which seemed to have Saxon, Gaelic, Icelandic origins, all seemed to point to male animals, usually goats. Although the gender of the dancer seems to be male, I wonder if the name points to the style of dancing as well?

Brían


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: paddymac
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 04:28 AM

My first exposure to what was called "buck dancing" in the piney woods of north FL was a form of line dancing involving several guys (commonly "in their cups" to varying degrees). It was usually done in all-male settings, such as hunt camps and the like, and was a kind of initiation rite in which the younger guys and first-time visitors to the camp were expected to participate, while the old-timers were an enthusiastic audience. There was sometimes "solo" dancing as well, but it was more often a group endeavor. Each camp had its own traditions. Always great fun, but my sense was that it was considered "out of place" in other settings. The term "buck" was plainly a reference to the fact that it was an activity essentially reserved to the male sphere.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: GUEST,katlaughing
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 11:05 AM

There is a very interesting historical explanation of clogging, buckdancing, etc., including information on slaves being forbidden to dance and drum, as a result of they started tapping their feet, anyway it's worth a read at Dance Locator


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 11:23 PM

Taj Mahal does Buckdancer's choice. I believe he attributes it to Elizabeth Cotten.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Stewie
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 12:03 AM

'Buck Dancer's Choice' was Sam McGee's very first recording - for Vocalion in New York in April 1926. It has been reissued on CD on Sam McGee 'Complete Recorded Works 1926-34' Document DOCD-8036. In his notes to the CD, Charles Wolfe explains that Sam accompanied Uncle Dave Macon to New York in April 1926 for a marathon recording session. In between sessions, Sam was sitting around picking and the recording engineer, Jack Kapp, was impressed and asked him why he didn't make a record. Sam said that he didn't think he was good enough. However, Kapp prevailed and Sam recorded 'Buck Dancer's Choice' and 'Franklin Blues'. Wolfe comments that 'Buck Dancer's Choice' was a piece that Sam had strung together to play for 'Dancing Bob' Bradford, a buck-dancer who often toured with Uncle Dave.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Amos
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 12:20 AM

As for the possibility racist origin, it should also be mentioned that the term was used to describe the male of various species long before Africans were subjected to slavery by Europeans.

Amer Her:buck 1 (bîk) n. 1. a. The adult male of some animals, such as the deer, antelope, or rabbit. b. Antelope considered as a group: a herd of buck.

Regards,

A.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Stewie
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 12:38 AM

Further to my previous post, I found this in Wolfe's 'Good-Natured Riot'. It seems Sam worked the tune up from 'an old guitar piece', but gave it this title:

In January 1925, Sam joined [Sid] Harkreader and [Uncle Dave] Macon on the stage of the Loew's Bijou Theatre in Birmingham. Billed only as 'Guitarin' Sam' (his publicity read, 'He climbs all over a "wicked" guitar), he appeared on stage in a rural costume, sat on a plaster-of-Paris tree stump, and played guitar solos while a dancer named Bob Bradford did his buck-and-wing. For one dance, Sam worked up an old guitar piece into a number that was designed for the dancer, and gave it the name 'Buckdancer's Choice'. It would become one of the McGee trademarks. [Charles K. Wolfe 'A Good-Natured Riot: The Birth of the Grand Ole Opry' Country Music Foundation Press 1999, p194]

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 01:02 AM

Solo step dancing was traditional in the various southern mountain regions. In North Carolina, it was frequently called clogging. In Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee it was buckdancing or flatfooting. In the Ozarks it was and is called jig dancing. There were also regional differences in style. Clogging placed more emphasis on heavy beats. Buckdancing and flatfoot dancing is characterized by the foot beating out a rhythm with the beat of the foot almost keeping pace with the notes of the tune. To do this the foot had to remain relatively close to the floor, hence the term flat foot. One traditional dancer, I remember could have danced in a telephone booth. To get all the beats required in buckdancing the tunes are sometimes played at a slower tempo than cloggers or jig dancers prefer. The jig, which bears very little similarity to the Irish jig is a conglomeration of clogging and buckdancing. The older dancers typically, but not exclusively, keep their bodies somewhat erect and perform few arm movements or very slight arm movement. While in theory keeping time to the music was a key element in practice it was almost irrelevant. The purpose was to enjoy the music and show off a bit. We had a deaf dancer in Mountain View some years ago, the daughter of one of the musicians who was a very good dancer and kept better time than many of those who could hear. Canadian step dancing was introduced to southern clogging a few years ago by competition dancers looking for something different to give them an edge in contests. Some folks referred to the Canadian steps as buckdancing.

One of my favorite dance stories was told to me by a friend who was closely involved in the competition at the Uncle Dave Macon Days in Tennessee. This is an area where competition is serious business and judges in fiddle and banjo contests have been advised to leave through the back door, get in their trucks and get as far from town as possible before the winners are announced. In the buckdance competition there are divisions according to age. In this one particular contest, the winner was challenged by some of the other contestants who claimed that he danced in the improper division for his age. The contest officials attempted to settle the issue by asking to see the contestant's driver's license. He said he did not have one. Then they asked for his birth certificate. He did not have one with him. They asked for his Social Security Number so that a check could be run. He did not have a Social Security number either. They asked for any other form of indentification that could provide proof of age. His answer was that he had been advised not carry identification since he was in a witness protection program. I did not hear whether he competed in the liar's contest.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 11 Oct 14 - 02:57 PM

Buck Dancing gets it's name from a dance a male deer performs during mating season. Blacks, Whites, and Native American's in the south all imitated the buck deer dancing, not necessarily learning it from each other, but it was natural to imitate what they saw in nature. Some of the English, Scots Irish, Irish, and west Africans all had similar types of dancing in their native lands. My biological grandfather, born in 1876, a stone cold white man from the hills of north Georgia, buck danced all the time. The dance wasn't associated with a particular race, but was a south eastern and appalachian regional dance. People only think the name had a racial connotation, because civil rights era blacks would accuse "Uncle Tom's" of "buck dancing" at the white man's command. They specified "buck dancing" instead of just "dancing", because buck dancing was seen as old fashioned, so they used that specific term to emphasise that they thought the "Uncle Tom's" weren't down with the new way of thinking or weren't "with it". It simply wasn't a race specific dance. Bottom line: The buck dance was named and modeled after a buck deer dance. The fact that, at least in the old days, it was mostly performed by men also points toward the fact it was imitating a male animal in a mating ritual. Otherwise, dancing by yourself, might not have been seen as a "manly" endeavor, in a time when, right or wrong, a man was supposed to "act like a man".


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 11 Oct 14 - 05:09 PM

Dear Guest JOE

You have made some almost phenominal statements.

Please reference....(an original primary source would be a Gold Mine.....but anything else might be a vein leading ....to the "mother load."

IE


"Buck Dancing gets it's name from a dance a male deer performs during mating season." SOURCE????


Sincerely,
Gargoyle

there is a


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: LadyJean
Date: 11 Oct 14 - 10:27 PM

I was 16 when I saw someond buck dance on Grandfather Mountain, and loved it. Now I know what I saw. Thank you.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Oct 14 - 03:50 AM

This is an article on the dance edited by a one-time (sorely missed) regular contributor to this forum, Azizi Powell
Jim Carroll

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
The Pigeon Wing, The Buck & Wing, and Buck Dancing (information & videos)
Edited by Azizi Powell
This is Part I of a two part series on the 19th century dance known as the "buck & wing", and "buck jumping" dances that derived from it.
Part I provides information about & video demonstrations of buck & wing, buck dancing, and several wing movements in tap dancing.
Part II of this series features information & comments about "buck jumping", a style of dancing that is closely associated with members of New Orleans Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs & New Orleans second line paraders.
PART TWO for Part II.
The content of this post is presented for folkloric, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owner.

Disclaimer: I'm not a dancer or a dance historian. My comments are shared in the interest of eliciting more information & opinions about this subject.

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INFORMATION ABOUT BUCK & WING AND BUCK DANCING
These comments are posted in no particular order & are given numbers for referral purposes only.

Notice the different descriptions in these quotes about what a "wing" was. My take on these descriptions was that the wing started out as flapping the arms and minstrelsy & vaudeville changed it to flapping a leg.
Comment #1: Tap roots: The Early History Of Tap Dancing
by Mark Knowles (McFarland & Company Jefferson, North Carolina May 2002)
Page 44
"Old style buck dancing consisted mainly of stamps and chugs, sometimes embellished with toe bounces. The origins of buck dancing are unclear, but sources indicate that it has many elements in common with the Cherokee stomp dance. There is conjecture that it is also related to the ceremonial dances in which Indians braves would put on the antlers and skin of a male deer...

One of the most popular buck dances among African American slaves was the pigeon wing (also called the chicken wing), When performing the pigeon wing, dancers strutted like a bird and scrapped their feet, while their arms bent at the sides, were flapped like wings. When interviewed for the Virginia's Writers Project, ex-slave Fannie Berry described the pigeon wing thus:
"Dere was cuttin' de pigeon wings-dat was flippin' you arms an legs roun' an' holdin ya neck stiff like a bird do." "

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Comment #2: Lynne Fauley Emery's 1989 book Black Dance: From 1619 to Today(page 90):
"The Pigeon Wing appears to have been performed over a large geographical area. References were made to the Pigeon Wing from South Carolina to Texas, and from Indiana to Mississippi. Horace Overstreet, of Beaumont, Texas, remembered the dance by another name. Overstreet stated that on Christmas and July 4, a big dance would be held on their plantation. '...jus' a reg'lar old breakdown dance. Some was dancin' Swing de Corner, and some in de middle de floor cuttin' de chicken wing.' ...

The Pigeon Wing and the Buck dance appear as authentic dances of the Negro on the plantation, much before they were picked up for the minstrel shows and billed as the "Buck and Wing"."

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Comment #3: From http://www.streetswing.com/histmain/z3buckw1.htm
"Buck dancing is a pre-tap dance routine that was done by Minstrels and Vaudeville performers in the mid nineteenth century portraying the African American males known as "bucks." Originally, the pigeon wing step (foot shaking in the air) was a big part of this early folk dance but later separated when variations began such as the shooting out of one leg making a "Wing"....

The legendary dancer "Master Juba"* did a buck and a wing in the 1840s. It was said that the first buck & wing routine was performed on the New York stage in 1880 by James McIntrye as well as inventing the "Syncopated Buck & Wing"…

The Buck and Wing was adapted to the Minstrel stage from the recreational clogs and shuffles of African Americans...

Buck: Rhythm and Percussive. Originally just a stamping of the feet to interpret the music which later became much more refined when mixed with the Jig and Clog. Buck dancers danced alone and in a small area of space...

Flatfoot is mostly Buck dancing... but much more laid back in which the soles of the feet stay very close to the floor and without the soles of the dancers' shoes making much noise, nor stomping. The flatfoot dancer seems relaxed and carefree while he or she dances, even though the feet are constantly moving. If you can imagine a "soft shoe" Buck dance. This dance is a spot dance (done in place) with the arms moving only slightly to flow with the dancer's balance giving them a fluid look. If more than one person wants to dance at the same time, they each dance individually, i.e. "freestyle", but still adhere to the rhythm of the music being played...

Pigeon wing (1830s) was originally just shaking one foot in the air...
-snip-
*"Master Juba" was Black. My assumption is that James McIntrye was also Black.

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Comment #4: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clogging
"Solo dancing (outside the context of the big circle dance) is known in various places as buck dance, flatfooting, hoedown, jigging, sure-footing, and stepping…One source states that buck dancing was the earliest combination of the basic shuffle and tap steps performed to syncopated rhythms in which accents are placed not on the straight beat, as with the jigs, clogs, and other dances of European origin, but on the downbeat or offbeat, a style derived primarily from the rhythms of African tribal music.[16]
Buck dancing was popularized in America by minstrel performers in the late 19th century. Many folk festivals and fairs utilize dancing clubs or teams to perform both Buck and regular clogging for entertainment.
Traditional Appalachian clogging is characterized by loose, often bent knees and a "drag-slide" motion of the foot across the floor, and is usually performed to old-time music."
BUCK and WiING


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 12 Oct 14 - 04:25 AM

Re the supposed racial origins of the word: there was a standard phrase which you will find in line 2 of Johnny Come Down To Hilo in DT - "From American Ballads and Folk Songs, Lomax: Recorded by Forebitter, also Oscar Brand"

and it is no use pretending at this time of day that there wasn't. English MP Sir Gerald Nabarro got much criticised for using it on BBC radio in 1963, "remarks which were excised from a repeat of the programme [Any Questions] the following week", tho he claimed he had meant it in a complimentary sense! Read all about it in his Wikipedia entry.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Mr Red
Date: 12 Oct 14 - 04:56 AM

now here's a conundrum:
Is it accurate?
I first saw a Buck and Wing on archive footage taken by Thomas Alvar Edison. It was referred to as a "Buck & Wing" and the erudite commentator remarked that the Buck was the dancing but the Wing was a reference to the arms and legs as they rocked back and forth (elbow crooked) in a semi-crouching stance that was representing a turkey wing. I may have made the connection myself about the tune "Turkey in the Straw" but it always sticks in my mind. The clip would not have had audio but the documentary might have added some music for atmosphere.
The 20 second (ish) film clip is famous and it looks like a turkey wing is being represented. The dance is done by a young African-American.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 05 Sep 18 - 08:11 AM

From above:
“Buck Dancing gets it's name from a dance a male deer performs during mating season. Blacks, Whites, and Native American's in the south all imitated the buck deer dancing…”

“The origins of buck dancing are unclear, but sources indicate that it has many elements in common with the Cherokee stomp dance. There is conjecture that it is also related to the ceremonial dances in which Indians braves would put on the antlers and skin of a male deer...”

From the Clogging wiki:
“The term "buck," as in buck dancing, is traceable to the West Indies and is derived from a Tupi Indian word denoting a frame for drying and smoking meat; the original 'po bockarau' or buccaneers were sailors who smoked meat and fish after the manner of the Indians.”


As taught to Mizz Moyer's dance classes c.1950s:

Buck = Old English for male deer. Most likely from the Dutch - bok; Germanic - bock &c. General usage could be most any male beast, ie: humans. “Going stag” used to apply to men only; buck party = stag party &c.
Buckskin = leather from the skin of the male deer.
Bucks = soft sole, derby style dance shoes with uppers of buckskin. Not Oxfords and no taps.
Buck dance = old style soft shoe (clog = hard sole, old style tap.)

And around the Bahamas they were called “buccaneers” because men were men and goats (ie: bucca) were scared.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Sep 18 - 08:34 AM

Solo dancing by men with dramatic stamps is more widespread than suggested here - cf. the Hungarian "legenyes":

dance from Transylvania as performed in Pennsylvania

Whatever the origins of the word, maybe the dancing itself has Eastern European influences?


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: kendall
Date: 05 Sep 18 - 08:18 PM

In Portland Maine there is a great music store called Buck dancers choice. If they dont have it, you dont need t. It's run by J.P. Martin aka Phineas. He's a great guy to do business with. I've bought at least half a dozen instruments there.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 05 Sep 18 - 09:24 PM

The circus minstrel/vaudeville “buck dance” was always in a constant state of creative flux. It started off as plain “soft shoe” but today it's a form of tap and modern bucks have more metal taps than 'regular' tap shoes. Urban dance's “buck” is another beastie altogether.

Tap Dance Wiki:
“There are different brands of shoes which sometimes differ in the way they sound. "Soft-shoe" is a rhythm form of tap dancing that does not require special shoes, and though rhythm is generated by tapping of the feet, it also uses sliding of the feet (even sometimes using scattered sand on the stage to enhance the sound of sliding feet*) more often than modern rhythm tap. It preceded what is currently considered to be modern tap, but has since declined in popularity….”

“Tap dance has its roots in the fusion of several ethnic percussive dances, including African tribal dances, English clog dancing and Irish jigs; the relative contribution of different traditions is a point of disagreement among historians and dance scholars. Tap dance is believed to have begun in the mid-1800s during the rise of minstrel shows.”

*ie: Dixie's “scratch your gravel.”

Came across this thread poking around for Indian Intermezzo/Indianist Movement material. I wouldn't fault the latter's sincerity or effort but, I'd take any American Indian based popular entertaintment with a huge grain of Euro-American salt. The so-called 'Wild West Show' was probably the most popular of the lot.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Hagman
Date: 06 Sep 18 - 12:28 AM

Coming late to this one, but hope this helps.

From the always interesting volume

The complete annotated Grateful Dead lyrics : the collected lyrics of Robert Hunter and John Barlow, lyrics to all original songs, with selected traditional and cover songs / annotations by David Dodd ; illustrated by Jim Carpenter ; edited by Alan Trist and David Dodd.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
1. Rock music—United States—Texts. I. Hunter, Robert, 1941 June 23– II. Barlow, John, 1947– III. Dodd, David G., 1957– IV. Trist, Alan. V. Grateful Dead (Musical group) VI. Title.
ML54.6.C62 2005 782.42166'0265—dc22 2005051378
ISBN-13: 978-0-7432-7747-1
ISBN-10: 0-7432-7747-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-7432-7749-5 (Pbk)
ISBN-10: 0-7432-7749-X (Pbk)
eISBN: 978-1-4391-0334-0


"A buck dancer is one who dances the buck-and-wing. From The Dictionary of American Regional English:

buck-and-wing, n. . . . Also buck (dance) . . . A lively dance usually performed by one person.
The word wing was used to describe a combination known as Buck and Wing—the general designation for tap dance (and almost anything else) at the turn of the century. Introduced on the New York stage in 1880 by James McIntyre, the Buck and Wing began to swing . . . and launched a new style of Negro-derived dancing.
Appalachian buck-dancing is the simplest and yet the most enigmatic kind of Southern mountain dancing. Essentially, buck-dancing is a dance for one but can be for more than one; the dance itself involves nothing more than moving your feet in time to the music. The origins of buck-dancing are unclear. The name probably came from the Indians who may have had a ceremonial dance danced by a brave costumed as a buck deer.

A note from the record jacket of Taj Mahal’s 1973 album Oooh So Good ‘n’ Blues, which includes a song titled “Buck Dancer’s Choice”:

“Buck Dancer’s Choice” is a tune that goes back to Saturday-night dances, when the Buck, or male dancer, got to choose who his partner would be. Sort of the opposite to “Ladies’ Choice.” While mostly used as a string-band tune, anyone calling this tune out would be sure to get a positive reaction from all the Does and Bucks.
In The Anthropology of Dance, Anya Royce says:

There existed also a genre that has been labeled “water dances.” These, including such named dances as Set the Floor, Buck Dance, and Juba [compare line in “Mister Charlie”], all involved a test of skill in balancing a glass of water on the head while dancing. Juba and Buck dances appeared as well without the water balancing. . . . Emery also claims a long past for the Pigeon Wing and Buck Dance: “The Pigeon Wing and the Buck Dance appear as authentic dances of the Negro on the plantation, much before they were picked up for the minstrel shows and billed as the Buck and Wing.

Buck Dancer’s Choice (1966) is the title of a volume of poetry by James Dickey.

Also the title of an old mountain fiddle tune. It was definitely in Garcia’s repertoire in 1962, when he was a member of the Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers (Jerry Garcia, guitar and banjo; Marshall Leicester, banjo and guitar; Dick Arnold, fiddle. Leicester was Garcia’s early music guru and banjo teacher.) Here’s a set list of theirs from June 11, 1962:

Boar’s Head Coffee House, Jewish Community Center, San Carlos, California

—Set I—
Run Mountain
Billy Grimes the Rover
Cannonball Blues
Devilish Mary
Buck Dancer’s Choice
Little Birdie
Sally Goodin’
Hold the Woodpile Down

—Set II—
Crow Black Chicken
The Johnson Boys
Shady Grove
Hop High Ladies
Sweet Sunny South
All Go Hungry Hash House
Man of Constant Sorrow
Rabbit Chase
Three Men Went A-Hunting"


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Sep 18 - 04:12 AM

The water dance also has an Eastern European parallel - dancing with a bottle on your head is common in Romania and I think much further afield (maybe spread by the Gypsies?).

The attestations of these dances in the US all postdate the start of mass immigration from central and eastern Europe.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: leeneia
Date: 08 Sep 18 - 12:05 PM

Here's a youtube video with old-timers demonstrating buck dancing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQEFlIc6WvI

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In 1976, somebody wrote a book about English (or maybe New England) country dancing in honor of America's centennial. I still remember two points from that book.

1. In the opinion of the old-timers, the dancing has become faster and faster as time passes.

2. Because of the speed, special steps and individual moves added to a dance, such as the buck and wing, have been forgotten.

I now play for country dance, and I agree it goes too fast. I see so many people who try it once and go away discouraged.


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Subject: RE: What's a Buckdancer?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 09 Sep 18 - 05:27 PM

Too fast nowadays - Amen to that.

Buck dancing is not the same thing as buck & wing dancing. Neither is deer dance interchangeable with buck dance; if either actually existed outside Euro-American 'horse opera' romanticism.

The rise of American circus minstrel buck/clog/tap dance coincidences with the rise of stepdance in Ireland; the 19th century mass immigration to America and the newer post-Civil War "Irish" sub-genre of American minstrelsy.

Does 'speculation' on 'probabilities' and 'appearances' really need to go so far afield as the culinary habits of pirates and Tupi Indians?


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