Created on 11/04/2007
Latest update on 18/08/2020

Artist: Elisabeth Welsh
Author: James Johnson/Cecil Mack
Year: 1923

Step and tune inspiring all later versions, introduced in Miller & Lyles all-black revue Runnin' Wild, produced by George White. Choreographed by Elida Webb; dancing by The Dancing Redcaps, clapping and footstomping (thàt was the gimmick), music by James P. Johnson; lyrics by Cecil Mack, the guy who wrote Shine. The signature Charleston dance step had been around at the Ziegfeld Follies that year, but the craze hit the masses since Runnin' Wild, spilling over with demonstrations and even competitions, whereby rumours continued to spread that young ladies left their girdles in the powder room for freedom of movement, leaving moralists something to talk about. Soon black and white wanted to master the steps, making the Charleston one of the first important factors of integration in America. Never before, rhythm (of handclaps and stomping feet) was so overwhelming. The Boston Pickwick Club collapsed while the Charleston was mass demonstrated, killing 50.



Arthur Gibbs & his Gang [first recording (for Victor); version used in '50 in film Tea For Two]


Perry Bradford's Jazz Phools [for Paramount]


James P. Johnson [author; reissued on the cd collection Ken Burns Jazz (Columbia Legacy)]


Ben Selvin


Paul Whiteman


Isham Jones


Django Reinhardt


Spike Jones


Ernie Fields


Temperance Seven [hit UK]


Wing And A Prayer Fife & Drum Corps


Pasadena Roof Orch.


Mike Oldfield


Doop [used in Doop; n°1 UK]

Like Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson was a major link between ragtime and jazz. While Morton represented the New Orleans link, Johnson stood for New York. Exponent of the stride style and brought up in Harlem where in 1913 he became piano player in the Jungle Casino, a dance joint for sailors. That day the place was packed with guys from Charleston, South Carolina. Fascinated by their black- and proudness, Johnson caught their hi-steppin' in an unresistable dance step and tune. The namegiving was obvious. The dance itself, knee bending and all, predates 1905, for that's the year lyricist Noble Sissle heard about it in Savannah, Georgia.


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Arnold Rypens
Rozenlaan 65
B-2840 Reet (Rumst)

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