2 3 Throwback Thursday Shimmy | Ballet Webb

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Throwback Thursday Shimmy

Throwback Thursday Shimmy

The beginning of the twentieth century saw the emergence of a new dance that involved an energetic shaking of the body – it was soon called “the Shimmy”.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first record of it was in 1917 as the shimme-sha-wabble. It is next found in the 1918 edition of the British Dancing Times, which described it as “a very, very crude” dance.”

The dance’s shaking and twitching movements were deemed so suggestive, that the shimmy was banned in many cities, including New York and Chicago (see Link of the Day).

In Atlanta, the Alamo Theater used a cutout display of Viola Dana with a mechanism that allowed movements like the shimmy for the film The Chorus Girl's Romance  (see above photo). The chief of police ordered the mechanism turned off.

Why was it called the Shimmy? Opinions vary. The word itself is often considered to be a US variant of chemise, an undergarment. Further back, in Old English, a chemise is a type of undershirt, used for warm and to absorb perspiration. But the dance’s quivering movements probably also made people think of light shimmering, or things shaking, thus the name.

In the early 1960s, a few hit songs featured the Shimmy, including Bobby Freeman's "Shimmy, Shimmy," the Olympics' "Shimmy Like Kate", and Little Anthony & the Imperials' "Shimmy Shimmy Ko-ko Bop."

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Dance History Factoid #181:
“The origin of the shimmy dance is debated.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Do a loony-goony dance
'Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain't been there before.”
Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic

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