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Fri, 01.17.1919

The Black Bottom, African Roots in American Dance

*The Black Bottom dance is celebrated on this date. This is one of many dances brought from African culture through Blacks during and after slavery.

Originally starting in New Orleans the Black Bottom later worked its way to New York.  Some say blues singer Alberta Hunter introduced the dance. Others say Perry Bradford in Nashville, Tennessee introduced it to white America in 1919 when he wrote the Song "The Black Bottom.” Bradford's sheet music had the music as well as the dance instructions printed on them.

It has also been said that the Black Bottom was derived from the "Echo," an earlier dance. The stage Play "Dinah" in 1924 showcased the Black Bottom to the Public and almost overnight became as popular as The Charleston. Jelly Roll Morton wrote a song called Black Bottom Stomp and there was also a town called Black Bottom in Detroit, Michigan from 1900 to 1960.

The Black Bottom was performed at the Apollo Theater in 1927 with the George White Scandals. Additionally the Roseland Ballroom (New York) hosted a Black Bottom endurance (marathon) contest in 1927. Some original pattern names for this dance are "The Flick, The Side Shuffle, The Walk."

The Encyclopedia of African American Heritage
by Susan Altman
Copyright 1997, Facts on File, Inc. New York
ISBN 0-8160-3289-0

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