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Snakehips Tucker

Stage Name

Birth Name

'Snakehips' Tucker Earl Tucker
The Human Boa Constrictor  

     Often called the "Human Boa Constrictor" and the "Gelatinous Dancer." Originated and made famous the dance called the "Snakehips" in the early 1920's. A dance that is a wriggling, hip type dance that is descriptive of its name. Tucker came to New York in the mid 1920's via the May Kemp show from Baltimore. Snakehips got his first dance Show at Connie's Inn shortly after arriving into town and became a fixture for many years there. As time passed he would
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Work for many Night Clubs And theatre namely The Lafayette and Cotton Club.

   His costume was designed to show off his movements; it consisted of a loose fitting silk shirt with puffy sleeves, form fitting black bell bottom pants with a sequined cumberbun with a sparkling buckle in the center from which hung a large tassle. Sometimes he would replace the cumberbun and tassle with a sash wrapped around his waist a few times, tied, and hung down at the side. His aura was coarse, deep suggestive and menacing all at the same time, like a cobra stalking its prey.

   When Tucker would "slither on Stage" doing a step called Spanking the Baby, the audience would quiet down on the spot, watching and waiting for something sinister to happen. His stare into the audience made them feel like he was coiled up, ready to attack at a pip of a sound. As soon as he had the audiences attention he would snap into his snake hips movements which for the time was very, very risque, and embarrising if not revolted by many. His walk was a single tracking movement that strippers today use to their full advantage. As the dance increased in fervor, his hips gained momemtum and his hip rolls became bigger and more exaggerated almost appearing to become dislodged from the rest of the body. His stance would tighen and Tucker would start some Bolero type Arm movements starting with a series of four claps which would procede into a Belly Roll, Ripples and Body Waves, occasionally stopping and twirling his tassle to the beat. He then would raise his hand to his face, as if embarressed and start tremble and quiver then violently start shaking from head to toe, slowly turning around so his backside would show the whole effect of this body quake.

   His contempories state that the pock-marked faced Tucker wasn't educated, had a violent temper which was always getting him into trouble, who even carried a razor for protection, which he often used skilfully... in other words he was a bad-ass! and his aura reflected it, even Bill Robinson ( Who carried a gun) was known to have kept his distance. However he never had a problem getting women, they almost wanted to mother him with their affections. Most critics of the day did not know how to publicly describe what he was doing, and those who tried would struggle, so they said little at first. Tuckers act fit well with alot of the Stage acts and plays that used a jungle theme. Many dancers would try to steal and water down the appeal of Tucker's Snake Hips dance, but none came close to the original, there was only one ... "Snakehips."

   Tucker was mainly in the New York area Clubs and Revues. He can be seen a the Duke Ellington Short entitled 'Symphony in Black' doing the Snake Hips dance and dancing the Breakaway (Lindy Hop) with Bessie Smith. In the traditional sense this dance is really not a dance at all, just a hip wiggling, body waving, rippling, undulating, gyrating motion routine mixed with actual dances like the Grind, Shake, Mooch etc.


Birth Place

Birth Date

Spouse

Offspring

? Tidewater, Maryland ? d.1937 n/a n/a
       

Dance Types

Dance Partners

Music Titles

Breakaway Bessie Dudley East St. Louis Toodle-Oo
Lindy Hop Evelyn Welch Snakehips
Snake Hips Dance   That Snake Hips Dance [1929]
Tap Charleston ( Was not a Tap dancer)        
Truckin'        

Night Clubs

Theaters

Stage

Cotton Club Lafayette Theatre Blackbirds of 1928
Roseland Ballroom       Connie's Hot Chocolates [1928]
Savoy Ballroom       Rhythmania - Cotton Club  
Small's Paradise            
Stork Club            
Texas Quinan's            

Films

Television

Publications

1930 - Manhattan Serenade n/a 1928 - Evening World
1935 - Symphony in Black DVD       1931 - Boston Chronicle
Crazy House            
Live at the Cotton Club            
Duke Ellington & His Orchestra DVD (1929-1943)            
2002 - It's Black Entertainment DVD            

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