for many |
Night Clubsand theatre namely The Lafayette and Cotton
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.