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Killer Joe Piro demonstrating the Mule
The Mule !

            "The Mule" is based on one dominate step called "the Mule Walk" from the 1910s which predates this version of this dance. The Mule was created by Killer 'Joe' Piro and his partner for a Smirnoff Vodka advertisement for a new drink called "The Mule" (a Vodka with a 7-Up mixer) which got a lot of attention for him in the 1960s. "The Mule" part was usually done at the start of the dance, partners facing each other and most of the patterns of the dance were based on the older "Mule Walk." Once the person learned the basic step the rest was said to be easy.

    Prior to Piro's 1960's version, there was "Mule Walk" music was written by James P. Johnson's titled “the Mule Walk”. The song was in a stride style of music, which is similar to ragtime. Johnson is said to have composed it based on a number of country and square dances he was doing while working at "The Jungles Casino" around 1913, he later published it in 1938."The Mule Walk" dance was created by

Jane Allen. It was part TurkeyTrot, Horsetrot and Tango. The Music started then wentinto a Waltz and everyone stopped dancing until the original songwould start again ('stubborn as a Mule' idea - they wont danceto a waltz). So now we have "The Mule Walk" and "The Mule", both are totally different dances but Piro refers to the Mule Walk in his instructions, but not the title.

    "The Mule" instructions by Killer Joe Piro:
1) Start by standing straight and feet a few inches apart, facing your partner.
2) Lift your right hand high over head, Elbows slightly bent, palms facing forward towards your partner. Lift the right knee forward and bent, about hip height and as you bring     the right arm down alongside it with the chest also coming forward. The movement should be vigorous and strongly accented like the 2nd count of the Jerk.
3) Foot comes down, body straightens as left hand is raised overhead.
4) Repeat step 2 with the left arm and foot. Practice the Mule Walk above well so you get the groove before advancing onto the Mule. Get into that straightening and bending     groove when lifting the legs/knees with its strong accents. These accents lamely portray a mule walking.

   To make the above into 'The Mule' you would start to turn, Kick your feet, and flap your hands like a Mule (see pic) and generally do whatever you felt like, keeping the above rhythm going which at times could get difficult to do. (more pics at bottom)


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

USA  1966 Killer Joe Piro Fad

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music preview clip

Music Titles ...

n/a n/a Video Clip not available at this time Smirnoff Mule, the (Skitch Henderson)
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
Mule Walk, the (James P. Johnson)
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
Mule Walk Stomp (James P. Johnson)





Films / Movies

Ballets / Stage

n/a n/a

Instructional Videos


n/a n/a

Other popular Dances of the time...

Bunny Hop Frug, the Mashed Potato Slop, the
Bossa Nova Hitchhiker (Popeye) Mess Around, the Square Dance
Bristol Stomp, the Hucklebuck, the Monkey, the Stomp, the
Bug, The Hully Gully Mule, the Stroll, the
Calypso Jelly Fish, the Pony, the Surf, the
Cha Cha Jerk, the Popeye, the Surfer Stomp
Continental, the Limbo, the Potato, the Swim, the
Elephant, the (Arm makes a Trunk) Locomotion Roach, the Swing dance
Fly, the Madison Rock and Roll Waddle
Freddie, the Mambo Shimmy / The Shake Watusi

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Killer 'Joe' Piro   n/a

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title Author Date Published Publisher
$ Jazz Dance: The Story of American ... Stearns, Marshall 1994 Da Capo Press




Poets / Writers

James P. Johnson (1894-1955) n/a n/a n/a
Skitch Henderson            

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Note: Skitch Henderson LP Title: Skitch plays the Mule' and discotheque Selections.
Killer Joe doing more  steps of the Mule
March 24, 2013