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the PEABODY dance

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The PeaBody dance
The Peabody Dance

                There is not much written on the Peabody. The Peabody was named after William Frank Peabody (born ?1878?), a controversial N.Y. Police Lieutenant (some say Fireman) who loved to dance around 1915, shortly after the invention of the Fox-Trot. The Peabody was basically a unique, jaunty type fast fox-trot, done to ragtime music. It is based more around a dance position (called the "English") which lead to some unique steps or patterns.

    The dance position (the English) comes from the need by Peabody's huge size (girth) to hold his partner on his right side to accommodate his size. The One Step and Peabody went on to become the (modern) Quick-step with a splash of Charleston thrown in. The Quickstep bears very little resemblance to the dance of the Peabody today, however some of the steps remain the same.

     The Peabody is kinda a corny little ragtime dance, that is lively and fun spirited to watch and looks like the participants are having a good time doing it. The music is ragtime (50mpm+) and so is the dress. (Suits and Bowler derby's for the man and long full dresses for the lady.)

    The basic step is a Cross-step and Lock step (1920) and the body position is that of "Right-Outside Position" (almost a promenade?). The traveling speed around the floor is quite brisk with the leader changing sides (from right side to left and back again) as he travels around the floor and some slight dipping motions here and there, similar to the rolling of a wave.

    On April 21st., 1934 at the Casa Del Rey Nightclub, there was a huge Peabody Contest. The T.V. Show "Dance Fever" had a couple of dancers dance the Peabody in the 1980's. In the Video clip, Jackie Gleason does the Peabody dance.


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

New York 1915 William Frank Peabody Ballroom

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

n/a 1857 - Peabody Polka (Not Related) By The Beautiful Sea
      1857 - Peabody Schottische (Not Related) With All My Heart
      1869 - Peabody's Funeral March (Not Related)  
      1871 - Washington Elm Quickstep (Not Related)  
(above sheet music is not Peabody dance music, just has the name in the title.)

Night Clubs



n/a n/a n/a

Films / Movies

Ballets / Stage

n/a n/a

Other Related Dances of the time...

Bunny Hug Fox-Trot Maxixe Two-Step
Castle Walk Gaby Glide One Step Turkey-Trot
Charleston Grizzly Bear Quick-Step [Org & Modern] Waltz
Collegiate Foxtrot Lambeth Walk Slow Fox Trot  
Fast Fox Trot Lame Duck Tango  

Peabody Dance Contest

Casa Del Rey Nightclub Newark, NJ April 21, 1934 Newark and Coney Island Ave's.

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Betty White Jackie Geason Gould / Clemmons
George Burns and Little Rose Cohen    
? Katherine Clemmons ? (supposed partner of Frank)    
William Frank Peabody    

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title Author Date Published Publisher
Complete Book Of Ballroom Dancing Stephenson 1980 Doubleday




Poets / Writers

George Peabody, ESQ. n/a n/a n/a

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

Ragtime Flapper    
Hip Flask Derby's    
Jazz WWI    
Francis Peabody (song "Wash elm" was dedicated to her)


Basic Steps:

4/4 (leaders part below starts left foot, followers are reverse)
the count: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (all quick's)
Fwd. - Fwd. - Side - Back (turning to right),
Back - Back - Side - Forward (turning to right), then repeat.

Partner is kept to one side, almost a promenade position except partner
faces partner, alongside. The steps are basically walking quickly to each beat with
a jaunty sway side to side on each step i.e.:
1 sway/step left, 2 sway/step right etc.

March 26, 2013