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Snake Hips Dance

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Snake Hips Tucker doing the Snake Hips Dance
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Snake Hips  Dance History Title

    The Eccentric dance style called the Snake Hips dance was made popular by Earl 'Snakehips Tucker'. Tucker was often times called the "Human Boa Constrictor" and the "Gelatinous Dancer." Basically the dance was just a contortion, twisting, shaking type of dance done around the stomach, hips and backside areas that Tucker took to extremes and based his whole act upon it.

   Duke Ellington produced a Musical Short entitled 'Symphony in Black' that features Earl 'Snakehips Tucker' doing the Snakehips dance as well as dancing the Breakaway (Lindy) with Bessie Dudley. The Snake Hips dance was also reportedly done in the more modern movie "Colors," (altho I have not seen it.)

    The dance eventually became mainly a female dance with such females as Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Dudley and Evelyn Welch. Later moved into the Rock and Roll community like Elvis Presley and finally arrived into the Burlesque - Strip Tease world. Some remnants still exist in other forms of dancing like Ballroom, Dirty Dancing, Latin Dances, Macarena, Lambada etc, but are usually very subdued when compared to the original.

    Other dancers would try to copy this dance, but none came close to Tucker. For more info and better description of the dance see Tuckers page ... Click Here

Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

USA 1922 Earl Tucker Eccentric

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

n/a 1929 - That Snake Hips Dance 1923 - Snake Rag (Oliver)
      Snakehips 1923 - Snake Hips (Williams)
            1929 - That Snake Hip Dance
            Black Snake Dance
            Snake Hips Dance (Ellington)
            Snake Hips Dance
            Snakes hips - a jungle jazz (Jazz-o-harmonists)
            Snake Hips Walk
            Snakehips Swing (Johnson)
            The Snakey Blues
            CD - Black British Swing - Var. Artists

Night Clubs



the Café de Paris (Johnson) Fays Theatre Harlem, New York
Connie's Inn        
Cotton Club (Tucker)        
Onyx Club (Tucker)        
Savoy Ballroom (Tucker)        

Films / Movies


Ballets / Stage

1930 - Crazy House 1960 Playboy's Penthouse 1928 - Connie's Hot Chocolates
1930 - Love in the Rough   1929 - Ain't Misbehavin'
1930 - Manhattan Serenade   Rhythmania - Cotton Club
1934 - Oh Daddy   Snakehips (Nat'l Theatre)
$ 1935 - Symphony in Black (Paramount)    
$ Duke Ellington & His Orchestra (1929-1943)  


Live at the Cotton Club   n/a
1988 - Colors    
$ 2002 - It's Black Entertainment [DVD]    

Other Related Dances of the time...

Apple Jack Georgia Grind Shimmy - Sha Wabble
Ballin The Jack Hula Shorty George
Baltimore Buzz Jitterbug Suzi Q
Belly Dance Lindy Hop Swing
Black Bottom Mess Around Tap
Breakaway, the Mooch Truckin
Dance Of The Seven Veils Peckin Zarandeo
Eagle Rock Rhumboogie Waltz
Foxtrot Salome  
Funky Butt Shim Sham Shimmy  

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Buddy Bradley Evelyn Welch n/a
Buddy "Stringbeans" Lemay Freddie Taylor (closest to Tuckers version)  
Cab Calloway Ken 'Snakehips' Johnson  
Earl Tucker Milt Kamen  
Ella 'Snakehips' Fitzgerald Nigel Miguel (Colors-1990's)  
Elvis Presley 'Snakehips' Davis (1942 w/ Ink Spots)  

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title Author Date Publisher
$ Black Beauty, White Heat: A Pictorial History of Classic Jazz 1920-1950
Driggs, Frank 1996 DaCapo Press
$ Jazz Dance: The Story of American ... Marshall Stearns 1964 DaCapo Press
$ The Harlem Renaissance: Hub of African-American Culture, 1920-1930 Watson, Steve 1996 Pantheon Books



Poets / Writers

Duke Ellington (1899-1974) Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996) n/a
Johnny Dodds (1892-1940)        
Joseph 'King' Oliver (1885-1938)        
Ken 'Snakehips' Johnson (d.1940)        
Spencer Williams (1893-1969)        

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

Cotton Club Boys / Girls     ??
November 20, 2012