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The Jam

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Jam or Hoe Down

   The "Hoe-Down" was done originally in the Minstrel shows of days gone by. Each dancer of the troupe would come out and dance a few steps, while the rest of the dancers circled around and watch and cheer them on, clapping and stomping their feet, as one dancer would finish another of the dancers would take their place in the circle. This would repeat till all danced. This Hoe-Down would also make it's way to the Barn Dance.

The Hoe-Down incorporated a variety of American Negro elements such as Foot Stomping, Hand Clapping, Ring Games and Spirituals.

   In later years the Swing dance community adopted this same type of Hoe-Down, but it would be called a "Jam" usually happening spontaneously and was done just for fun. The Jam would form to certain known songs being played, usually a medium speed song such as "Rockin' at Midnight" or "Give Me Something Fried" and each subsequent song getting faster, then finally ending with Hand Clappin'.

    This Jam would be used to generally showcase the "Hottest" dancers or local "hotshots" in the place as well as past champion and/or legendary dancers from the past and sometimes a challenger who thought they were good enough. Occasionally a couple would come out who should not be out there, usually an unknown dancer to the group but would quickly be replaced. No one is ever booed but sometimes cheered on or applauded. Each dancer is generally given about 30 to 45 seconds to shine before being replaced by the next dancer with some getting a few more seconds due to procrastination by other eager dancers confused on who's going next.

    These dancers would ease out onto the floor, letting the current dancer become aware they were coming out with the current dancers dancing off the floor. Once the current dancer was safely off the floor the then current dancers were somewhat in the center of the Jam circle, they would cut loose. The best dancer's would usually finish last as no one would want to replace or "follow them" on the floor, or the Music got to dang fast or occasionally the music would just end and the dancer's would go back to general dancing.

The Hip-Hop community also does a "Dance Jam" or "challenge dance" with a solo or group taking the circle knocking out the previous solo or group that was dancing.


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

U.S.A. n/a Minstrel Shows Folk

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

n/a n/a Hand Clappin' (the Baxsters)
        Baxsters Boogie (the Baxsters)

Tough Tennars (the Baxsters)
      Give Me Something Fried
      Rockin' at Midnight

Ballrooms / Night Clubs



Press Box Nightclub (CA) n/a U.S.A.
Palladium Ballroom        
Palomar Ballroom        
Savoy Ballroom        

Films / Movies


Ballets / Stage

Breakin' I & II n/a n/a
Flash Dance        


Swing Kids       n/a

Other Related Dances of the time...

Barn Dance Lindy Hop West Coast Swing
Folk Dance Swing Dance  

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Top Swing Dancers   n/a
Top Salsa Dancers    

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title Author Date Published Publisher



Poets / Writers

n/a n/a Wittke

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

Jams Olio   -
Minstrel Vaudeville      
The Basic Step
November 6, 2012