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Walka Around Dancers dancing to the Song Dixie
The Walk Around

                The Walk Around or "General Ruckus" as it was occasionally known was done in the rural southern states as early as the 1860's. These "Walkers" would walk a straight line and balance buckets of water on their heads as it was used earlier to help pass the time in the fields, whereas the buckets would be filled with crops. An earlier dance known as the Ring Shout contributed to the birth of the Walk-Around and it's use in the Minstrel Shows of the time which made the Ring Shout a secular parody.

       Minstrelsy was the most popular form of entertainment in America from 1845-1900. When used in the Minstrel shows the entire cast would come on stage and partake in the Walk Around, singing and dancing for the closing

number called the "afterpiece" in the show, while others would start and end the show with it. Because of the use of the Walk Around in the Minstrel shows, it received wide spread popularity and influenced many dances to come.

        The Breakdown and Walk Around was one of the main sources of the "Chalk Line Walk" (1880s) which later became the "Cakewalk," a comic exaggeration of the the plantation owners dances or promenades of the time. Competition Cakewalk dancers were known as "Walkers" and these contests grew very big. It is associated with the Horay dance as well.

Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

Southern States 1860's African American Slaves ??

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

n/a 1924- O' Katherina (Paris) Alabama Walk Around
            $ Cakewalk: Grand Walkaround (Hershy Kay)
            Dixie (written as a Walk Around)
            John Diamond Walk Around
            Magic Act: Finale-Gala Cakewalk
            Matt Peel's Walk Around
            Promenade (Gerswin)
            Walkaround Song ?

Night Clubs



  n/a Congo Square, New Orleans

Films / Movies

Ballets / Stage / Shows

  Walkaround Time (Merce Cunningham 1980) ...not related!

Instructional Videos


n/a n/a

Other Related Dances of the time...

Big Apple Juba (Giuoba)      
Breakdown Ring Shout      
Chalk Line Walk        
Circle Dance        
Horay, the      

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Master Juba Daddy Dan Rice n/a
Shorty George Snowden Jim Crow  

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

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




Poets / Writers

Gottschalk n/a n/a n/a

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

After Dance Creole Negro Dances Ring-Shout
African-American Dance Kabala Olio Spiritual Dances
Comedy Cakewalk Minstrel Plantation Dances Walk dances

Basics of the dance.

The dance was competitive in nature. At the start of the music, typically a fast dance song in 2/4 or 4/4 time, the dancers (who were already seated in a semicircle) stood and began clapping and slapping themselves in time ("patting Juba"). One dancer or a couple then moved downstage to the focal point of the semicircle and performed a set of elaborate dance steps, lasting for about 16 bars. Once these dancers retreated back to the semicircle, another dancer or pair of dancers took a turn. This repeated until all dancers had soloed. Finally, all the dancers broke ranks and danced the minstrel show into an intermission.(Wikipedia)
October 20, 2012