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1888 - 'A Negro Slave Dance - the Bamboula" by E. W. Kemble Bamboula Dance History Title
         The Bamboula (Spirit of Ancestors) may have originated in Louisiana but was probably from Africa. This was a popular Negro/ Creole Slave dance in Louisiana that dates back before the Civil War (1861-1865) and was still danced around 1886. It was said to be danced by the slaves (?) in the 'Place Congo Square' in New Orleans (although today is said to be related to the African Bomba).

   It was a racy type dance for the time and was reported that there was no similar type of dance and the dancers faces were very grave while dancing.  The Bamboula dance however was very frantic, roared, rattled, twanged, contorts and

tumbles and  lasted  for quite awhile... A test of stamina if you will. The Banjo was used as a musical instrument as well as other instruments.

   Musicians sit kinda in a circle and play a bamboula melody which is characterized by a precise rhythm, while some of the women form a "chorus", singing and clapping their hands, and the men bow and the ladies curtsy. A male Bamboula dancer would step into this ring and start his dance and chants "Aye Ya Yi." Sooner or later he dances over to another female and takes her hand, guiding here into the circle ... stands her before him and starts to dance the Bamboula for her.  During this time the musicians become more frantic in their playing and the female chorus grows more sharp and staccato in nature.  During this fervor, another couple enters the ring and starts their Bamboula dance and yet another enters. The dance is very frantic now, with leaps and chanting, the feet start moving in motions not seen before. As one Bamboula dancer tires out through exhaustion, falls to the ground, he is pulled out of the circle by his feet or arms and another enters the ring and this could last for hours.

   The musicians would play the Bamboula for hours, changing rhythms during their span of playing. As time goes on, even the spectators would get caught up in the dance. It has been written (The Century Magazine, a popular quarterly vol. 31, issue 4, Feb. 1886) that the Bamboula dance was eventually stopped by the police in Congo Square and only the music survived. It has been reported that the Bamboula dance still survives in the Virgin Islands and the music is danced too during Mardi Gras in New Orleans by the "Bamboula Queens."

  • Other Bamboula Notes:
  • A island town named Bamboula flourished during the Bronze Age (between 13th - 11th century BC) located on the outskirts of the modern village of Episkopi, along the southwestern coast of Cyprus and near the modern harbor town of Limassol.
  • Also ... there is a cooked Beef recipe called Bamboula.

(note: this page contains racial terms not used today, but are relevant to the times and of this dance, they should in no way be considered the webmasters way of thinking).

Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

Africa (Congo) 1840's ? Senegambians ? Mating

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

n/a 1880 - Bamboula Polka 1845 - Bamboula (Gottschalk) (Clip)
  1921 - The Bamboula AKA: Danse des Negres
    1880 - Bamboula Polka
    1886 - The Bamboula
    1886 - Remon Remon?
    1886 - Belle Layotte?
    1886 - Ma Mourri?
    1886 - Aurora Pradere?
    La Bomba (related)
    1974 - La Bamboula (F. French)
    1980 - The Blue Bamboula
    1906 - Bamboula (Social dance of Trinidad) Sousa
    2000 - Bamboula 2000 (CD)
    $ Bamboula, danse des nègres for piano CD (Gottschalk)

Night Clubs



n/a His Majesty's Theatre (1925) Haiti
Grand Theatre (1/4/1914) Louisiana
New Orleans
New York
Place-Congo Square
Santa Domingo
St. Croix
Virgin Island



Ballets / Stage

1919 - Herrin der Welt 4. Teil - König Macombe, Die n/a 1914 - The Smarter Set (Grand Theatre)
1925 - The Bamboula



Le cocktail "Bamboula" 2/1886 - Century Magazine (Bamboula)
4/1889 - Freeborn County Standard (Voodoo)
7/23/1891 - Ohio Democrat (Voodoo Rites)
8/2/1906 - Post Standard (Voodoo Priestess)

Other Related Dances of the time...

Bambuca Cata, the (Chacta) Counjaille (Music) Quadrille The Voudou
Babouille Chacta Gigue Ring Shout
Blowing the Quills Chica Jim Crow Dance Saba
Bomba Circle Dance Juba Dance Stick Dance
Breakdown Conga Mandingo Voodon / Voudon
Calinda Congo Pattin Juba The Voodoo Dance

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


n/a n/a n/a

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...



Date Published


Creole Slave Dances, The Dance In Place Congo Cable, George, W. 2/1886 Century Magazine
Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance Marshal & Jean Stearns 1964 DaCapo Press
New Orleans As It Was Costellanos 1895 L. Graham Co



Poets / Writers

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1848)
1886 - E. W. Kemble G.W. Cable (1866)
John Philip Sousa (1906) Henry Didimus (1853)
S. Coleridge Taylor
Theodore Nash (1928)

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

African-American Creole Malvina Latour (Queen) Slaves
Bamboula Queen Darky Mandingoes Slave Ships
Changa or chango Diaspora Marie Laveau Tignon (Turban)
Civil War Hindoo (Hindu) Mulatto Voodoo
Congo Square Kiamba Negro Yaloff
Coonjye (Counjaille) Bamboula Ribouldingue

Partial Words to song:
"Look at that darky there, Mr. Banjo, doesn't he put on airs!
Hat cocked on one side, Mr. Banjo, walking stick in hand, Mr. Banjo.
Boots that go crank, crank, Mr. Banjo, look at that darky there, Mr. Banjo,
Doesn't he put on airs!"