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Buzzard Lope dance - Sea Island Singers with John Davis
The Buzzard Lope

            The Buzzard Lope was similar to the more modern Eagle Rock Dance and was very popular in the South. The Lope most likely is related to the older West African Buzzard dance. Sunbury Georgia was the first discovery of this dance but may not have originated there.

    The Buzzard Lope used outstretched arms like a bird and consisted of a shuffle step and a little buzzard like hop. The dance is said to be similar to the West African Buzzard Dance. It's original form is representing a Turkey Buzzard circling,

then getting ready to eat a dead Mule (some report a Cow or Carrion in general). Many people in the sidelines watching the dance would do a 'Patting', or make a rhythm by slapping (patting) their thighs, etc. while someone would call out / sing the cues (see bottom).

    The Eagle Rock replaced the Buzzard Lope in popularity as the buzzard lope was considered to risque as well as to the connection of Plantation life by city folk.

    The song "Throw Me Anywhere Lord" is a very popular Buzzard Lope song. In this clip, dancer John Davis of the Sea Island Singers is the buzzard circling the carrion and picking it up at the end of the song "Throw Me Anywhere Lord".

Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

Sunbury, Georgia 1880sn/aAnimal Dances

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music preview clip

Music Titles

Click to see or hear video clip pop up
The Buzzard Lope (TMAL) - Bessie Jones
  Video Clip not available at this timeThrow Me Anywhere Lord (TMAL) ... see clip
  Video Clip not available at this time 

Night Clubs




Films / Movies


Ballets / Stage


Newspaper Publications

      4/17/1890 - Morning Oregonian (Buzzard Lope Dance History)
      5/4/1890 - Constitution (Re Written Buzzard Lope History)
      6/28/1901 - Constitution (Darkies & Picks do Buzzard Lope)
      12/29/1901 - Constitution (Atlanta, GA) Lope Dance Mention
      7/4/1904 - Constitution (Like the Old Time Buzzard Lope, Irrogote)
      1914 - Decatur - Plantation Negroes do Buzzard Lope / Org. Turkey Trot
      9-7-1915 - Clearfield Progress - Page 4 (Lope Mentioned)

Other Related Dances of the time...

Ballin' The JackFish Tail / Fish BoneMobile Buck, theShimmy
BreakdownEagle RockMooch (and Sugar)Slow Drag
Buck DanceFunky ButtPattin' JubaSnake Hips
CakewalkGrind, the Pigeon WingSwing dance
Carmel WalkItch, the Ring ShoutWest African Buzzard Dance

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Buddy Bradleyn/an/a
Coot Grant   

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...



Date Published


$ Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular DanceStearns, Marshall 1994DaCapo Press




Poets / Writers


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

Animal Dances Igortote People (Philippines)Congo Square-
Plantation DancesWest African danceSpirtuals  

Other... Calls during a Buzzard Lope Dance

a Sideliner would call out (cue): explanation of the dance:
March Around! .............. (the Cow)
Jump Across!.............. (Checking to see if it's dead)
Get the Eye!.............. (Always go for that first)
So Glad!.............. (Cows dead)
Get the Guts!.............. (They like 'em next)
Go to eatin'!.............. (On the Meat)
All Right!-Cow mos' Gone! 
Dog Comin'! 
Scare the Dog! 
Look aroun' for mo' meat 
All Right!-Belly Full! 
Goin' to tell da res'. 
......... source: Marshall & Jean Stearns Book ... Jazz Dance, pg. 25.
"A New Dance Step That Has Captured All of Georgia"
(New York Tribune)

    An aged Georgia darky had lost his Mule and went out one Sunday to bury him. Arriving within sight of the body he came upon a group of forty-nine Buzzards. Forty-eight of them flew away. The Forty-ninth, whose feathers were gray with age, or early piety or something, declined to retire. Looking straight at the old darky he spread his wings

    they were nine feet from tip to tip

    tucked his tail under his body, drew in his chin and proceeded to lope around the dead carcass. The old darkey had been a wonderful dancer in slavery days, and prided himself on knowing every step that anybody else knew. But here was a brand new step he thought, that nobody else knew. It wrenched his soul to see that the ancient buzzard loping there at his case, as he had never seen any creature on earth could lope. He stood aghast. The spade fell from his hand. He spread his arms, bent his body in the middle, stiffened every joint except those at the elbow, wrist, ankle and knee and forgetting both the day and the place, followed the Buzzard around the Mule for four solid hours, keeping step with the bird.

    At dusk the Buzzard flapped his wings and went to roost. while the old man loped for home, feeling younger than he had in years. This is the story of the Buzzard Lope steps that captured everybody. Clubs were formed all over the state to learn the Buzzard Lope and for the time being, all unhappiness over the Negro postmasters was forgotten. The Buzzard Lope beggars description. You cannot appreciate it till you see it. It ought to go on stage for the benefit of the whole community.

From the "Morning Oregonian Newspaper": (4/17/1890) ... page 12
  • Note: This page uses some racial slurs and statements that in no way reflect this site OR owners feelings. They are used here in reference to Historical context only.