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Streetswings Dance History Archives: Juba Dance
William Henry Lane aka: Master Juba Dance Photo
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Juba Dance

                The lively and rhythmic Juba (aka: Giouba) which may have been related to the Ring Shout which was a group dance consisting of a mix of European Jigs, Reel Steps, Clog dance with African Rhythms thrown in, becoming popular in the Minstrel circuit around 1845.

    Onlookers would form a circle and two men would be in the center doing hand clapping, vigorous foot stomping and hand patting of the thighs, with feet turned out, and heels clicking together, generally the dancers had one leg raised as they danced a counter-clockwise circle... they would end the dance with a step called the 'Long Dog Scratch.' When the singers forming the circle (dancers doing a call and response form) said "Juba, Juba!, the whole circle would join in for a brief time.

       When the law allowed, the dance used only a drummer. Later Juba music was supposedly named after William Henry Lane [1825-1862 (or 1848?)] who was more famously known as "Master Juba". Henry Lane was a master

of the Jig, Clog, Giouba and the Ring Shout. The Juba dance consisted of steps called the Long Dog Scratch, Jubal Jew, Yaller Cat, Pigeon Wing and Blow that Candle Out.

        It's predecessor was also known as "Pattin' Juba" done by traditional West African tribes and was brought to the states by the slaves. Pattin' Juba "started" any dance form with a clapping or slapping of the thighs, the chest, knees and body thus creating a rhythm pattern. Many times the slaves would be involved in an impromptu gathering and had no instruments to dance, so they would "Pat" there own rhythms (as well as use their feet).

        Later during the slave revolt, slave owners were starting to get wise to the use of drums being used for more than just dancing and feared the potential of talking drums (the Yoruba Drum namely) to "speak" in a tongue unknown to the slave traders and thus to incite rebellion, these and other drums were once banned from use by African American slaves in the United States. Dancing was generally not banned however and the slaves had to use other device, such as Pattin' Juba to create the sounds for dance as well as to hide messages in the rhythms as the pattin' sounds could be heard for a distance. Not unlike how the Indians used smoke signals, the slaves used sounds. The clip on the right shows a basic Pattin' Juba as a group ringshout with the addition of the Buzzard Lope. The clip below shows the "Hambone" and Tap dance which are both related to the Juba. Combine all this together and you might imagine how Master Juba danced.

        It is also called "Djouba" and in Haiti, where it is done as a set dance called "The Martinique." The Juba dance was supposedly the indirect creation of Tap dance in America as an theatrical art form and American Jazz dance. Master Juba was in a few dance contests held at Vauxhall Gardens as well as a few other locations and he beat all comers, including the famous white dancer "John Diamond," who was the previous Worlds Clog Champion, not once but twice!.

Historically, the name Juba (Joob) as well as his son, was a king of Numidia in N Africa 85 BC- 46 BC. He fought on the side of Metellus Scipio and took his life after Caesar's victory at Thapsus. His son gained the title and married Cleopatra Selene who was daughter to Cleopatra and Antony.

       Also Juba is the capital of Bahr el Gebel State and headquarters of the Bahr el Jebel province; it is also the historic capital of Southern Sudan. There also is a River named Juba in NE Africa, rising in S central Ethiopia and flowing south across Somalia to the Indian Ocean: the chief river of Somalia. Jubal in the Old Testament is the alleged inventor of musical instruments (Genesis 4:21) and probably is related to the dance step above called the 'Jubal Jew.'

Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

Africa / USA 1840s n/a Plantation Dance

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

n/a In The Bottoms - Juba Dance ($ Suite) In The Bottoms - Juba Dance [MP3]
      Juba (1913) 1941 - Juba (Dett) (Clip)
      Juba stomp Juba and a O'Brown Squaw (Marsalis)
        Juba Beats (Juba)
        Juba Dance (Sinatra)
        Juba-Juba-Jubalee (Laine)
        I Pagliacci, Act i: Veste La Juba [MP3]
        Ross' Juba (Ross)
        Third Symphony [MP3] (Price-1940)
        Uncle Tom's Jig

Night Clubs



Dickens' Dance House (1835) Buckingham Palace (for Queen Victoria)
1848 - Vauxhall Gardens
            Colonial Williamsburg
            Congo Square, Place
            Five Points District (NY)
            New Orleans

Related Films


Ballets / Stage

1898 - Clog Dancing n/a Octoberfest: Polka dancers
1898 - Irish Jig       1833 - Long Island Juba (Bowery)
1898 - Sailor's Hornpipe        
1898 - Scotch Reel      


1941 - Jungle Jig       n/a
1953 - Tam Tam nell'oltre Giuba        
JUBA!: Masters of Tap & Percussion Dance            

Other Related Dances of the time...

Bambuca Coonjaint (Riverboat Shuffle) Jig (Gigue) Pattin' Juba Roger de Coverly
Bamboula (Haiti/Congo) Djouba (Juba) John Kunering (Canoeing) Pattin Rabbit Hash Shoe Fly
Barn Dance Djuka Dance (Cuba) Jonah's Band (1910s) Pedestal Dance Square Dance
Breakdown Folk Dance Jubilate (Trpudium) Pigeon Wing Tap
Buck Dance Gigue (Jig) Jump Jim Crow Reels Turkey in the Straw
Buzzard Lope Giuba Martinique (Juba) Ring Dance Virginia Reel
Cakewalk Hambone Mess Around, The Ring Shout Walk Around
Clog Hornpipe Old Zip Coon    

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Colleen ???? Thomas Dartmouth "Daddy" Rice King Joobor Juba I (c. 85 BC - 46 BC)
Ethiopian Serenaders - (1848) Tom from Palestine  
Johnny Diamond White's Serenaders Minstrel Troupe - (1846)  
Golden and Grayton (1890s - Pattin' Rabbit Hash) William Henry Lane (Master Juba)  
Pell's Ethiopian Serenaders - (1848)    

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...



Date Published


Character & Oriental Dances Frost, Helen 1927 A.S. Barnes
Dance Encyclopedia, the Chujoy, Anatole 1949 A.S. Barnes & Co.
$ Jazz Dance Stearns, Marshall (1954) rv.1994 Da Capo Press
Jig, Clog, and Breakdown Dancing Made Easy, With Sketches of Noted Jig Dancers E. James 1873 ??
Juba and American minstrelsy Hannah, Marian 1946 Auvergne Publishers
Juba This, Juba That (Juba based Children's Book) Virginia A. Tashjian 1969 Little, Brown
$ Juba To Jive: A Dictionary of African-American Slang Major, Clarence (1970) 1994 Penguin USA
Yorston's Popular History of the World,
Division 3 (Rome "The End Of Juba")
John C. Yorston 1883 ??

Musicians/ Bands/ Composers etc.


Poets / Writers

Black Face" Eddie Ross n/a Charles Dickens - American Journals
Florence Beatrice Smith Price (1887-1953)     Langston Hughes (Minstrel-Jonah Man)
R. Nathaniel Dett     Mark Twain (1840s)
Stephen Foster ?        
Victor Symphony Orchestra        
Wynton Marsalis        

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

African American dance Ibo (Africa-Cult) Jubilation (Feeling of Joy) Tom from Palenstine
Ante-bellum (Jump) Jim Crow Jubilee (creating Joy) Vaudeville
Black face Juba drums of Haiti Jujube (Sweet) Vernacular dance
Beatles: I Am The Walrus Jubbah Nago (Africa-Cult) Virginia Reel
Congo Square Jubal (Person-Old Testament) Pells Serenaders Zip Coon
Dance (dancing) of the Slaves Jubilant (Shout of Joy) | Jubilate Rhythm Bones Zulu origin
djuka | djouba Jubilare (17 Century Latin) Ring shout Washboard Playing
      Whites Serenaders


  • Juba Song Lyrics: There are many variations of the song lyrics below. SONG Lyrics:
    Juba Juba
    Juba 'dis and Juba 'dat,
    and Juba kissed 'da yellow cat,
    You sift the meal and ya gimme the husk,
    you bake the bread and ya gimme the crust,
    you eat the meat and ya gimme the skin,
    and that's the way,
    my mama's troubles begin... (Clip)