Cakewalk (Was: Mongolian greetings)
JMB at STRADLEY.COM
Tue Sep 17 13:55:21 UTC 2002
Barry's 1874 citation is from The New York Times. I've reproduced part of his post below. Safire also missed an 1863 citation from the OED: 1863 H. EDGAR Jrnl. in Montana Hist. Soc. Contrib. (1900) III. 133 Around and around that bush we went... We had a good laugh over our cake walk.
13 December 1874, NEW YORK TIMES, pg. 4, col. 6:
A MYSTERY EXPLAINED.
WHAT A CAKE WALK AND LIVE PIGEON
PIE REALLY ARE--SOCIAL ENJOYMENTS
_From the Pottsville (Penn.) Miners' Journal._
The entrance fees over, eight couples were found ready to walk for the cakes to be given to those who promenaded with the most grace and the most in accord with the spirit of this enlightened age. They marched to the tune of "John Brown," played on the organ and sing by the audience.
25 October 1897, NEW YORK DAILY TRIBUNE, pg. 10, col. 2:
ORIGIN OF THE CAKE-WALK.
FORMERLY A MARRIAGE CEREMONY, BUT ITS
SIGNIFICANCE NOW LOST.
>From the New-Orleans Times-Democrat.
The cake-walk proper had its origin among the French negroes of Louisiana more than a century ago. There is little doubt that it is an offshoot of some of the old French country dances. It resembles several of them in form. From New-Orleans it spread over the entire South, and thence North. It was found of convenience to the plantation negroes. They were not wedded by license, and it was seldom that the services of a preacher were called in. At a cake-walk a man might legitimately show his preference for a woman, and thus publicly claim her for a wife. In effect the cake-walk was not different from the old Scotch marriage, which required only public-acknowledgment from the contracting parties. So this festival became in some sense a wooing, an acceptance or rejection and a ceremony. This explains its popularity with the blacks, outside of its beauties, with the accompaniment of music, which is competent at all times to command negro support. Cake-walking has improved, as do most things that are constantly practised. It has lost its old significance in the South. Negroes now get married, when they marry at all, in white folks' fashion. It has become, however, a pantomime dance. Properly performed, it is a beautiful one. The cake is not much of a prize, though the negro has a sweet tooth.
From: Bapopik at AOL.COM [mailto:Bapopik at AOL.COM]
Sent: Tuesday, September 17, 2002 2:00 AM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Mongolian greetings
CAKEWALK--William Safire's column last Sunday said that "cakewalk" was from 1877. Many months ago, I posted an 1874 citation. Of course, the NEW YORK TIMES corrections and letters to the editor are not open to me. I will never be treated fairly by that publication. But still, a fellow ADS member--can't I even get respect in the ADS?
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