"Ballroom brawl"

hpst@earthlink.net hpst at EARTHLINK.NET
Fri Dec 29 14:16:07 UTC 2006

I discovered this online. The somewhat cleaned up parody is from my memory.

It has been many years since balls or ballrooms were a prominent feature of
American life.

Page Stephens

 “After the Ball”: Lyrics from the Biggest Hit of the 1890s
The 1890s witnessed the emergence of a commercial popular music industry in
the United States. Sales of sheet music, enabling consumers to play and
sing songs in their own parlors, skyrocketed during the “Gay Nineties,” led
by Tin Pan Alley, the narrow street in midtown Manhattan that housed the
country’s major music publishers and producers. Although Tin Pan Alley was
established in the 1880s, it only achieved national prominence with the
first “platinum” song hit in American music history—Charles K. Harris’s
“After the Ball”—that sold two million pieces of sheet music in 1892 alone.
“After the Ball’s” sentimentality ultimately helped sell over five million
copies of sheet music, making it the biggest hit in Tin Pan Alley’s long
history. Typical of most popular 1890s tunes, the song was a tearjerker, a
melodramatic evocation of lost love.


A little maiden climbed an old man’s knees—
Begged for a story: "Do uncle, please!
Why are you single, why live alone?
Have you no babies, have you no home?"

"I had a sweetheart, years, years ago,
Where she is now, pet, you will soon know;
List to the story, I’ll tell it all:
I believed her faithless after the ball.“

”Bright lights were flashing in the grand ballroom,
Softly the music playing sweet tunes.
There came my sweetheart, my love, my own,
‘I wish some water; leave me alone.’

When I returned, dear, there stood a man
Kissing my sweetheart as lovers can.
Down fell the glass, pet, broken, that’s all—
Just as my heart was after the ball.“

”Long years have passed, child, I have never wed,
True to my lost love though she is dead.
She tried to tell me, tried to explain—
I would not listen, pleadings were vain.

One day a letter came from that man;
He was her brother, the letter ran.
That’s why I’m lonely, no home at all—
I broke her heart, pet, after the ball."


After the ball is over, after the break of morn,
After the dancers' leaving, after the stars are gone,
Many a heart is aching, if you could read them all—
 Many the hopes that have vanished after the ball.

This brings me to the parody which describes a ballroom brawl.

Casey got hit with a bucket of shit while the band played on..
He waltzed round the floor and got hit with some more while the band played
He was so loaded he nearly exploded, his poor girl shook with alarm.
He married the bitch with the seven year itch while the band played on.

Then there is Killigrew's Soiree which describes a fight at a soiree which
might be described as a ball.

Read the text notes.

You may talk of Clara Nolan's ball or anything you choose
But it wouldn't hold a snuff-box to the spree at Kelligrew's
If you want your eyeballs straightened just come out next week with me
And you'll have to wear your glasses at the Kelligrew's soiree

There was birch rinds, tar twines, cherry wine and turpentine
Jowls and calavances, ginger beer and tea
Pigs' feet, cats' meat, dumpling's boiled in a sheet
Dandelion and crackies' teeth at the Kelligrew's soiree

Oh I borrowed Cluny 's beaver as I squared me yards to sail
And a swallowtail from Hogan that was foxy on the tail
Bill Kewly's old working pants and Patsy Nolan's shoes
And an old white vest from Fogarty to sport at the Kelligrews

There was Dan Milley, Joe Lilly, Tartan, and Mrs. Tilley
Dancing like a little filly t'would raise your heart to see
Jim Bryan, Dan Ryan, Flipper Smith and Caroline
I tell you boys we had a time at the Kelligrew's soiree

Oh when I arrived at Betsy Snook's that night at half-past eight
The place was blocked with carriages stood waiting at the gate
With Cluny 's funnel on my pate the first words Betsy said
"Here come the local preacher with a pulpit on his head!"

Dere was Bill Mews, Dan Hughes, Wilson Tapp and Teddy Rews
While Briant he sat in the blues and looking hard at me
Jim Flynn,Tom King and Johnson's champion of the ring
Of all the boxers I could bring at the Kelligrew's soiree

"The Saratoga Lancers first!" Miss Betsy's kindly said
Sure I danced wit Nancy Cronan and her granny on the head
And Hogan danced with Betsy oh you should have seen his shoes
As he lashed old muskets from the rack that night at Kelligrews

There were boiled Guineas, cold Guiness, bullock's head and piccaninnies
Everything to catch a penny t'would break your sides to see
Boiled duff, cold duff, apple jam was in a cuff
I tell you boys we had enough at the Kelligrew's soiree

Crooked Flavin struck the fiddler a hand I then took in
You should see George Cluny's beaver and it flattened to the brim
And Hogan's coat was like a vest the tails were gone you see
"Oh," says I, "the Devil haul ye and your Killigrews soiree!"


Sources: Mercer 141;Burke 1960: 22; Doyle 1927: 67 and later editions;
Fowke 1954: 116 and 1973: 90; West 1:20; For recordings by the CJON Glee
Club, Harry Hibbs, Dick Nolan, Gerry Reeves, St. John's Extension Glee
Club, A.R. Scammell, Terra Novans, Omar Blondahl, Burl Ives, Alan Mills,
Tom Jim & Garth, Travellers, see Taft 86. Roud 4430.

History: comic song, located in a town near St. John's,   composed by
Johnny Burke, a resident of St. John's from 1851 to 1930. First published
in 1904 and reprinted in various songsters including all editions of Gerald
S. Doyle's.

Text notes: A fancy ball ends in a brawl "in the fashion of Irish/American
popular songs of the era" (Rosenberg in West 1:55).   American presidential
candidates in 1912 are named in the second verse of a recomposed version.

Tune notes: A binary tune with line repetitions a b a b'. Conjunct motion
and many tone reiterations are appropriate for the text heavy verses, with
much internal rhyme.

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Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive, Memorial University of
Newfoundland. No unauthorized copying or use is permitted. For more
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Copying is allowed for scholarly discussions only.

> [Original Message]
> From: Chris F Waigl <chris at LASCRIBE.NET>
> Date: 12/18/2006 10:33:20 AM
> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "Ballroom brawl"
> Jim Parish wrote:
> > >From this morning's San Diego Union-Tribune:
> >
> > 'Said rookie tackle Marcus McNeill: We would be the first finesse team
> > with an All-Pro running back. It's a double slap to the offensive line.
> > already don't get a lot of the credit. You're asking for a ballroom
> > That's what you saw out there.'
> >
> > (For what it's worth, the first time I saw "barroom brawl" - in a James
> > Thurber story - I interpreted "barroom" as a sound effect.)
> >
> >
> A few hundred Google hits for "ballroom brawl". It appears to be the
> name of a (professional?) boxing event, too.
> Chris Waigl
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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