boogaloo roots?

Oliver Wang oliverwang at EARTHLINK.NET
Tue Mar 27 07:09:22 UTC 2007

I'm currently doing research on the origins of the term "boogaloo"
and noted that this was a topic that briefly received mention on the
ADS-L listserv back in 2004:

 From what I have gathered so far, the following traces some of this history:

1) "boogaloo" is most likely a derivation of boogie-woogie (and thus,
a derivation of the West African "bogi" (dance).

Another etymologist suggested that there may also be a connection
between "boogaloo" and the Santeria saint Babalu-Aye though he
cautioned that link was more tenuous.

2) The earliest application of the term "boogaloo" seems to center on
boogie woogie pianist Abie "Boogaloo" Ames who, according to the
Washington Post's obit, received that nickname in the 1940s. By the
mid-1950s (as noted in the earlier ADS-L post), there was at least
uses of the term again within the musical world.

3) "Boogaloo" didn't emerge in a major way until the mid 1960s,
starting with Tom and Jerry-O's "Boo-Ga-Loo" from 1965 but there's
considerable confusion as to where they got the term from. From what
I've found, it's possible they took the name of their song from an
existing dance (rather than the other way around) which opens the
question of who invented the dance known as boogaloo.

If anyone has any information on uses of "boogaloo" that predates
Abie Ames, I would appreciate potential leads.


Oliver Wang
CSU-Long Beach

Assistant Professor
Dept of Sociology
CSU-Long Beach

The American Dialect Society -

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