boogaloo roots?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 28 02:38:27 UTC 2007

"... Who invented the dance known as boogaloo"!! You can not be
serious. There's no way to know who "invented" a popular dance step.
It's a miracle if you're lucky enough to be able to discover the name
of the person who merely introduced the dance to a particular group.
Sometimes, a single dance will have more than one name, cf., e.g. the
"slop" and the "scotch"; the "Temptation walk" is also known as the
"Wilson Pickett." Two dances may be only trivially distinct, yet have
totally different names. The "hunch" is distinct from the "four
corners" only to the extent that, in performing the first, the dancer
moves front and back, whereas, in performing the second, the dancer
moves left and right. The inspiration for the song, "The Land of a
Thousand Dances," doesn't come from nowhere.


On 3/27/07, Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
> Subject:      Re: boogaloo roots?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > From what I have gathered so far, the following traces some of this history:
> >
> >1) "boogaloo" is most likely a derivation of boogie-woogie
> I don't know that this is substantiated (but I haven't looked into it).
> Maybe it's from "boogie" + "loup-garou" for all I know.
> >(and thus,
> >a derivation of the West African "bogi" (dance).
> I haven't seen any evidence in favor of this speculation (but I haven't
> searched very hard either).
> >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.
> Any evidence? There are lots of etymology stories around, most of them
> false (of course).
> >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.
> Here's an early instance ... not very enlightening etymologically though.
> ----------
> _Lethbridge [Alberta] Herald_, 30 Oct. 1939: p. 4:
> [quoted from "Time Magazine": letter from Darien GA]
> <<I like the explanation of this war given by "Boogaloo" a happy-go-lucky
> Negro as he talked with my husband.>>
> [remainder is about the war]
> ----------
> -- Doug Wilson
> --
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