[Ads-l] Kouta Kouta, Coochie-Coochie and Hoochie Coochie

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 6 22:32:11 UTC 2016

The citation below is employed dialectical spelling. It referred to a
"coochy-coo dance" which seems to have elicited a diamond ring as a

Date December 11, 1894
Newspaper: The Philadelphia Times
Newspaper Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Article: Pipe Stories (From the Buffalo Express)
Quote Page 8
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
All de actor ladies and actor blokies had wine
ter drink till dey couldn't see, an' I
trun a di'mun big as a bushel basket on de
stoige to de dame what done de coochy-coo
dance. As fer me, I was covered wid
sparks bigger dan dose in Ed Higgins'
di'mun cross.
[End excerpt]


On Wed, Jul 6, 2016 at 6:03 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> Here is an instance of "Hoochie coochie" referring to a taboo dance in
> a North Carolina newspaper on Nov 14, 1895.
> Newspaper: The Washington Gazette
> Newspaper Location: Washington, North Carolina
> Date: November 14, 1895
> Quote Page 2, Column 2
> Database: Newspapers.com
> [Begin excerpt]
> This dance shows strange skill
> in the manipulation of all the
> muscles of the body, but its description
> does not come within the bounds of
> propriety. It is a credit to the managers
> of our North Carolina Fair
> that the Hoochie coochie was stopped,
> and I understand the Georgia
> legislature has passed a law against it,
> to take effect alter the fair.
> [End excerpt]
> Here is an instance of "hoochie-coochie-coochie" as an example of a
> term of endearment or pet-name on Jun 26 1886.
> Date: June 26, 1886
> Newspaper: The Daily Democrat
> Newspaper Location: Huntington, Indiana
> Quote Page 3
> Database: Newspapers.com
> [Begin excerpt]
> When women go into business they
> ought, for sake of common sense, to
> drop the diminutives of their Christian
> names. How foolish "Dr. Nellie Carter"
> looks, for instance, or "Kittle
> Stout, the lawyer," or "Mamie Jones,
> the grocer." Think of "Susie B.
> Anthony," or "Bessie Cady Stanton," or
> "Tillie Fletcher," or, as some wit has
> it, "Mamie Magdalene," "Johnnie the
> Baptist," and "Becky at the well." It's
> simply silly. Women are not all bird-like
> and blithesome, and do not all go
> a-tripping gaily. They don't all lisp,
> and not all of them are pets and
> addressed as "hoochie-coochie-coochie."
> A majority of them have too much sense
> to be particularly fond of the same terms
> same terms of endearment applied to
> canary birds and puppy-dogs.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson
> On Wed, Jul 6, 2016 at 1:03 PM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
>> There was a discussion about hoochie-coochie here in 2005 in which Douglas Wilson and Ben Zimmer provided numerous citations to the expression "kouta-kouta" or "koota-kouta".
>> Douglas Wilson
>> wondered whether it was from Bengali, Turkish or Arabic; or whether it
>> was modeled on Hula-Hula; and Ben Zimmer speculated that it could have
>> been a made up exotic sounding word, and that it may have been a
>> precursor to coochie-coochie and hoochie-coochie that came later.
>> I did a bunch of looking into hoochie-coochie a couple years ago and put it on the back burner, because, although some of the stories were interesting, I didn't have much to say about how it transitioned from kouta to coochie to hoochie that hadn't been said before.  I knew that "kouta-kouta" was first, and was sure that it was a precursor to coochie-coochie and hoochie-coochie; and that the transition may have been influenced by earlier songs with kutchy-kutchy and hoochie, coochie coochie in the lyrics.
>> But recently, Ben Zimmer made some comment about rhyming reduplication words starting with "H", like Heebie Jeebies; and that gave me the impetus to go back to "hoochie-coochie," because I could at least tie the transition to hoochie-coochie into that linguistic template; similar to words like hurdy-gurdy, hula-hula, and honky-tonk that were all "h"-words related to dances or dance halls.  I also found a couple more interesting facts.
>> I've found a specific connection to the Kannada or Canarese language of Southern India.
>> I traced "kouta-kouta" to a dancer named "Vita" or "Avita" who introduced the dance in a play called, "Elysium" that debuted in New York City in May 1892.  Douglas Wilson provided a reference referring to that play:
>>>_Chicago Daily [Tribune]_, 22 May 1892: p. 30:
>>><<A humorous feature of the production of "Elysium" was the
>>>widely-advertised dance of a woman whose name I have forgotten, but who, it
>>>was gravely asserted, had been famous in India for several years. .... She
>>>performed what was known as the "Koota-Koota" dance. This is a series of
>>>postures of such a nature that even in Calcutta the dance was considered
>>>infamous.>>The earliest reference to that play and dance I could find was a few days earlier:
>> A novelty in dancing, it is announced, will be seen in "Elysium" at Herrmann's Theatre next week.  It is called the "Koota-Koota," whatever that may mean, and is danced by Avita, an English character actress [(she was actually an American from San Francisco)], who is said to have performed it before the Rajah during her visit to the East Indies. Isn't that real nice?
>> The Evening World (New York), May 13, 1892, page 5.
>> Other newspapers made similar claims that Vita had learned the dance in India, but it was very vague; and sounded more like press-agent puffery than actual biography.
>> But Vita gave an interview to a magazine in London in 1894, when she brought the "kouta-kouta" dance to England.  In the interview, she says that she learned the dance in India while touring with the Stanley Opera Company:
>> The "Kouta-Kouta" Dancer. . . . "I [Vita] learnt it in India when I was with the Stanley Opera Company.  The favourite dancing girl of one of the Rajahs taught me all about it, and when I danced it in the Chicago Exhibition you cannot imagine what a furore it caused.  In England I am sure it will excite just as great interest. Don't you think so?"
>> Today (London, Volume 1, January 20, 1894, page 21.
>> Contemporary British newspapers confirm that a "Stanley Opera Company" was active in India and the Far-East during the 1880s and 1890s. (free snip cites available at britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
>> A Canarese-English dictionary published in 1858 lists the word, "kouta," as meaning "a quick kind of dance."  The word Kuta (sometimes spelled Koota - spelled with a different vowel in Canarese characters) now means a social club, a horoscope for arranging marriages, or sexual intercourse; but I do not know if the two words are related.
>> Vita's kouta-kouta dance appears in print several times during the year before the Chicago World's Fair.  The expression "kouta-kouta" also pops up shortly after the fair, in reference to dancers who claimed to have danced in Chicago.  But I could only find one reference to something like "kouta-kouta" during the run of the fair.  It is in an advertisement for an X-ray machine to be used to make money at the fair - the ad claims that the machine is "a thousand miles ahead of the Kota dance" and that you "can give a hot speil on it." The New York Clipper, September 12, 1893, page 449.
>> (This may also be an antedating of "spiel".)
>> All of the other references I've seen with dates during the fair call it danse du ventre, mussel dance (as in musselman - a muslim; but sometimes spelled muscle dance), or Midway dance.
>> The earliest coochie-coochie I found was in September 1894, nearly one year after the fair closed. I'm not sure whether this is an ante-dating or not:
>> Vice and Vulgarity at a Fair. Unworthy Features of the Somerset County Agricultural Show. Somerville, N. J., Sept. 13 (Special). - "Come, gents, walk right up and see the 'Couchee-Couchee Dance.' For gents only, remember, no laides allowed."
>> New York Tribune, September 14, 1894.
>> The earliest hoochie-coochie I could find is a Cornell yearbook that appears to have been published before the Winter Term of 1896 (which started in January), but is undated.  The song, "When I Do the Hoochy Koochy in the Sky" bears a copyright date of 1896.
>> I have posted Part I of two planned parts on my blog:
>> http://esnpc.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-kouta-kouta-and-coochie-coochie.html
>> Peter Reitan
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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