[Ads-l] Participation Dance - the "Cokey Cokey" (February 1942), later "Hokey Pokey" (US and Australia) the "Hokey Cokey" (Britain)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Mar 9 21:43:54 UTC 2022

Well, according to the eponymous tombstone, it's "Hokey Pokey":



On Wed, Mar 9, 2022 at 4:36 PM Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:

> The wedding dance known in the US as the “Hokey Pokey” has been known
> primarily as the “Hokey Cokey” in Britain since the dance and song, by that
> name, were introduced in 1942.  There are apparently frequent arguments
> about which is “right” when people find out a different term is used in a
> different place.  In only just learned about the difference in the last
> week or two while researching earlier uses of “Hokey Pokey.”
> The instructions to put one’s hands, legs, and other things in and then
> out are at least a century older, but not by that name, and without “that’s
> what it’s all about.”   But the song and dance by those names, and with
> “that’s what it’s all about,” date to 1942.  But neither one of those names
> are the original name.
> In the copyright filing for the song in February 1942, the song was called
> the “Cokey Cokey.”
> “Cokey cokey; w & m Jimmy Kennedy. © Feb. 6, 1942; E for. 66528: Kennedy
> music co., ltd., London. 10200.”
> United States Copyright Office, Catalog of Copyright Entries (pt. III,
> n.s., v. 37), 1942.
> Presumably, the change was influenced by familiarity with “Hokey Pokey,”
> then known most as a frozen ice cream-like treat sold by street vendors.  I
> guess “Hokey Cokey” was adopted in England where they were closer to the
> original “Cokey Cokey,” and “Hokey Pokey” in the US for some reason.
> “Hokey Pokey” appeared in print in Scotland and England by September and
> October of that year.
> “Hokey Cokey” appeared in England by late-October 1942.
> When introduced in the United States in the spring of 1943, it was only
> referred to as the “Hokey Pokey,” and remained so as it spread through USO
> shows dances and shows across the country.
> Interestingly, and perhaps unrelated (but you never know) “Cokey” at that
> time was slang for a cocaine addict.  Is that why the words were used for a
> song with a lot of action, shaking and moving around?
> I posted an article about it on my blog today.
> https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2022/03/hokey-pokey-or-hokey-cokey-wrong-its.html
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> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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