Friday, February 26, 2010

"Cake Walk"

(A response from Bodmin one of our overseas editorialists to my "Hot Seat" post a few entires down.)

God damn, man, you wanna give old Bodmin a heart attack? Those shades, that presence, those smooooth brown thighs...You gotta put up 'pretty boy' warnings when you do something like that!

Speaking of sexy boys and Black History Month.

*****Pardon my intrusion a moment here Bodmin.

(Yeah, swell Black History Month! They toss us this damned bone in the shortest coldest month. As C.S. Lewis called this time of year, "...always winter, and never Christmas."

Try having a Bar-B-Q or fireworks in the middle of a blizzard or hail storm. Oh did I forget to say thanks?

Bleeping Thanks.)

Sorry Comrade,..couldn't help it.

******We continue now with dear Bodmin's response to "Hot Seat"

"Speaking of sexy boys and Black History Month."

Some history to go with them:
We don't know who he is (or her, for that matter), but they were the leads in the troop called Les Enfants Nègres, who performed the Cake Walk at the Nouveau Cirque in Paris during the 1905 season.

They were popular enough that S.I.P., the Paris theatrical publisher, who did postcard series of theatrical stars (particularly actresses) and opera singers, did a ten-card set of them (two of her, two of him, and six of them together, doing moves that run from the traditional Cake Walk (here) to things that look like the jitterbug).

While we don't know anything about this particular troop we do know that these "pickaninny troops" were touring Europe from about 1890 to the beginning of the First World War, generally organised in New Orleans, often of orphans.

One of the more famous was "Belle Davis's Piccaninnies", Belle being a Creole woman who had been a music hall performer herself. For instance, she is credited with beginning the career of the ragtime/jazz/big band pianist "Sneeze" Williams, at the age of nine, in 1895.

(On the other hand, there seem to have been some tragic stories of how the 'entrepreneurs' just abandoned the kids in Europe and returned to the States with their money...)

All of which brings us to the question: IS THIS RACIST????????????
You can find plenty of sites denouncing the Cake Walk as stereotyping Blacks as happy darkies with rhythm and loose bodies.

You can also find sites which explain that the Cake Walk was originally Blacks poking fun at the cotillion in the Big House; Massa was too dumb to realise the joke was on him, and joined in.

And as far as the 'strutting' goes: you know Michael Jackson got his moves (particularly the moonwalk) from Charlie Chaplin - and if you look closely at the film footage you realise that Charlie Chaplin got his moves from these guys. Could be this is the beginning of the Black influence on American culture...

So, I dunno... What I do know is that this little guy in his white tights is damn sexy for his plus/minus115 years, and knows it. (So did whoever his dresser was; note the highlight on the bulge at his crotch...)


  1. A gal pal, and I danced a "Cake Walk" at the radio station. We were inspired by your post, and the music on youtube.

    No it ain't racist,'s fun!

  2. Hi,

    I've put together several pages on this dance team. See the feature page and gallery index:

    They are siblings Rudy and Fredy Walker, both born in Chicago. The brother and sister dance team was known professionally as The Walkers but billed as Les Enfants Nègres at the Nouveau Cirque in 1903.

    Best fishes, doc