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Dance Craze: The Jitterbug

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The word's roots go back to the early 20th century slang for alcoholics who suffered from tremors - but the "jitterbug" truly caught hold when bandleader Cab Calloway starred in the short film "Cab Calloway's Jitterbug Party" in 1935. Since then, the term has been associated with dances like Lindy Hop and swing - and even developed into its own dance craze. Today, we look back at the acrobatic moves of the 1930s and ‘40s with Chris Calloway Brooks - grandson of Cab Calloway and leader of the modern-day Cab Calloway Orchestra.

Check out Cab Calloway's 1935 short film, "Cab Calloway's Jitterbug Party" below. 


Chris Calloway Brooks

Comments [6]

Barry Tobin from Long Island

David's recipe is correct for a Jitterbug cocktail. But Cab Calloway's song refers to the drink as a Jittersauce. A recipe for that is:
Fill a cocktail halfway with ice. Add 2oz of blended Scotch whiskey and 3 oz gin. Stir well.
Strain into two flute glasses. Top off with chilled Brut sparkeling wine.

May. 01 2012 10:49 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I was lucky enough to see Cab Calloway on a double bill with Count Basie in the 1980s at BAM. The Count led his band in the 1st half, & Cab came on with them after the intermission. I think he was 82 then, & he led off with the most upbeat, uptempo version of, believe it or not, "September Song" I've ever heard, so fast the band--*Basie's* band--had trouble keeping up with him!

May. 01 2012 02:21 PM
Ruth from Manhattan

"The Jitterbug" is a number from the original stage production of "The Wizard of Oz" - which came first?

May. 01 2012 02:17 PM
david from working in midtown

jitterbug drink recipe

club soda
2oz gin
3 dashes grenedine
1 finger roses lime
1 oz vodka
3 dashes sugar syrup
pinch sugar

May. 01 2012 02:14 PM

minnie the moocher was co-written by Staten Island resident Clarence Gatskill, just fyi.

May. 01 2012 02:14 PM
Robots Need to Party from NYC

Is this where New York's despotic Cabaret laws got their start?

I've heard that in the books our Cabaret laws describe unacceptable dancing as dance moves that have the feet leaving the floor for a specific duration of time. Which would seem to be a way to legally crack down on swing dancing. Which would have the added effect of prohibiting races mixing.

May. 01 2012 02:12 PM

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