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What's a Cakewalk?
Historic Dance, Children's Game, and More...
When I was growing up, sometimes at community events there would be a cakewalk. It was sort of like musical chairs with everyone going around a circle while the music played. When the music stopped, someone would win a cake. That was forty years ago, so my memory of the exact details is vague.
Actually the word "cakewalk" has many meanings. I was surprised to find the cakewalk had such a rich history tracing back to slavery in the American South.
I hear the term "cakewalk" used now to mean that something was really easy to accomplish. "That race was a real cakewalk for Oliver." I was curious about the origin of this word, and started exploring. I started with the Merriam-Webster Online for the exact definitions for cakewalk. These are shown in the red boxes below.
South Carolina Tickle by SusieButlerBerkley
First Definition of Cakewalk
a black American entertainment having a cake as prize for the most accomplished steps and figures in walking
Sheet Music for a Cakewalk
From the style of the dresses, I'd place this in 1910 to 1920. Actually Black Americana such as this is highly collectible. The histories of this dance say it died out in the 1920s, but traces of it showed up in later dances such as the Lindy Hop.
Zazzle poster made from an old sheet music of a Cake Walk:
Keep Moving Cake Walk by SusieButlerBerkley
History of the Cakewalk Dance - provided by StreetSwing
- Cakewalk Dance - Dance History archives (click here to see the whole article)
The Chalk Line Walk as it was originally known became popular around 1850 in the Southern plantations. It originated in Florida by the African-American slaves who got the basic idea from the Seminole Indians (couples walking solemnly). Many of the sp
Video of Early Film Showing the Cakewalk
They are even doing the cakewalk at the beach.
Books on Collecting Black Americana
Whether you collect specific areas of Black Americana like kitchenwares or tobacco advertising, you'll find it all here. It includes fine art, political memorabilia, music and much more.
Another Early Film Showing the Cakewalk
Many people collect historical items from Black history and also examples of early stereotypes.
The History of Black Dances in America - available from Amazon
Learn more about the cakewalk and other styles and trends in black dance with these books.
Great Links for the Cakewalk
- StreetSwing's Cakewalk Title Music List - Main
Streetswings Cakewalk Music Lists shows song titles with the term Cakewalk, Cakewalkin', Cakewalker, Walkaround, Chalk-Line Walk etc.
- Basinstreet.com - Your Online Source for Historical Jazz
In 1899 we find that the cakewalk was one of the most popular styles of popular American music. This style became ragtime, beginning around 1899 and gained in popularity by 1902.
Second Definition - Cakewalk
a stage dance developed from walking steps and figures typically involving a high prance with backward tilt
Print of the Cake Walk
Art Print of the Cake-Walk
A Class Teaching the Cakewalk
The music is so joyful and the dancers are having so much fun. I like to watch this one over and over.
Just think, this dance style is over 150 years old and you can take lessons to learn the style.
Black Sheet Music on eBay - GOOD LUCK on your bidding!
These can have great graphics on the cover and can be framed to use as wall art.
Books about the Minstrel Show - available from Amazon
For most people, the words "minstrel show" brings up the mental image of Al Jolsen singing "Mammy." There's a lot more to know about this uniquely American stage preformances. Check out the history with the book and DVD shown here.
A History of the Minstrel Show
Third Definition of Cakewalk
a one-sided contest or an easy task
"Some thought the Red Sox would easily win their division, but it was no cakewalk."
The Definition Missing from the Dictionary
A children's party game or a fundraiser similar to musical chairs with a cake as the prize.
Holding a Cakewalk Game or Fundraiser - at a festival, carnival or party
Here are variations of this game or contest as it is now played as a children's game. It can be a fundraiser too with participants paying for the chance to win a cake.
- How to Play a Cake Walk Game | eHow
This is an fun game to play at school carnivals, church picnics or school fundraisers. It involves pastries and cakes. Need I say more?
- Food & Drink - How To Information | eHow
How to Do a Cake Walk. If you have never done a cake walk you don't know what you're missing. It's a really fun activity to do as a fundraiser or at family reunions, holiday parties, and birthdays. Kids really love...
Visitors Come from Many Places to Learn about the Cakewalk
Counter added on June 14, 2012
© 2010 Virginia Allain