Waltz the Hall: The American Play Party

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Overview

What did young people do for diversion and socialization in communities that banned most dancing and considered the fiddle to be the devil's instrument? The American play party was the fundamentalist's answer. Here the singing was a cappella, the dancers followed prescribed steps, and arm and elbow swings would be the only touching.

The play party was a popular form of American folk entertainment that included songs, dances, and sometimes games. Though based upon European and English antecedents, play parties were truly an American phenomenon, first mentioned in print in 1837. The last play parties were performed in the 1950s. Though documented in rural and frontier areas throughout the United States, they seem to have been most popular and lasted the longest in the rural South and Midwest. "Skip to My Lou" and "Pig in a Parlor" are still sung today but without the movements and games.

This is the first book since the 1930s to study this important and little-remembered phenomenon of American folk culture. The author interviewed a large number of Americans, both black and white, who performed play parties as young adults. Many of our parents and grandparents experienced these events, which harken back to a time when people created their own forms of entertainment. Today play parties are an important source of song and movement material for elementary-school-age children. A songbook of ninety musical examples and lyrics completes the picture of this vanished tradition.

Alan L. Spurgeon, Oxford, Mississippi, is associate professor of music at the University of Mississippi. He is the editor of Pig in the Parlor and Twenty Other Authentic Play Parties, and his work has appeared in several music-related periodicals.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578067428
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
  • Publication date: 2/11/2005
  • Series: American Made Music Series
  • Pages: 238
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Pt. 1 The American play party 3
An overview of the traditional play party gathering 11
Play parties in the African American community 23
The play party songs and their movements 28
The prohibition against dancing 35
Origins of the play party 47
Previous research on play parties 52
The demise of the play party 57
Pt. 2 The songs 63
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2012

    Wow meow super freak

    ?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2012

    Song Three

    Song 3: "Wow wow wow wow, meow meow meow! Cant touch this! Wow wow wow wow, meow meow meow! Super freak! Super freak! She's super freaky! Super freak! Super freak! She's super freaky!" What are these lyrics from?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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