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Josefine Baker

Josefine Baker

Charleston originated in Charlestown, South Carolina (USA) and became popular in various negro-musicals: 1921 `Shuffle along’, 1922 `Liza’ and 1923 the spectacular revue `Running Wild’. There goes the rumour that the impressario of New York Colonial Theatre was sent to Harlem, where he engaged three little boys who did the Charleston on the street and put them on stage.

When Josephine Baker 1925 toured through Europa she also made a stop in Berlin and something happened nobody had ever thought of: With her impressive dancing and her little banana skirt she arose a Charleston dance craze. Charleston became the dance of what nowadays is known as the Golden or Roaring Twenties. In the streets, at home, in the ballrooms, everywhere you could see people who eagerly try to move like their black idol. X- and O-legs and very sharp machine like rhytmn – that hit time’s beat – whit its suggestive movements, escpecially English dance teachers “smoothed” the Charleston and changed into a slightly boring couple dance. The only remaining figure were the “windscreen wiper feet”. Black Bottom contained all the suggestive elements Charleston had lost. But its birth in 1926/1927 was its death at the same time.

(Author: Sabine Schroetter from