January 2nd, 2013

Could you do the mashed potato?

In my recent stroll down the memory lane of Dance Crazes of My Youth, I came across this one, known as the Mashed Potato.

Which started a long time ago.

I never could do this particular dance. Maybe the problem was the turned-in stance; as a ballet dancer, that posture was especially hard for me. And looking at it again, it still seems really difficult:

Dances were awfully bouncy back then, weren’t they?

30 Responses to “Could you do the mashed potato?”

  1. Roman Says:

    I was never any kind of dancer, even in my youth. Now, I tell people: if you see me dancing, take my keys. I’m in no shape to drive.

  2. Surellin Says:

    Heh, I went awhile back to the newly-refurbished Center of Science and Industry. Among the refurbishments , the Street of Yesteryear now extended into the mid 60s (wow, I’ve become historical). The poor volunteer guide was trying to show the children how a hula-hoop worked, but was making a hash of it. But I still had it!

  3. parker Says:

    Popular dances come and went at a furious pace in the 1950-60s. And, yes they were generally bouncy.

  4. Mr. Frank Says:

    Bouncy is good.

  5. vanderleun Says:

    I couldn’t do it but I could watch it for hours.

  6. Artfldgr Says:

    I used to do the lindy hop…. fast swing w aerials

    Loads of fun asci learned as a child from three different generations….. so when swing came back i was ready freddi….

    Mashed potato, twist, alligator, the frump, and lots….

    But swing wednesdays top of the world restaurant world trade center was grandest….. as was lincoln center around the fountain…

    Todays kids cant dance it… too out of shape
    My generation could barely do it

    Forget those media made up dancers….
    And watch swing… as fun to watch as it is to dance
    If u can.


    And 1941

    It spans the early century… the big band era… rock n roll… from tommy dorsey and benny goodman to the andrew sisters…. to the stray cats….

    8 to the bar!!!

    Its also the dance that fought against nazism n socialism..

    The Swing Kids (also known as Swing Youth) (German: Swingjugend) were a group of jazz and swing lovers in Germany in the 1930s, mainly in Hamburg (St. Pauli) and Berlin. They were composed of 14- to 18-year-old boys and girls in high school, most of them middle- or upper-class students, but some apprentice workers as well. [1] They sought the British and American way of life, defining themselves in swing music and opposing the National-Socialist ideology, especially the Hitlerjugend (“Hitler Youth”).

    I would suggest reading the real history…. 🙂

  7. CharlieSays Says:

    In my opinion, Dee Dee Sharp is one of the greatest, under appreciated R&B singers Philadelphia ever produced. Listen to her cover of “Ooh Child” and see if you agree:


  8. Artfldgr Says:

    After wwii japan had its swing and bobbysock copy period before they fell down a psychelic sex tartv cartoon fetish world….

  9. CharlieSays Says:

    Art, I was stationed in Japan in the 80s, and there were kids still doing swing and bobbysock then. We’d travel up from Yokosuka to Tokyo to watch them dance in the parks. They were quite good.

  10. csimon Says:

    I was much better at “The Pony” and, of course, everyone knew how to do “The Swim,” and then there was “The Skate.”

    I was in elementary school at the time, and every Friday in Phys. Ed. the girls had dance day where the coach brought out an old recordplayer, we’d bring records. And every Friday, one boy would dance with us: Bobby Harris. So cute, fabulous eyes with longest lashes! And the best dancer of all of us! White, Jewish (as were we all) — but did he have rhythm!!!

  11. rickl Says:

    Now I’m hungry.

    Those who have been reading for awhile know that I’ve only gotten into cooking fairly recently. I learned how to make mashed potatoes from scratch just in the last six months or so, and they’re pretty good, if I do say so myself.

    Oh wait, this isn’t a cooking thread?

  12. Gringo Says:

    CharlieSays is not the only Dee Dee Sharp fan among the commenters at this blog. Consider Dee Dee’s rendition of I Will Follow Him, which I see as superior to the original sung by Little Peggy March.

  13. James Says:


  14. Capn Rusty Says:

    I’ve taken to referring to the music of the 60’s as “back when black guys sang love songs.”

  15. Hangtown Bob Says:

    “Dances were awfully bouncy back then, weren’t they? ”

    One of the more pleasant advantages of the “Burn your bra” movement!!

  16. LAG Says:

    I say, to do the potato, be the potato. Now, I hear dinner calling. Fun to watch, though.

  17. Sam L. Says:

    I recall some song. likely by Ray Stevens, with a line about somebody doing something and stopping to do a little Mashed Potato

  18. SukieTawdry Says:

    Not only could I mash the potato, I could put gravy on it.

  19. Former Marine's Mom Says:

    It looks like a cross between the Charleston and clogging, both of which are very bouncy and fun to dance.
    And Swing Kids is a great movie if you’ve never seen it.

  20. Mn Jack Says:

    Sam, are you sure that wasn’t the twist as in “let’s twist again like we did last summer baby”?

  21. Smock Puppet, 10th Dan Snark Master and Random Dance Enthusiast Says:

    }}} I couldn’t do it but I could watch it for hours.

    Methinks you could watch GIRLS doing it for hours.


  22. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

    I would note the following:

    1) They’re all dancing differently. I presume the blonde closest to the singer is doing the main/best example of The Mashed Potato?

    2) I find it singularly amusing that the singer is NOT dancing the dance. At least not as the camera shows.

  23. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

    Ms. Sharp certainly has a wonderful voice, but there’s never gonna be a better version of
    Ooh Child than this one


  24. Jim Miller Says:

    What I noticed is that the dancers don’t have — or need — partners.

    So I guess it is intended as a performance by girls for boys.

    Which, as a rather elderly boy, I can say is not a bad thing, but not even close to dances where a couple interacts.

  25. Smock Puppet, 10th Dan Snark Master and Random Dance Enthusiast Says:

    }}} I’ve taken to referring to the music of the 60′s as “back when black guys sang love songs.”

    They still sing love songs. It’s just all about how they love to degrade women.

  26. parker Says:


    Meanwhile “the girls walk by dressed up for each other as the boys do the boggie-woogie on the corner of the street.”

  27. neo-neocon Says:

    IGotBupkis: I agree that the blond closest to Dee Dee Sharp is head and shoulders (and feet) above the others in her mashed potato technique.

  28. Gary Rosen Says:

    Great record, but very derivative of the Marvelettes’ “Please Mr. Postman” which came out a few months earlier. Even at that early date everyone was trying to capture the Motown sound.

  29. CGHill Says:

    For “derivative,” read “so close as to be actionable.” There was action. (Nobody bothered Bobby Pickett about the Monster Mash, though.)

    Sharp’s followup, incidentally, was called “Gravy.” Because woman does not live by potatoes alone.

  30. Gary Rosen Says:

    I didn’t know there was a lawsuit on it! A few years ago I used to visit a website “Soulful Detroit” which as you can imagine is about nostalgia for Motown and other popular R&B of the ’60s and ’70s. A fair number of people directly involved in that scene were regular commenters there. One was a longtime Philly session guitarist who acknowledged that “Mashed Potato Time” was a conscious attempt to copy “Please Mr. Postman”.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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