May 24th, 2014

Clogging: then and now

Clogging fifty years ago (hat tip: “cornei”), from some baby boomers:

And here’s a much more recent manifestation. There are some interesting stylistic changes—and of course, this is more formal and regimented, perhaps because it’s a competition:

What do the two videos express about the changes in America? I bet you can still see scenes like the first one today, somewhere. But you didn’t see scenes like the second one fifty years ago.

Or maybe you did, and I just missed it. I can’t say my finger was on the pulse of clog dancing at the time.

17 Responses to “Clogging: then and now”

  1. OldTexan Says:

    The older clip is about the same style that my wife and I saw performed at a business event eight years ago at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville N.C. There was an extend family group that did an hour of incredible clog dancing that was rather loud but lots of fun to watch. I appears that in the older style the upper body does not move too much and the clogs keep the syncopated beat going all of the time.

    As for the second clip that do not look too different from any Girls Drill Team in Texas. I too was kind of fun to watch but I would not call it clog dancing.

    By the way the home grown music on the fifty year old clip and the duelling Opies was great.

  2. NCC Says:

    How does the clogging in the more recent video differ from mass tap dancing?

    I’m not being flippant. I just want to know what the distinction is.

  3. vanderleun Says:

    Them is shore sum hi=steppin’ belles!

  4. Tonawanda Says:

    The first clip was lovely and moving. The camera man did a wonderful job capturing so much of what was going on.

    It sparked a thought about the part of Kundera’s book The Joke which dealt with one character’s involvement with the folk movement, it’s historic roots and its diminishment before his very eyes.

    It also sparked a thought of Michael Flatley and the entire (ancient) Irish dancing phenomenon which is still a mainstay of Irish communities in places like Boston and Buffalo.

    We live in a radically different society from 50 years ago.

  5. kaba Says:

    Whew, I got tired just watching. You’d need to be in good physical condition to do either style for an extended period of time.

  6. Former Marine's Mom Says:

    The hubby and I took up clogging over thirty years ago in California, attending classes by the late, great, Lucy Johnson. I love the traditional clogging, but the new style has way too many modern tap-dancing and other stylistic adulterations for my taste. I tried tap-dancing once and couldn’t quite get the hang of it like I could clogging. We used to have so much fun, with our babies on the sidelines with a baby-sitter or their Nana. I miss it and probably won’t ever get to clog again because of leg injuries. Sniff.

  7. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    The older clip is so beautifully photographed! The sweet simplicity of it, the joy in those faces. Here’s a short clip where the cameraman — who turns out to be a documentary filmmaker of renown, but was only 23 when he shot this clip — speaks about how it happened.

    The dancing style in the older clip, with the calm faces and still bodies above the joyous lively feet, reminds me very much of Irish step dancing, which is very popular around here. The styles must have sprung from the same roots back in the misty British isles somewhere, sometime.

  8. SteveH Says:

    I would just note how culture in America used to come out of the folk just being their spontaneous selves. Now it seems more directed by a few elites in media on a mission to impose an “acceptable” culture on the folk.

  9. chuck Says:

    I bet you can still see scenes like the first one today, somewhere.

    Don’t know about that. I recall visiting relatives back around that time and, after lunch, they all got together and sang hymns around the piano while my aunt played piano. She had sung in a gospel group and played wonderfully, with all the improvised figuration that is needed to bring the bare notes alive. Her husband played mandolin and had a local radio show where his dog would sometimes howl along with the music. My grandfather played fiddle, organ, and harmonica before his conversion. All this is to say that that branch of my family was generally in that culture, although their rather strict religion would not have allowed for the dancing. Today? That’s all pretty much gone. The countryside has been culturally and economically devastated. There are survivors, but the core seems to be dying. It’s like they lost a war.

  10. SteveH Says:

    “”The countryside has been culturally and economically devastated.””

    Well an awful lot of great American culture like bluegrass and clogging sprang out of economic devastation. The Delta Blues being another fine example. IMO those were people who had a fervent belief in a heavenly father and viewed their suffering as having an earthly purpose they couldn’t possibly understand, yet being merely a temporary condition.

  11. neo-neocon Says:

    I think part of what’s happened has been the ubiquity of TV, movies, and the internet as a leveling influence. People are exposed to mass culture, general culture, and the young lose some of their interest and immersion in specific regional cultures.

  12. chuck Says:

    Well an awful lot of great American culture like bluegrass and clogging sprang out of economic devastation.

    I don’t think so. Poor is not the same as economic devastation, especially when everyone is in the same position. It is interesting to compare to the Amish, who are moving onto some of the good farmland in Kansas. They live like most people lived 120 years ago, farming, crafts, etc., although the solar panels on some of the roofs and little kiosks by the road for telephone are different 😉 But the Amish culture, at least in some of the communities, is still vibrant. I think the difference is self sufficiency and separation from the general culture.

    Note that a big part of the economy in some of those areas was mining, and mining has shut down.

  13. SteveH Says:

    People can handle being poor economically. But it’s much more devastating if they’re also poor in spirit.

  14. Mike Says:

    The difference is the earlier one is boys and girls, men and women; the latter is all girls.

    America, frankly, has lost its marbles.

    Dancing is meant to be done solo; or as a male female event; or as a mixed group event.

    It is definitely not a single sex event; and it is not an athletic competition.

    I repeat. America has lost its marbles.

    Actually what I mean is, America has lost its soul. It has lost its own humanity. Sad.

    Can it ever get it back? Of course. Apres le deluge it will get it back. Too far gone now for anything less than that.

  15. Ymarsakar Says:

    I just wrote several articles on some bad stuff in America.

    It’s not good for morale, but if anyone was wondering what was going on over the weekend… well, there it is.

    Neo will probably wrote about this very soon or tomorrow perhaps. But, well, it’s an interesting incident.

    Just after I wrote about the Left’s mind control of women using the fear of rape as a trigger mechanism, even.

    Too far gone now for anything less than that.

    So in response to that, I think that’s more or less true by now. I mean, several factions in America are gearing up for violence, and they aren’t even communicating with each other nor are they upset about the same things.

  16. Richard Aubrey Says:

    youtube has a number of vids on sacred harp singing.
    One commenter remarked that he’d gone to a college choir concert at which they did some sacred harp singing and it fell flat. I guess you have to have believers.
    Some of it’s from Ireland and Poland, and other places outside of our South.
    The college choir experience might mean it can’t be spoiled or “improved” upon.
    Years ago, neo showed a dancer leaning with her leg up beyond 90 degrees to the torso, remarking it was not graceful, did not compliment the line and so forth. But in a competitive situation, if some is good, more is better, including, I suppose leg extension or whatever it’s called.
    Maybe sacred harp isn’t going to go that way.

  17. Dave Says:


    Thanks for the clogging. I particularly enjoyed the Southern Belles because it showed the footwork. My feet don’t move like that, not that they ever did.

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