Surely, Mr. Ma, you’re jookin!

Let us pause and admire the angular unexpected beauty of that dance!

Wikipedia offers synonyms and an improbable history: “Gangsta Walking (often referred to as G-Walk , Buckin, Buck Jump , Jookin, or Choppin) is a street dance that originated in Memphis, Tennessee alongside “Buck” music during the 1990s.”  The Urban Dictionary points to similar origins. (I hope I’ve mentioned that the UD is not for the tender and timorous!)

Why be skeptical?  Because buck dancing (as a phrase;  what it describes now is likely different than what it used to describe) and “jook” or “juke” as in “juke joints” goes back to at least to the 1920’s.

The Dictionary of American Regional English rolls back the decades.  One of the meanings for “jook” is a roadhouse;  another is a “jukebox; rarely a player piano, esp FL, GA

1935 Hurston Mules & Men 185 nFL [Black] The jook was in full play when we walked in.  The piano was throbbing like a stringed drum and the couples slow-dragging about the floor were urging the player to new lows. “Jook, Johnnie, Ah know you kin spank date ole pe-anner.” “Jook it Johnnie!” [Footnote;] Play the piano in the manner of the jook or “blues.”

For jook as a verb, DARE offers

1. To play music in the style typical of a jook

2. To dance, esp at a jook; to make the rounds (of jooks)

So, jookin as a word may have been born at night, but it wasn’t born last night!

(As for buck dancing, we’ll try to get to “buck” soon.)

h/t to


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