Let Them Eat Cake: The History of Cakewalks

The main components of Ragtime were the practices of composing and playing a popular song, dance and instrumental music. sheet music was created to document the notes, usually for piano. 

This new genre of music was more upbeat and syncopated than what society had been used to with Jubilee Quartets.

Folks were beginning to dance more, and slave masters formed these new slave dances, one very famous one was the “cake walk”.

Cakewalks were dances that parodied and made fun of White upperclass behaviors. It would be performed on stages by slaves and slave masters had no idea they were being mocked.

The best performance would receive a prize, which was normally a cake (hence the name). Some elements of cakewalks were dignified walking, bowing very low, lifting noses high in the air, and waving canes.

After an exhibition at 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and a competition at Madison Square Garden, cakewalks began to become mass productions and grew to become of the most popular dances on the vaudeville stage and in ballrooms in both the United States and Europe.

Kaela Lawrence

Kaela Lawrence

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