Folk Dance
Game

Cakewalks

“I learned this probably when I was about ten, in Florida, from other kids. There’s this thing called a cakewalk. I’ve only seen it in the south, never ever heard about it here [in California]. Basically, usually within religious functions, you would go to an event and they would have cake. And they would play music, and you would literally just walk around and they turn off the music and there are chairs. It’s like musical chairs. So you sit down as fast as you can, and whatever number you sit on on the chair, you got the cake. I don’t understand it at all—you’re getting free cake for doing nothing. I first saw it when I was like ten, first at a 4H function, and later at a church function. And it’s like everywhere in the South, but only there.”


 

Analysis:
I have heard of the cakewalk, despite never having lived in the South. Upon doing further research into this game, this game has very deep roots into American culture. It was first performed by slaves, pre-Civil War, and these dances were judged by the plantation owners. The winners of the dance would receive a cake. Now when we use the term “cakewalk,” referring to a task, we mean it to be something that is easy to accomplish. But winning these cakewalks were very hard—the idea they were easy came across because of how skilled the dancers were.

NPR covers the background of cakewalks in the following article: https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/12/23/256566647/the-extraordinary-story-of-why-a-cakewalk-wasnt-always-easy

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