Translate

Friday, May 26, 2017

African Influences On American Square Dance, Part II - Information & Reviews Of Phil Jamison's Book "Hoedowns, Reels, & Frolics"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a two part pancocojams series on African American influences on American square dancing and American square dance music.

This post presents information about and reviews of Phil Jamison's book Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance. That book demonstrates the complex origins and evolution of Appalachian dance and provides information about its significant African American sources.

Part II also showcases five videos of American square dancing, with particular emphasis on "the bird in the cage" figure which Jamison indicates is one of many square dance figures (movements) that is likely of African American origin.

Click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/05/square-dance-caller-researcher-phil.html. Part I showcases a video of an interview with American square dance caller, dancer, researcher, and author Phil Jamison whose 2015 book Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance demonstrates the complex origins and evolution of Appalachian dance and provides information about its significant African American sources.

****
The content of this post is provided for historical, folkloric, and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the memories of early African American square dance musicians. Thanks to Phil Jamison for his research and writing about American square dancing. Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and all those who are featured in these embedded videos. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

****
SELECTED EXCERPTS OF ONLINE INFORMATION AND REVIEWS ABOUT PHIL JAMISON'S BOOK ABOUT AMERICAN SQUARE DANCING
Pancocojams Editor:
These excerpts are presented in no particular order and are numbered for referencing purposes only.

Excerpt #1
From https://www.cdss.org/images/newsletter_archives/articles/CDSS_News_fall_2015_review_hoedowns.pdf
by Tony Parkes is the author of Contra Dance Calling: A Basic Text, (Hands Four Productions, 2010)
..."Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics is a masterpiece of a book and a milestone in dance historiography. Phil Jamison has done what many would have thought impossible not so long ago: documented the development of dance forms whose history is chiefly oral. He has laid century-old myths to rest and produced persuasive evidence of the southern dance’s multicultural origins. And he has assembled his findings in a book that is both scholarly and readable.

Jamison is perhaps the ideal person for the task: he is at home in both academia (he teaches at Warren Wilson College) and the living world of traditional music and dance. He is a caller, a dance musician, and a percussive dancer; his long and varied experience includes thirty years of performing with the Green Grass Cloggers. His love of the dance has led him to seek and find hundreds of primary documents, most of which appear to have been overlooked until now (as he points out, when he began his research “there were no scholarly books devoted to Appalachian dance”). He has also attended dance events, conducted interviews, and catalogued and analyzed nearly a hundred commercial recordings of the 1920s and 1930s. The calls on these recordings were intended to entertain the listener and are not necessarily danceable, but they provide an important window into the southern dance tradition before square dancing began to be standardized.

Jamison’s most important conclusion is that the southern dance is not, as Cecil Sharp claimed to believe, an ancient English dance form preserved nearly intact for centuries due to the isolation of mountain settlements. Rather, it draws on Scottish, Irish, French, Native American, and African traditions as well as English. Dance historians since at least the 1960s have dismissed Sharp’s theory as the product of extreme Anglophilia (and racism), but Jamison has assembled enough evidence to convince anyone. He points out that Appalachia was never as isolated as romantic writers led their readers to believe; the region enjoyed considerable trade with the rest of the world, and its settlers belonged to many ethnic groups.

Perhaps the most fascinating revelation is that the practice of calling the figures, which sets American group dancing apart from its ancestors and its cognates elsewhere, is an African-American invention. From the earliest days of non-Native settlement through the nineteenth century, most dance musicians in what is now the United States were people of color. As early as 1819, there are written accounts of black musicians calling. Jamison theorizes that the practice originated in the West Indies, the first stop in the New World for many slaves, as references to calling appear nearly simultaneously in many areas.

The bulk of the book is devoted to what can conveniently be called “square dancing,” whether done in four-couple squares, large circles, or longways sets. There are also chapters on step dancing, couple dances, and the cakewalk, as well as on the relations between dance and religion.

Appendices include an analysis of the commercial recordings, a three-part glossary, copious notes and
twenty-four pages of bibliography. A companion website, http://www.philjamison.com/, contains audio files of the recordings, along with a generous selection of paintings, photographs and videos“...

****
Excerpt #2:
From https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/chasing-the-rabbit-in-dc/2016/01/21/efc338cc-b8ac-1
Chasing the rabbit in D.C. By Gabriel Popkin January 22, 2016
"Roughly one Saturday night each month, government lawyers, nonprofit leaders, computer programmers, activists and creative professionals gather by the hundreds in a church in the middle of the nation’s capital and perform dance moves with names such as “duck for the oyster,” “push pa, shove ma” and “chase the rabbit, chase the squirrel.” Then they swing and promenade their partners to live fiddle music and the instructions of a dance caller...

The dance form does admittedly have some unfortunate associations to overcome, and not just because of the Virginia reels that many of us were forced to perform in gym class. Folk dance can seem fusty and arcane, and its supposed purity has led to it being appropriated at times to promote retrograde, nativistic ideologies.

But important new scholarship should put such simplistic and erroneous ideas to rest for good. Dance caller and historian Phil Jamison from Asheville, N.C., argues convincingly in his 2015 book, “Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance,” that American square dance is not a colonial relic from the British Isles, but rather a uniquely American syncretism of European, African and Native American influences. Perhaps most surprising, Jamison found that having a dance caller prompting the steps — a practice that is integral to square dancing and numerous other “traditional” dance forms — was unheard of in Europe and seems to have its roots in the African call-and-response patterns that slaves brought to the New World.

Before calling became routine, you had to go to dance school to learn the dances. Calling made square dancing accessible to everyone, regardless of skill, experience or wealth — in other words, it made it a true folk dance. The District’s dancers, who come from all over the world and from all ages, ethnicities and walks of life, continue to benefit from this democratization today.”...

****
Excerpt #3:
From http://www.philjamison.com/hoedowns-reels-and-frolics/
Book summary:
"In Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics, old-time musician and flatfoot dancer Phil Jamison journeys into the past and surveys the present to tell the story behind the square dances, step dances, reels, and other forms of dance practiced in southern Appalachia. He argues that these distinctive folk dances are not the unaltered jigs and reels of the early British settlers, but hybrids that developed over time by adopting and incorporating elements from other popular forms. He traces the forms from their European, African American, and Native American roots to the modern day. From the Shoo-fly Swing to the Virginia Reel, Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics reinterprets an essential aspect of Appalachian culture.
-snip-
[Note that the cover of this book is a painting of Black musicians and Black dancers at a “frolic” (dance event)].

**
Review:
"The real complexity of American history is slowly, finally, being uncovered; Phil Jamison shines a beautifully well researched light on the birth of folk dance and music in these United States. He manages to dispel several well-worn myths in the process, and has Native and particularly African-American influences in their rightful place alongside the Anglo in the evolution of our indigenous folk traditions. The true history is far more interesting than the fantasy, and Jamison's thoughtful treatise will have you re-evaluating what you thought you knew about Square Dance--this ain't just a do-si-do in the school gym!"--Rhiannon Giddens, member of the Grammy Award–winning band Carolina Chocolate Drops"

**
Review:
"For anyone interested in the history of American square dance and clogging, Phil Jamison's book is required (and enjoyable) reading. This is by far the most ambitious and comprehensive work on the subject yet, featuring a wealth of quotations from historical sources that the author has meticulously researched as well as his own extensive firsthand knowledge of the subject. Jamison refutes some long-held myths (for example, that the Appalachian square dance is an ancient and pure form of English country dance) and brings to light heretofore overlooked historical information (such as the significant role of African American dancers, musicians, and callers). Not only does he cover a large number of pertinent subjects (from early 78 rpm recordings of regional callers, to the history of the Virginia Reel, couple dances, and cakewalks), but he presents some pointed criticism of past popularizers. There may even be a few ruffled feathers, but, to me, an important by-product of serious scholarship is to stimulate further discussion and research. Well done, Mr. Jamison!"--Bob Dalsemer, square and contra dance caller and author of West Virginia Square Dances"

**
Review:
"Appalachian dancer, dance scholar, and lover of dance Phil Jamison has crafted an artfully written, finely researched, groundbreaking, and comprehensive history of the multiple dance forms known as Appalachian dance. In dispelling myths of Appalachian isolation and whiteness, Jamison describes the transmission of dances through the vibrant commerce that flowed along the Ohio River and its tributaries—the backdoor to Appalachia—linking Pittsburgh to New Orleans and the central and southern Appalachians in between. Grounding his rich and detailed descriptions in a carefully crafted analysis of the ethnic diversity in the Southern backcountry, Jamison details the importance of European, African American, and Native American dance to the Southern square dances, social dances, and step dance traditions, as well as the contemporary dance forms popular in the twenty-first century." --Patricia Beaver, professor emerita, Appalachian State University"

****
SHOWCASE VIDEOS OF THE SQUARE DANCE FIGURE: THE BIRD IN THE CAGE
Example #1: Traditional Square Dance - Birdie In The Cage



RubberCrutches, Uploaded on Mar 8, 2010

Located in the Appalachian Plateau of the United States in Saegertown, Pennsylvania stands the "Wild Country Dance Hall". Local folks still dance square dancing in the old traditional square dance fashion to caller, Dan Freligh and his Digital Band, on Friday nights.

****
Example #2: Double Birdie square dance



SquareDanceHistory, Uploaded on Dec 12, 2011

Larry Edelman calls a variation of Birdie in the Cage at the Dare To Be Square weekend held November 18-20, 2011, at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC.

Musicians are Steve Hickman and Jim Morrison, fiddles; Claudio Buchwald, piano; Sam Bartlett, banjo. The tune is "Butcher's Row."

The weekend was sponsored by the Folk School and by Country Dance and Song Society. It brought six well-known callers and 70 square dance enthusiasts together to explore many different styles of squares, including both traditional and modern. The organizers will post additional video clips-- watch this space!-- as well as make audio clips and a syllabus available.

This video posting is part of the Square Dance History Project. More information about us can be found here: http://www.SquareDanceHistory.org

Recorded 19 November 2011 by John-Michael Seng-Wheeler and David Millstone

****
Example #3: Dances of Jerry Goodwin 1a - Birdie in the Cage (teaching)



SquareDanceHistory, Uploaded on Dec 18, 2011

Larry Edelman led a workshop session on dances he learned from the calling of Jerry Goodwin, originally from West Virginia but living and calling in western Pennsylvania when Larry studied with him in the 1970s. Some of the dances were ones Jerry had learned from his father.

This was recorded at Dare To Be Square on November 19, 2011, at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. Additional support for the weekend, including for this videotaping by John-Michael Seng-Wheeler, was provided by Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS). The weekend brought together six well-known callers and some 70 square dance enthusiasts from around the country to explore different traditional and modern styles.

This clip shows Larry teaching the figures; you'll find a separate video with the actual dancing dancing. Each Brasstown workshop also has a sampler, with a short excerpt of each dance.

Musicians for this session were Claudio Buchwald and Steve Hickman, fiddles; Jim Morrison, guitar; and Sam Bartlett, banjo.

These videos are part of the Square Dance History Project. You can read more about us here: http://www.SquareDanceHistory.org


****
Example #4: Dances of Jerry Goodwin 1b - Birdie in the Cage



SquareDanceHistory Uploaded on Dec 18, 2011

Larry Edelman led a workshop session on dances he learned from the calling of Jerry Goodwin, originally from West Virginia but living and calling in western Pennsylvania when Larry studied with him in the 1970s. Some of the dances were ones Jerry had learned from his father. This version of Birdie in the Cage puts the active woman, and then her partner, into the center without the other dancers having to drop hands. A separate video shows Larry teaching the figure; this one shows the dancing.

This was recorded at Dare To Be Square on November 19, 2011, at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. Additional support for the weekend, including for this videotaping by John-Michael Seng-Wheeler, was provided by Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS). The weekend brought together six well-known callers and some 70 square dance enthusiasts from around the country to explore different traditional and modern styles.

In some cases, you'll find a separate video with instructions / walkthrough; in others, the teaching comes at the beginning of the clip, and in some cases you'll just see the dancing. Each Brasstown workshop also has a sampler, with a short excerpt of each dance.

Musicians for this session were Claudio Buchwald and Steve Hickman, fiddles; Jim Morrison, guitar; and Sam Bartlett, banjo. The tune is "Boil that Cabbage Down."

****
Example #5: Jerry Goodwin Calls Birdie in the Cage





Larry Edelman Published on Dec 3, 2013

Recorded at a square dance on February 7, 1987 at the Prosperity Fire Hall, Washington County, PA.
Jerry Goodwin, Caller

Mountain Express

****
This concludes Part II of this two part pancocojams series on African influences On American square dancing.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.


Square Dance Caller & Researcher Phil Jamison's YouTube Interview: African Influences On American Square Dance" (with transcription)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a two part pancocojams series on African American influences on American square dancing and American square dance music.

This post showcases a video of an interview with American square dance caller, dancer, researcher, and author Phil Jamison whose 2015 book Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance demonstrates the complex origins and evolution of Appalachian dance and provides information about its significant African American sources.

Click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/05/african-american-influences-on-american.html for Part II of this series. Part II presents information about and reviews of Phil Jamison's book.

Part II also showcases five videos of American square dancing, with particular emphasis on "the bird in the cage" figure which Jamison indicates is one of many square dance figures (movements) that is likely of African American origin.

****
The content of this post is provided for historical, folkloric, and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the memories of early African American square dance musicians. Thanks to Phil Jamison for his research and writing about American square dancing. Thanks to all those who are associated with this interview and YouTube video.

****
SHOWCASE VIDEO: Phil Jamison 2 - African influences on American square dance



Square Dance Interviews Published on May 17, 2016

Phil Jamison discusses his research into the origins of American square dance in the south, and describes the key role that African-American musicians played . There are the well-known musical elements—the role of the banjo, for example—and Phil also points out that the first callers were African-American. Even some distinctive square dance features such as Birdie in the Cage may have African roots.

Recorded November 18, 2011, at the Dare To Be Square dance weekend, John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. Interview conducted by David Millstone and videotaped by John-Michael Seng-Wheeler, with financial support provided by Country Dance and Song Society. This documentation is part of the Square Dance History Project...
-snip-
Note that the title of this video interview is "African Influences On American Square Dancing" instead of "African American Influences.." The emphasis on "African influences" may be because in this interview Phil Jamisons indicates that the banjo, improvisational dancing, call and response, and imitative bird dances are central to African traditions. Also in this interview, and, presumably in his book which I've not read yet, Phil Jamison references Black fiddlers playing and calling quadrilles and other country dances in the Caribbean and not just in the American South and in other regions of the United States.

****
TRANSCRIPTION OF PHIL JAMISON's VIDEO ON AFRICAN AMERICAN INFLUENCE ON SQUARE DANCING
[Pancocojams Editor: This video provides portions of this interview. This is my unofficial transcription of these portions.. Additions and corrections are welcome.]

Phil Jamison:
“I believe that the figure “bird in the cage” is African American-originally. I can’t find any dance in the European tradition that has an individual dancer improvising within a ring and yet that is very very common in African dances. And in this country, um, all the slave dances were basically like that- a ring with an individual dancer improvising and dancing like a bird. There are-ah-various bird imitation dances that come from the African tradition.

If you look at the Southern, Southern music, we have-the main instruments, were fiddle, of Northern European, ah, brought it over. Ah but then [there’s the] African derived banjo. And the combination of the banjo, the African banjo with the European fiddle is really what made the music distinctive. And I see a similar thing with the dances and that I believe that the first dance callers were African American and that dance calling comes from African tradition. Ah, there’s a very strong tradition in African of call and response and ah all, you know, back as early as 1690, slaves were playing fiddles for white people’s dances ah before you had um ah, ah obviously before you had ah recorded music. To be ah un, to be a musician was a ah a service position and if- surely White people were playing fiddles, but slaves realized that if you knew how to play the fiddle, you wouldn’t be working in the field, but you would be playing for the dances in the big house. And not just slaves but free blacks played fiddles too, And you were in a, in a different strata.

There’s hundreds of instances that I could cite of slave fiddlers and free blacks playing the music for white people’s dances. And-think of it like this, if you’re ah un, if you’re going to have, if you are just going to have a dance in your house for your family and friends, you might play the fiddle, your music yourself. Um just like if you’re going to, ah have friends over for supper, you might cook the meal yourself. But say it’s a bigger event, like, ah ah wedding- you hire a caterer. You have somebody else do the cooking. And the same thing if it’s a public dance, or in the South, plantation balls, so obviously, the musicians were invariably black. And this is true for two hundred years. And these black musicians, ah, learned the European dance tunes so that they could play the European ah fiddle. Ah and, you know, many many slave advertisements, you know “Slave for sale, plays the fiddle really well” , ah, notes of runaway slaves “plays the fiddle”- you’d see those all the time. And ah, dancing masters owned slaves. They didn’t have a boom box- they had a slave who could provide the music for their dancing schools. And as early as the seventeen hundreds, there are references to slaves in the South doing country dances and cotillions. And the slaves didn’t go to dancing school to learn those things. And the only way they could have done them is for somebody to be prompting them.

The white people did not have-I mean I’m sure that the dancing masters may have prompting their students in the dancing school, but at a public dance, it wasn’t something you did. You learned the figures at dancing school and then you went to the ball. And ah, the very first documented dance callers were all African American musicians. The earliest I know about is about 1819 in New Orleans and ah the architect Latrobe was down there. He went to a dance and he said “This annoying musician up here is calling out the figures to the quadrilles. This is just not right. “ And within a few years, in the 1820s there are other references as far North as New York state and other places in the South ah where the references to black fiddlers who were calling out the dance figures at public dances. By the 1840s, 50s there were white people doing it too. And by mid century, dance manuals are giving instruction on how to prompt quadrilles. And the dancing masters of course didn’t like it because it’s going to put them out of business. Once, once you could call the dances, dancers didn’t have to go to school anymore. And it let the dances pass, you know, just out into the countryside and they could be spread through the folk tradition. You didn’t have to have the dancing masters.

And so, what this did was to, it, it made the dances more impromptu, improvisational- which is an African dance, music and dance tradition. And it really separated them from the European tradition. And to me the, the dance calling which is African American, is the single biggest ingredient that separated, you know, made this an American dance form as opposed to a European dance form.

And there were black fiddlers in New Hampshire, in the seventeen hundreds, and un ah and there was slavery in New England, so there were slave fiddlers in New England as well as in the South. And they were playing for the dancing schools, so obviously they were…, and they were playing for the dances. Ah, they were around these dances, they- and this was happening in the Caribbean too- we talk about the Caribbean quadrilles. Same thing happened there ah where there were slaves who were doing the European country dances and quadrilles and, basically adopted that. And but the slaves were not sent to dancing schools so the only way they could do these was by prompting them, shouting out the figures at, while they are doing the dances.

[Interviewer David Millstone] - So the early calling is African Americans calling for their people

Jamison – Sure

[Interviewer] – in settings like that but then starting to call at white, at white events.

Jamison – True. And, and the reactions of the whites, in particular the visiting Europeans was that is not right, this is not the way it should be done. And the dancing masters were saying we hope this will go away soon. But it didn’t. It caught on.

And ah, and to me, that’s that’s the biggest secret about these dances. And when you think about it, it’s, it’s the African banjo is what transformed the music and made our fiddle music American, as opposed to, it’s not, is no longer British fiddle music, but it’s American. Um, and, and frankly, if you think about, if you were to list the different kinds of music that are really, truly, America, what would you think of? You’d think of jazz, blues, rock and roll, tap dance

[Interviewer] – Bluegrass

[Jamison] – Bluegrass. And they all have black influence. So, it, it made me think, well it’s, you know these square dances, we think of as American, and ah, they are an American dance form, but what makes them American and sets them apart from the European dances is the black influence.

The thing about the Black square dance calling, I know, just ah, I should say, ah, this is what I say the evidence suggests, and you know, I have no proof, but um, it, cert- I’ve done a lot of research and this is certainly what it looks like. And if someone can find an example of a white caller that precedes these black callers, I’d love to hear about it, but I, I haven’t seen it yet. You know, surely the dancing masters prompted their students, but that’s different than calling out figures, spontaneously at a dance."

****
This concludes Part I of this two part series on African American influences on American square dancing.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Stevie Wonder- "Superstition" (information, video, lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams showcases a video of Stevie Wonder's 1973 R&B song "Superstition".

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Stevie Wonder for his musical legacy. Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.

****
INFORMATION ABOUT THE STEVIE WONDER'S SONG "SUPERSTITION"
From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superstition_(song)
"Superstition" is a popular song composed, produced, arranged, and performed by Stevie Wonder for Motown Records in 1972. It was the lead single for Wonder's album Talking Book,[1] and released in many countries. It reached number one in the U.S.,[2] and number one on the soul singles chart.[3] The song was Wonder's first number-one single since "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours" and topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973.[4] Overseas, it peaked at number eleven in the UK during February 1973. In November 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song at No. 74 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song's lyrics are chiefly concerned with superstitions,[2] mentioning several popular superstitious fables throughout the song, and deal with the negative effects superstitious beliefs can bring."...

****
SHOWCASE VIDEO: Stevie Wonder ★ Superstition



Antony Sharmman, Uploaded on May 14, 2010

****
LYRICS: SUPERSTITION
(Stevie Wonder)

Very superstitious, writings on the wall,
Very superstitious, ladders bout' to fall,
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin' glass
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past

When you believe in things that you don't understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain't the way

Very superstitious, wash your face and hands,
Rid me of the problem, do all that you can,
Keep me in a daydream, keep me goin' strong,
You don't wanna save me, sad is my song

When you believe in things that you don't understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain't the way, yeh, yeh

Very superstitious, nothin' more to say,
Very superstitious, the devil's on his way,
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin' glass,
Seven years of bad luck, good things in your past

When you believe in things that you don't understand,
Then you suffer, Superstition ain't the way, no, no, no

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/steviewonder/superstition.html

****
Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

The Custom Of Wearing Birthday Dollars In New Orleans & Elsewhere In The USA

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams provides excerpts from several online discussion threads about the birthday custom in New Orleans and some other American communities of wearing dollars pinned to the top of a female's shirt or dress or a male's shirt.

This post also showcases two videos that show the custom of wearing birthday dollars.

The Addendum to this post showcases a video of the custom in Hawaii of wearing a dollar leis (necklace) for graduation. I believe that that Hawaiian custom has a different source than (what appears to be) the primarily Southern region of the United States custom of wearing (pinning) birthday dollars.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to to all those who are quoted in this post, thanks to all those who are featured in these videos, and thanks to the publishers of these YouTube videos.
-snip-
This post is a companion to the 2011 pancocojams post https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2011/09/pinning-birthday-dollars.html. I wrote in that post that the American custom of wearing birthday dollars appears to be largely practiced by African Americans, particularly in New Orleans and some other parts of the South. I also theorized that this custom is an adaptation of the Nigerian (and some other African nations') custom of "spraying" paper money on a person to express appreciation and congratulations. In those countries spraying money is not only done at weddings, birthdays, but is also done to express appreciation for dancers, singers, or other people in a program. That 2011 pancocojams post showcases several African videos of people spraying money.

****
COMMENTS ABOUT WEARING BIRTHDAY DOLLARS IN THE UNITED STATES
These comments are given in no particular order and are numbered for referencing purposes only.
Excerpt #1
From https://www.facebook.com/OonkasBoonkas/posts/10152321751568172
Oonkas Boonkas, June 26, 2014
"The Cajun Tradition of pinning money onto the birthday boy or girl is the most prevalent among African Americans with it being at it's highest concentration in New Orleans.
This is an old New Orleans tradition. This is not a “new” ritual at least not to those of us from New Orleans. The first time it happened to me a French Quarter chef pinned a $20 note on me said happy Birthday and gave me a kiss I didn't know what to do.

And, although it’s roots are in the black community, everyone in NOLA celebrates with this tradition if they are so inclined. It doesn’t matter what color you are! We are a gumbo of people in NOLA who truly assimilate and appreciate each others culture, i.e. jazz, creole cooking, etc....

You all may be interested in reading this. New Orleans has deep ties to West Africa due to slave trading.

So, this makes sense:
It’s also a West African custom to give money to musicians and dancers while they are performing. Paper money is given in appreciation of the performance. The dollar bills, or other paper money, are either laid at their feet or put in their clothing. This is called “dashing” or “spraying”.

That custom-and the West Africa custom of dashing newlyweds with dollar bills at their wedding reception-are also done in the United States and other places where West Africans live. These gifts are expressions of appreciation and good fortune.

These traditions of “dashing” are probably the source of the custom among some African Americans of giving people (especially children) celebrating their birthday gifts of dollar bills. Those dollar bills are then pinned to the birthday celebrant’s shirt, blouse, or the dress top (near his or her heart).

Lastly, many New Orleanians were scattered to the four corners of this country during Katrina. Some of our New Orleanians evacuated to Houston and have remained there. Hence the picture at the bus stop*.

The custom of spraying money is a traditional Yoruba custom for special occasions such as birthdays, and weddings. Paper money is placed on the honoree’s face and floats down to the ground where it is collected by a designated person. "Spraying” (dashing) is different and was done to shower good fortune on the honoree-that good fortune literally and symbolically is represented by the paper money that is supposed to come down like rain upon that person.

The African American custom of pinning dollar bills to the birthday person (for adults, it seems to me that the honoree is usually female) derives from that Nigerian custom. We pin the dollar bills on to make sure that none goes missing-and a dollar bill is pinned on the top of a person’s dress or shirt to indicate that it’s that person’s birthday and to therefore receive other dollar bills from those seeing that pinned money (whether they are known or unknown to the birthday celebrant)."
-snip-
*This Facebook post includes a photograph of a young Black woman sitting at a bus stop with dollar bills pinned to the left side of her top. A young man is also shown looking at her. The sub-title for this photograph is "poorly dressed". http://cheezburger.com/4674067968?utm_source=embed&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=sharewidget

That photograph and article which ridiculed the woman with dollars pinned to her shirt is what motivated me to publish the 2011 "Pinning Birthday Dollars" pancocojams post whose link is given above. It's interesting that as of at least May 25, 2017, no comments are shown for that particular post, although in 2011 I responded to one comment which I quoted, and I also quoted another comment. And my recollection is that there were other comments besides those three which are preserved in that pancocojams post.

That Facebook post also featured a black and white photograph of an old Black man with birthday dollars pinned to the top right and top left of his suit coat and also pinned throughout many other areas of that suit coat.

****
Excerpt #2
Pancocojams Editor: Notice the assumption in several of these comments in this yahoo answers.com excerpt that wearing birthday dollars is a "Black custom".

From https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060824102245AAlarf6 What's up with pinning dollar bills to your shirt on your birthday?

Question:
"What's the story behind pinning dollar bills to your shirt on your birthday? Do people do this any other time, or all the time? How many dollars are you supposed to pin to yourself? Apparently it's a black person thing popular in schools. I've only seen one person do it, but other people have mentioned it and we couldn't figure out why people would do something that silly.

Update: Do you provide your own cash, or do you try to persuade others to donate?"
-no name given, 2007

**
Answers
1. "Best Answer: They do that at my school. The goal is to get the number of $1 bills as your age (ex. $16 if you turn 16) I don't know the story behind it but they hate it when the white kids do it lol
-mjstwin0405 · 2007

**
2. "It's not a black thing. It's a "people that can use a little extra cash thing". They used to do it when I lived in Houston, but I moved to a nicer neighborhood and they don't do that anymore. See? It's also a way of giving people a chance to give you a birthday present if they haven't already. When I was in Houston, your friends would decorate the first bill with markers, and it went on top."
-happyfarah88, 2007

**
3. "You don't pin them on yourself. Your friends give you dollars for your birthday and pin them on you. I've never done it but I've heard about it. Kind of like a dollar dance at a wedding. I'm not black so I don't really know if it's a black thing."
Boober Fraggle, 2007

**
4. It's a form of gift giving. They do this at wedding, birthdays and other celebrations. And it's not just a black thing. My family does it and we're asian. No, you don't provide your own bills, your guests give the money willingly.

Source(s):
my family"
bornagain, 2007

**
5. "It's from a "dollar dance".. which means you pay a dollar and you can dance with the girl.. It was originally a tradition at an Italian wedding.. but it became so popular.. everyone does it and not just for weddings anymore... birthdays, graduations, baby showers etc..
Janine, 2007
-snip-
I believe that pinning birthday dollars comes from a different source than the dollar dance custom that is described above.

**
6. Can a man get pinned with money for his birthday too?
jania, 2015
-snip-
There's no published answer to this question as of the date of this pancocojams post, but from reading other online comments, from the two videos that are shown below, and from my own (admittedly limited) experience, it appears that men in the United States can also have dollar bills pinned to their shirt. However, it also appears that more females (and perhaps more little girls) are the recipients of this custom than males of any age.

****
Excerpt #3
From https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60864-i34-k6516709-o10-Has_anyone_ever_done_the_pin_a_dollar_to_your_shirt_thing-New_Orleans_Louisiana.html [page 2] Re: Has anyone ever done the "pin a dollar to your shirt" thing?

1. KansCityKid, May 20, 2013
Kansas City

"Locals all know what it means. Not just a New Orleans thing, I have seen it done in Arkansas. Not sure how widespread it is, the whole Deep South or just a couple of states. It is a fun custom."

**
2. iquidLuck, May 21, 2013,
El Paso, Texas

"Yes, I have done that. Just a different variation. I live in the southwest, and the custom here is like a birthday corsage that you pin on and then bills get stapled to the corsage. As the night goes on other people add to it. If you do it this way, make sure to carry a mini stapler so people can add to your pile."

****
SHOWCASE VIDEOS
Pancocojams Editor:
In contrast to the multiple numbers of videos that I've found of the custom in parts of Africa of spraying people with paper money, I've only found a few videos of wearing dollar bills in the United States and most of those were from New Orleans, Louisiana. I didn't include two of those videos because the videos themselves or their summaries focused on people in clubs (nightclubs) drinking for their birthdays.

Example #1: CELEBRATION MONEY HANGER- GET ON THE SHELF



AyooDenise51, Uploaded on Feb 12, 2012

CELEBRATION MONEY HANGER IS A DECORATIVE WAY TO DISPLAY YOUR MONETARY GIFTS WHILE ANNOUNCING YOUR SPECIAL OCCASSION. THIS REPLACES THOSE DREADFUL SAFETY PINS, STAPLES AND JIM-CLIPS HOLDING MONEY TO YOUR SHIRT. A GREAT NOVELTY ITEM FOR ANYONE, ANY OCCASSION, ANY AGE, ANY GENDER. IT'S EVEN FOR YOU!
-snip-
This video is part of Walmart's 2012 "get on the shelf" contest: https://corporate.walmart.com/_news_/news-archive/2013/07/01/get-on-the-shelf [a] "Viral contest developed by @WalmartLabs returns, offering more opportunities for American businesses and entrepreneurs to sell their products to millions of new customers"
-snip-
The background music is an adaptation of the 2011 Baltimore (Maryland) Club Music song "Get On The Floor If You Got That Booty!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3lWBY6Oc3Ma

****
Example #2: Respect Rap Only



Hal Sandick Uploaded on Apr 25, 2011

Song Available on Itunes - "It's called respect" by the Fearless Lions.

Students use rap and dancing to explain the importance of respecting each other.
-snip-
The following selected comments refer to a male teacher who is wearing a dollar pinned to his shirt (at 2:30 of this video).
Zeraxi Roblox Gaming, 2016
"Lol why did he have a dollar on his shirt"

**
internal 21 ealu, 2016
"Zeraxi Roblox Gaming lol he did have a dollar on his shirt that's funny"

**
Reply
Nikki Bennett, 2017
"Zeraxi Roblox Gaming because it was is birthday duhh"

**
Reply
Clayton Adams, 2017
"Because it was his birthday, many people do that"

**
Reply
Room Fifteen, 2017
"what guy? still lol"

**
Reply
Mattygamer HD, 2017
"I thought it was a money necklace"*

**
Reply
Reborn CutiePies, 2017
"Room Fifteen the teacher at 2:30."
-snip-
*Watch the video given below as Example #3 for information about a "money necklace".

It's likely that the teacher in this video wore a dollar bill pinned to his shirt as a way of informing his students about this custom or acknowledging a custom that his students were already familiar with and definitely not with the expectation that any of his students would give him money. However, it's possible that other adults in that school may have acknowledged his birthday by giving him dollar bills.

****
ADDENDUM: How to make a money lei for graduation with school colors



Classy Cheapskate, Published on May 13, 2016

DIY project: How to make a money lei using school colors. This currency project is very easy and makes a super special gift for a high school or college graduate. It's so simple – all you need is paper, ribbon dollar bills, and tape. This method will not harm the money and the receiver will be able to spend the money gift when desired.
-snip-
Here's some information about Hawaiian money leis:
From http://www.proflowers.com/blog/why-we-give-hawaiian-leis-for-graduation
"When a person gives someone a lei, it symbolizes their affection towards the other. Leis are commonly presented when someone is arriving and leaving, so it’s no surprise that leis are given to graduates as they are leaving school and arriving to this new stage of life. Traditionally, the receiver is supposed to bow their head down so the gift-giver can place the lei around their neck. They end this custom with a kiss.

The most common types of leis are made from flowers or some type of botanical element, whether it be green leaves or vines. Dendrobium orchid leis are the most popular type of graduation ceremony gift because of their long-lasting quality. Purple is the most common color chosen for orchid leis, followed by white and green. Other graduation lei flower types are rose leis and carnation leis. Yellow roses are a popular choice for girl graduates because of their lovely fragrance and femininity. Carnations are also a great choice, for there are so many color options and therefore they are easier to match to the school’s colors—which is an important feature to consider when purchasing flowers for a grad."...

****
Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.