Dance Inventor Dies

What with all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the almost unnoticed death, recently, of a very important person. Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote the Hokey-Pokey died peacefully at home. He was 93.

According to a reputable source, the well-known participatory dance became popular in the USA during the 1950's. It originated in 1949, when Larry LaPrise, Charles Macak, and Tafit Baker created it as a entertaining novelty for the ski crowd at Idaho's Sun Valley resort. The trio were granted the copyright for an accompanying song in 1950, and Ray Anthony's big band recording turned the song and dance into a nationwide sensation. Hokey-Pokey appeared on the B side of Anthony's Bunny Hop single.

Hokey-Pokey has virtually the same lyrics as the Hokey-cokey, a song and novelty dance which had been popular in England since the mid-1940s. In addition to the lyrics, the two songs also share similar dance moves. Specific body parts are named; these are sequentially put into the ring, taken out of the ring, and finally wiggled around manically inside the ring.

There's a wonderful, summertime connection. Hokey-Pokey is New Zealand's national ice cream flavor: crunchy toffee in vanilla. In England, Hokey-Pokey is a traditional name for ice cream, probably originating from the Italian vendors who peddled their wares shouting, Ecco un poco ("Try a little...").

LaPrise's funeral was private, attended mostly by family and close acquaintances. The most traumatic part was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in...and then the trouble started.

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Author:Ted Crane
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