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Modern MovesDancing Race during the Ragtime and Jazz Eras$
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Danielle Robinson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199779215

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199779215.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 November 2021

“Let’s Go Back Home”

“Let’s Go Back Home”

The Slow Drag, Black Migration, and the Birth of Black Harlem

(p.35) Chapter 1 “Let’s Go Back Home”
Modern Moves

Danielle Robinson

Oxford University Press

This chapter draws upon Harlem Renaissance literature, Marshall and Jean Stearns’s jazz research interviews, and 1940s Works Progress Administration (WPA) reports to examine the social dancing that was practiced among working-class African Americans in New York City around the time of large-scale migrations from the Southern United States. As people and dances transitioned from the rural South to cities in the North, hybrid practices emerged. Using the slow drag—a dance that actually defies labels such as ragtime, blues, or jazz—as a focal point, chapter one analyzes what happened when group-based African-derived dance movements became reframed within European couple formations. African American migrants utilized the social practice of dancing as a means of reconstructing home and a sense of self in environs where the notion of the “Negro” was taking on radically new significance.

Keywords:   Harlem Renaissance, African Americans, black migration, blues, working class, assimilation

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