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The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)


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An Egyptian musicologist noted that the fishermen along the Suez Canal have a unique folk dance very similar to the Charleston. He developed an intricate theory that the Charleston originated in Egypt and was transmitted via Nubian slaves into Central Africa, thence through the West African slave trade, to the American Carolinas where it emerged in the 1920s.

He ignored the obvious explanation: The fishermen picked it up from observing the tourists dancing on cruise ships from the United States using the Suez Canal in the 1920s.

The Charleston is a dance named after the harbor city of Charleston, South Carolina. The rhythm was popularized in mainstream dance music in the United States by a 1923 tune called "The Charleston" by composer/pianist James P. Johnson, which originated in the Broadway show Runnin' Wild and became one of the most popular hits of the decade. Runnin' Wild ran from October 28, 1923, through June 28, 1924. The peak year for the Charleston as a dance by the public was mid-1926 to 1927.


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