Hokey Pokey and the Bunny Hop

Once again, the kindergarten brain break video displays another old favorite that I could not believe popular.You put your right foot in, You take your right foot out, You put your right foot in, And you shake it all about, You do the hokey pokey And you turn yourself around, That’s what it’s all about. For me, it was Ray Anthony’s original hit version of the party dance favorite “The Hokey Pokey” released in 1952. And it was on the B side of the Bunny Hop record. The Bunny Hop dance was created by students at high school in San Francisco as a variation on the conga line and the dance soon caught on across the U.S. Participants dance in a line or a circle, holding on to the hips of the person in front of them. They tap the floor two times with their left foot, then with their right foot, then they hop forwards, backwards, and finally three hops forward to finish the sequence, which continues throughout the tune. The first person in the line or the open circle leads the group around the floor. Even as a child, I wasn’t as fond of the Bunny hop as the Hokey Pokey.

Both were extremely popular at at wedding receptions in which everyone in the 1950’s and 1960’s joined in. Even those who hated dancing, the Hokey Pokey always put a smile on the faces of those listening.

In 1942, Irish songwriter and publisher Jimmy Kennedy, best known for “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic,” created a dance, and an instructional song to go with it, called “The Hokey Cokey.” And other versions existed also but according to Mental Floss, the earliest accurate record,  from an account, dated 1857, of two sisters from Canterbury, England, on a trip to Bridgewater, New Hampshire. On their visit they taught the people they met a song: I put my their right hand in.. and on it went.

Today, every dancer and singer does the Hokey Pokey for children. Hokey Pokey is a popular children’s dance song becoming an award-winning CD, “All-Time Children’s Favorites”. Certainly, the Hokey Pokey Song is a old time favorite song.  However, many child educators believe the performers online today such as Debbie Doo Kids TV, Go Noodle, Jack Hartman Kids and the Learning Station that perform the Hokey Pokey helps to improve young children’s listening and instruction taking skills. Who would have thought from wedding receptions and 1960 parties to 2020 You Tube videos putting my right food in and shake it all about once again.

Do you remember the Edgewater Beach Hotel?

My friends father was a stagehand for a few years during the 1940’s. He helped take the stage curtain down to replace, clean and helped with lights for live shows. His father was a kid then and would sometimes also help in the radio booth since a radio program did evolve from the hotel.  It was a strictly formal environment even though he had to get his hands dirty sometimes. He met Zsa, Zsa Gabor, Debbie Reynolds, Vic Damone as well as many other headliners.  The dining room, alone, could seat over one thousand people. He worked there for about four years. My parents also stayed their for relaxation to celebrate the new year and to see my mother’s favorite, the Tommy Dorsey Band. As WTTW tells us, it was a Chicago landmark — a lavish pink resort that stood on the lakefront at Sheridan near Foster for almost half a century. The Edgewater Beach Hotel has been closed since 1967, yet the memories linger on.

The hotel was huge and besides the hotel’s own radio station, a precursor to WGN with the call letters WEBH, there was a heliport, a print shop and a movie theater. It opened  on June 3, 1916 and anyone who was a star sang and danced at the hotel.  In the winter months, the bands played in the Marine Dining Room and, in the summer months, outdoors on the marble-tiled Beach Walk. Many parents of friends celebrated their proms or attended wedding receptions. Many visited taking romantic walks on the massive private beach.

According to Wikipedia, The 1951–54 extension of Lake Shore Drive from Foster Avenue to Hollywood Avenue reduced direct access to Lake Michigan, leading to a reduction in business. After the hotel was cut off from the lake by the new drive, a swimming pool was added in 1953. In 1960, in order to compete with popular downtown hotels, the Edgewater Beach underwent a $900,000 renovation which included the installation of air conditioning. King gave a major address at the conference to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at the hotel. The hotel closed in 1967 due to financial reasons. Demolition of the hotel complex began in the fall of 1969 and was completed by 1971.

However, a portion of the complex is still available to visit. In 1994, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and also belongs in the Bryn Mawr Historic District. Currently known as the Edgewater Beach apartments, there is still a lush foyer, a small library, a cafe, private gardens and a indoor pool.