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Pleasure Pavilion: 1910

Pleasure Pavilion: 1910

The Jersey Shore circa 1910. "Steel Pier, Atlantic City." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Cakewalk into Town

A slower tempo, roots-based musical accompaniment for your cakewalk, Taj Mahal (vocals) and Howard Johnson (Tuba): Cakewalk into Town, 1972. [Warning! YouTube link, marginally NSFW lyrics, "throw your big leg over me, mama", admissions of crime, "I spend my whole day stealing chickens, mama, from the rich folks' yard," whistling.]

Doin' the cakewalk

Here are some good examples of people performing the cakewalk, circa 1903:

White Folks' Cakewalk

I recall from the early 1950's, going to a rural school's harvest festival wherein cakewalks were performed by having all the people march around the perimeter of the cafeteria to recorded music. When the music stopped, the person who was standing in a designated spot won a wonderful homemade cake.

I expect the people taking part would not "have gotten" the slaves' satiric dance steps. But we all had fun at what we were doing.

Icing but I don't dance

So delicious cake was at least peripherally involved in this activity? Well OK.

Cakewalk explained

Cakewalk and ragtime were closely associated, and were just about the most popular dance and music styles of this period. The music's syncopated, jaunty rhythms inspired then-eccentric dance moves. If you were young and up-to-date, this was your thing.


Unlike many buildings we see in Shorpy Times, the beach pavilions usually look spotless. I'm guessing a fresh coat of paint was in order every season.

Piece of Cake

The Cakewalk is a dance done to ragtime music, a huge fad at this time. It was originated by black people, and then became popular with whites, too, who saw cakewalks performed in minstrel shows. Couples jig or prance along in a line, two by two, and the best (or most outrageous) couple win a prize, such as a cake - they literally "take the cake"!

More About The Cake Walk

The Cakewalk was a dance form...

The Cakewalk dance was developed from a "Prize Walk" done in the days of slavery, generally at get-togethers on plantations in the Southern United States. Alternative names for the original form of the dance were "chalkline-walk", and the "walk-around". At the conclusion of a performance of the original form of the dance in an exhibit at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, an enormous cake was awarded to the winning couple. Thereafter it was performed in minstrel shows, exclusively by men until the 1890s. The inclusion of women in the cast "made possible all sorts of improvisations in the Walk, and the original was soon changed into a grotesque dance" which became very popular across the country.


Enhanced and enlarged.

But where's the baby?

The pram is empty! I would submit that the tike is in the process of being buried up to his neck under the boardwalk by his out-of-patience siblings.


I do wish I could see more of the poster headlined "Cake Walks." I wonder what that was all about?


Perfect, as HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" has its Season 2 premiere next Sunday.

Vessella's Band

Here's some recordings of the featured Vessella's Italian Band to complete the mood.

Before the Donald

Either Shorpy's photos of recreational facilities were all taken on Sundays, with the people in their "go to meeting clothes", or society's idea of having fun was to dress up for the occasion.

Atlantic City before Donald Trump: innocent entertainment.

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