The Cake Walk

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  • The cakewalk is a couples’ dance originated by black slaves in North America around the early 1900’s. It was originally known as the chalk line walk, adapted from the Seminole Indians. The "walkers would walk a straight line and balance buckets of water on their heads.

     

    Eventually, the cakewalk became the only approved way to mock the white masters in the "big house." the dance would be held at the master’s plantation house and he would, in turn, serve as a judge. Which dance was performed? Well, that was determined by the type of cake presented.

     

    That same cake was awarded to the winning couple. Slaves and servants were encouraged to mock the masters at the cakewalk. The dancers wore their best clothing and imitated white men and women. 

     

    Some plantation owners would bake a special cake called a hoecake wrapped in cabbage leaf for the cakewalk and invited the neighbors over to again, watch the slaves perform. The prize included a hoecake for the males and molasses pulled candy for the ladies.  The winning slaves would get the cake or candy, possibly giving birth to the term "that takes the cake!"  

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