Charleston Dancers, Club Prudhom, c.1920s
The Charleston dance became established (worldwide) during the Jazz Age. The series of steps is thought to have originated with African-Americans living on a small island near Charleston, South Carolina. The Charleston was performed as early as 1903 and made its way into Harlem stage productions by 1913. In 1923, it was introduced to the theater going public at the New Amsterdam Theater in New York, when the “Ziegfeld Follies” staged a dance that featured the Charleston. The dance was an immediate hit. In the 1920’s, women who did the Charleston were called “Flappers” because of the way they would flap their arms and walk like birds while doing the Charleston. Many college students of the period, mostly men, wore raccoon coats and straw hats when doing the Charleston. By 1926, the Charleston had been replaced by other popular dances of the day. Charleston-style dance patterns and steps (often called Lindy Charleston) are very popular today with Lindy Hop and Jitterbug dancers. Addison Scurlock, photographer.
Source: Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution