Step dancing - the beating out of a musical rhythm with the toes and
heels - is probably as old as hard soled footwear, but English Clog
Dancing is a product of the industrialisation of the North of England
in the nineteenth century, where the working classes wore shoes with
wooden soles and leather uppers. It is said to have first been danced
by girls working in the cotton mills. They beat out a rhythm with their
wooden clogs to keep in time with the shuttle flying backwards and forwards
across the loom. It soon became popular with both men and women, and
began to include all the traditional hornpipe and reel steps which had
been danced in England for many years.
Soon clog competitions began to be held, at which dancers were marked
for their originality, and for the clearness of their beats, that is,
the sound that their clogs made on the wooden floors. Clog dancing was
popular also in the Music Halls and Variety Theatres in the North of
England, and was danced in flamboyant style to popular waltzes of the
day such as Daisy Daisy.
also a French Version of this handout.