It is important as senior citizens to keep abreast of the newest slang expressions invented by the young in the hope of further polarizing themselves. Lately I have seen a couple of signatures telling me to “Keep on Ballin'”, and a U-Tube titled “Ballin’ on a Budget”.

The thing the young haven’t figured out yet is that there is nothing new under the sun, and most of the terms they “invent” are reruns from the past. Not that there is anything wrong with that. A lot of old clever sayings were pretty self-explanatory. For instance, “ballin’ or balling” usually means “go for it” or something similar. How do I know this?

When I was a girl, my mother and her sister sang a little song called “Ballin’ the Jack” which was written in 1913 by Jim Burris with music by Chris Smith. It introduced a popular dance by the same name. Through the years it was used in many movies and was the expression was used by railroad workers to mean “going at full speed”. It was sometimes used regarding operating a jackhamer.

I did the dance for a friend of mine and she said “Oh, that’s the Chicken Dance”. The “Chicken Dance” is really cute, but it isn’t the same one. Here’s the real song and the lyrics describe the dance:

First you put your two knees close up tight,
Then you sway ’em to the left. then you sway “em to the right,
Step around the floor kind of nice and light,
Then you twis’ around and twis’ around with all your might,
your lovin’ arms straight out in space
Then do the Eagle Rock with style and l
Swing your foot way round then bring it back
Now that’s what I call “Ballin’ the Jack”.

Now I’d like to know who the heck the Jack is.

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

13 thoughts on “BALLIN’ THE JACK”

    1. You are so right. In those old days without TV, or computerized devises, people made their own fun and dancing, singing, games were so much fun. We lived in a kinder time in spite of no money! Remember the sing-a-longs at the movies?


  1. How old am I? So old that I don’t even have to go to YouTube. I know the tune to this song. Now that I’m reminded of the lyrics, I can’t help wondering if the Hokey Pokey might have been inspired by them.

    “You put your right foot in,
    You put your right foot out,
    You put your right foot in,
    And then you shake it all about.
    You do the hokey pokey
    And you turn yourself around:
    That’s what it’s all about ”

    I know the tune to that one, too. Anybody want to dance? This pair certainly could!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love it. And I’m sure you look just as cute dancing it. Why don’t we do these silly things now? Have people forgotten how to have fun? I can’t even get Dr. A to play Chinese checkers with me anymore because he knows I will win. My Grandma taught me and won most of the games until I figured out her method.


  3. The jive is the dance that people did on liberation day. They used to throw each other about and as a child I was amazed watching it on public squares in The Hague.
    After migrating to Australia in 1956, it might have been the ‘stomp’ that became popular, followed hot on the heels by doing the ‘twist’.

    I bought a booklet of tickets to learn the ‘fox-trot’ at Phyllis Bates dance studio, which was situated above a Greek Milk-bar. It was a more sedate type of dance and the required steps were painted on the floor.

    I was supposed to keep a book between my chest and that of the (female) teacher. The book was heavy. It was ‘Of Human Bondage’ by S. Maugham. I never dropped it once.


  4. My dad used to sing this all the time, and though we were singers, we weren’t dancers; and our sad interpretation of the dance lacked all style and grace, but we had fun. So I loved the video of Judy Garland and Gene Kelly dancing. It seems like magic to me.


  5. What a cute post! You really made me smile. I almost wanted to burst into song 🎵🎶🎵🎶 “Those were the days my friend, I thought they’d never end…


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