BALLIN’ THE JACK


330px-BallinTheJack-1913

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.