If you try to tell a forgotten story every day, as I do, you will find despite billions of bits and bytes, the internet frequently lets you down. There is no substitute for the library kids…just remember that.
In researching the snapshot above, from 1955, showing an African-American man writhing on the floor, I was reminded of a brief fad from my junior high school days. A dance move so bold, so racy, so damn filthy that the minute ONE boy did it, the party was OVER. At the least, the offender was yanked up and sent home with a phone call to his parents .
It was called the Alligator.
To do the Alligator, when I was a kid, was to drop down and feign the male humping of intercourse on the floor of the gymnasium. That's right. To fake the fug. To plunge to the floor and rut like a dog right near center-court when the chaperones were busy looking for smokers in the boy's room. When I found and bought this snapshot I was determined to bring it back.
I expected deep Gullah roots or something… a juke joint origin from the early days of rock and roll, when the Devil's music was just starting to ruin America's youth.
Imagine my dismay when the almighty internet traced it to a 1980s move from Bob Saget's completely neutered TV show FULL HOUSE! What a crock! As in Crocodile, not alligator. SURELY I wasn't wrong…and surely whatever the Full House claimed as their dance step involved fewer real humps than a camel without any.
To my great dismay that is where the trail ended, almost. I still remembered back in my youth the big scandal and hallways in school following sock hops when so and so was yanked up off the floor after a brief, furtive "alligator rock" down on the floor.
And finally I found what I was looking for. Read it yourself. Sure enough, I wasn't crazy, and the dance had spread to Cincinnati. The UPI even picked it up! The date was exactly when I remembered it too! 1966! Of course, in the original photo here, you can see, as always with dance, the brothers did it ten years earlier than we did.
But that is about all I found. So the next time I am at the Dance floor at the Lincoln Center Library, I'll see what else I can find. Obviously, the web sucks.
Original Anonymous Snapshot, 1955 Collection Jim Linderman
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