Black Joke

Black Joke is a dance for 6 dancers. The figures are performed to the first part of the tune (the 'A' music) and the chorus to the second part of the tume (the 'B' music).England's Glory perform 2 versions of Black Joke - one (more energetic!) with hankies and a side-stepping chorus and one with a hand clapping chorus.The phrase 'the black joke' is vernacular for a 'woman's commodity' so it is not surprising that variations of this dance are found in a number of Cotswold traditions! It is not clear at what point the Ilmington side started to dance it but it was in their repertoire in 1886. The tune was apparently very popular in the 1720s and is found in 'The Country Dancing Master' by John Walsh, which was published in 1731. A 'Joke' or 'Joak' is a tune of 16 bars, but unusually the 'A' part is 6 bars, and the 'B' 10 bars. Ludwig van Beethoven set a song by T Toms - 'Dermot and Shelah' to the tune in 1810 and it was published as WoO152,#14 by George Thomson in Edinburgh in 1814.

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