To be honest, this is one of those songs you are brought up with and never really think about. I remember the big family Christmas parties when I was a kid...
Before we plunge into the fray with gusto and abandon, it might be worth reminding ourselves that there is a song called the Hokey Pokey that is well known in just about every English-speaking country.
Actually, it's primarily known as the Hokey Pokey in the United States, Canada, Ireland, and Australia. It's called the Hokey Cokey in the UK, the Hokey Tokey in New Zealand, and there are other variations also.
To be honest, this is one of those songs you are brought up with and never really think about. I remember the big family Christmas parties when I was a kid. After supper, when the adults had imbibed a tad more than was good for them, this would be one of the songs we'd all sing and dance to. (A little later the time would come for us all to sing Auld Lang Syne, at which time the ladies would start crying and then it was time for us kids to go to bed.)
The reason I started to think about this now is that someone just emailed me a spoof version of The Hokey Pokey as written by William Shakespeare. I'll share this with you in a moment, but before I do so I did a little research (which means I looked at the Wikipedia), where I discovered the following with regard to the Hokey Pokey:
The dance follows the instructions given in the lyrics of the song, which may be prompted by a bandleader, a participant, or a recording. A sample instruction set would be:
You put your [right leg] in,
You put your [right leg] out;
You put your [right leg] in,
And you shake it all about.
You do the hokey pokey,
And you turn yourself around.
That's what it's all about!
Participants stand in a circle. On "in" they put the appropriate body part in the circle, and on "out" they put it out of the circle. On "And you shake it all about", the body part is shaken three times (on "shake", "all", and "-bout", respectively). Throughout "You do the hokey pokey, / And you turn yourself around", the participants spin in a complete circle with the arms raised at 90° angles and the index fingers pointed up, shaking their arms up and down and their hips side to side seven times (on "do", "hoke-", "poke-", "and", "turn", "-self", and "-round" respectively). For the final "That's what it's all about", the participants clap with their hands out once on "that's" and "what" each, clap under the knee with the leg lifted up on "all", clap behind the back on "a-", and finally one more clap with the arms out on "-bout".
The body parts usually included are, in order, "right leg", "left leg", "right arm", "left arm", "head", "backside", and "whole self"; the body parts "right elbow", "left elbow", "right hip", and "left hip" are often included as well.
Each instruction set is followed by a chorus, which varies depending on where you are in the world. An example would be as follows:
Whoa, hokey cokey cokey
Whoa, hokey cokey cokey
Whoa, hokey cokey cokey,
Knees bent arms stretch,
Rah rah rah!
OK, back to the Shakespearian version. I'm sure this has been rattling around the Internet for years, but this was the first time I'd seen it and I thought it was wonderful. The message I received is presented in its entirety as follows:
The following is from the Washington Post Style Invitational contest that asked readers to submit "instructions" for something (anything), but written in the style of a famous person. The winning entry was The Hokey Pokey (as written by William Shakespeare).
O proud left foot, that ventures quick within
Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.
Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:
Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.
Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke,
A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.
To spin! A wilde release from Heavens yoke.
Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl.
The Hoke, the poke -- banish now thy doubt
Verily, I say, 'tis what it's all about.
-- by "William Shakespeare"
I cannot tell you why, but I just found this to be really, really funny. For me this captures the "feel" of Shakespeare in a way I find to be really clever … this is something I wish I had the ability to do myself (see also my review of Shakespeare – The World as Stage
by Bill Bryson).
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