The Lambeth Walk
|"The Lambeth Walk"|
|Lyricist(s)||Douglas Furber, L. Arthur Rose|
"The Lambeth Walk" is a song from the 1937 musical Me and My Girl (with book and lyrics by Douglas Furber and L. Arthur Rose and music by Noel Gay). The song takes its name from a local street Lambeth Walk once notable for its street market and working class culture in Lambeth, an area of London. The tune gave its name to a Cockney dance made popular in 1937 by Lupino Lane.
The choreography from the musical, in which the song was a show-stopping Cockney-inspired extravaganza, inspired a popular walking dance, performed in a jaunty strutting style. Lane explained the origin of the dance as follows: "I got the idea from my personal experience and from having worked among cockneys. I'm a cockney born and bred myself. The Lambeth Walk is just an exaggerated idea of how the cockney struts." 
When the stage show had been running for a few months, C.L. Heimann, managing director of the Locarno Dance Halls, got one of his dancing instructors, Adele England, to elaborate the walk into a dance. "Starting from the Locarno Dance Hall, Streatham, the dance-version of the Lambeth Walk swept the country." The craze reached Buckingham Palace, with King George VI and Queen Elizabeth attending a performance and joining in the shouted "Oi" which ends the chorus."
The fad reached the United States in 1938, popularized by Boston-based orchestra-leader Joseph (Joe) Rines, among others. Rines and his band frequently performed in New York, and the dance became especially popular at the "better" night clubs.
As with most dance crazes, other well-known orchestras did versions of the song, including Duke Ellington's. The dance then spread across America, and to Paris and Prague. Mass Observation devoted a chapter of their book Britain (1939) to the craze.
In Germany, big band leader Adalbert Lutter made a German-language adaptation called Lambert's Nachtlokal that quickly became popular in swing clubs. A member of the Nazi Party drew attention to it in 1939 by declaring The Lambeth Walk "Jewish mischief and animalistic hopping", as part of a speech on how the "revolution of private life" was one of the next big tasks of National Socialism in Germany. However, the song continued to be popular with the German public and was even played on the radio, particularly during the war, as part of the vital task of maintaining public morale.
In 1942, Charles A. Ridley of the Ministry of Information made a short propaganda film, Lambeth Walk - Nazi Style, which edited existing footage taken from Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will to make it appear as if they were dancing to "The Lambeth Walk". The propaganda film was distributed uncredited to newsreel companies, which would supply their own narration. Joseph Goebbels placed Ridley on a Gestapo list for elimination if Britain were defeated.
The composer Franz Reizenstein wrote a set of Variations on the Lambeth Walk, each variation a pastiche of the style of a major classical composer. Notable are the variations in the styles of Beethoven, Chopin, and Liszt.
1899 song by Alec Hurley
- "Lambeth Walk". streetmap.co.uk.
- Madge, Charles & Harrisson, Tom (1939). Britain by Mass Observation. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
- Guy, Stephens (2001). Richards, Jeffrey, ed. The Unknown 1930s: An Alternative History of the British Cinema 1929-39. I.B.Tauris. p. 112. ISBN 1-86064-628-X.
- "The Goofy, Anti-Nazi Parody Video That Enraged Goebbels". Slate. 2014-12-19. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
- Ridley, Charles A. (1942). Lambeth Walk - Nazi Style.
- "Nazis Hold Lambeth Walk is 'Animalistic Hopping'". The New York Times. January 8, 1939. p. 26.
- "Photos That Changed The World - The Lambeth Walk". Phaidon. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
- Nicholson, Geoff. The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science, and Literature of Pedestrianism. Penguin, 2009, Chapter 5 ISBN 1-59448-403-1
- "The Lambeth Walk". monologues.co.uk. 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
- Ariane Mak, "Danser la Lambeth Walk ou les formes de folklorisation de la culture cockney. Étude et revisite de l’enquête du Mass Observation", Mil neuf cent. Revue d'histoire intellectuelle, n° 35, 2017.
- on YouTube - Movietone Newsreel using Charles A. Ridley's footage edited from "Triumph of the Will"