Black Hawk Waltz

History of the Black Hawk Waltz in JRDC: started January 2012

The Black Hawk Waltz, the music and the dance, is the “secret handshake” of Johnson Rags Dance Club; the club’s trademark and tradition.  The tradition was started by our founder, Arden Johnson.

Arden Johnson taught ballroom dancing at Purdue and in the Greater Lafayette community in the 1970’s.  See the “History” tab for details.  Arden used “round dances” as a way to teach large groups of beginners common patterns.  He used round dances as warm-ups at the start of group lessons: Patty-Cake Polka (a mixer), Alley Cat (a line dance), Cotton-Eyed Joe and Coca-Cola Cowboy (from “Urban Cowboy”), a couple versions of Schottische (one as a couple and another with two couples!), and the Black Hawk Waltz.

The Black Hawk Waltz was a favorite of Arden’s.  One version of the club legend claims that Arden and the chap who made the recording were friends and that Arden helped sell the record by teaching the Black Hawk Waltz everywhere he went.

The music we dance to today is a digitally cleaned-up a copy the record Arden used in his classes.  Forty-five years later, here we are still dancing the Black Hawk Waltz to Arden’s record (which was probably 30 years old when we started)!

Play the Black Hawk Waltz

Here are several useful Black Hawk Waltz links: 

Video: Black Hawk Waltz Video

Document: blackhawk_waltz

Library of Congress: 

Walsh, Mary E. The”Black hawk” waltz. Ditson & Co., Oliver, Boston, monographic, 1874. Notated Music.

Johns Hopkins University Library:

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