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The meaning and origin of the expression: Boogie-woogie

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Boogie-woogie

Meaning

A style of blues music, with close links to jazz forms like ragtime and stride, usually played on the piano.

Origin

The origin of the term 'boogie-woogie' is uncertain. The most likely explanation is that it is a reduplication of 'boogie', which was the name given to a rent party in early 20th century USA. These parties were impromptu affairs, set up (pitched) to raise money to pay rent, at which a small entrance fee was charged. Brian Rust, in his exhaustive directory of recorded jazz music - 'Jazz Records 1897-1942', records this line from from a 1929 piece:

"We're gonna pitch a boogie right here."

boogie-woogieThe term boogie-woogie is first recorded in print as the title of Clarence 'Pinetop' Smith's 1928 recording, Pinetop's Boogie Woogie, which includes these lyrics:

I want all of you to know Pinetop's Boogie Woogie
I want everybody to dance just like I say
And when I say 'hold it there'
I want all of you ... to stop
And when I say stop - don't move
And when I say git it
I want all of you to do a boogie-woogie

See other reduplicated phrases.