"Old Dan Tucker" used to be used as a dancing game.

Old Dan Tucker - American Children's Songs - The USA - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image


This comes from an American minstrel song that became popular in 1843. That's when the first sheet music was published for the song.


Here are some verses from Nebraska in 1878:

1. Old Dan Tucker's back in town,
He swings those ladies all around;
First to the right, and then to the left,
And then to the one that you love best.

Get out of the way for Old Dan Tucker,
You're too late to get your supper.
Supper's over, breakfast's frying,
Old Dan Tucker stands there crying.

2. Old Dan Tucker's a queer old man,
He washed his face in the frying pan,
He combed his hair with a wagon wheel,
And died of the toothache in his heel.

Dance Directions: "Balance; swing partners; grand right and left; promenade."

Game Instructions

The players form a circle as partners. One guy goes in the middle as "Old Dan Tucker" and chooses a dance partner. They then swing around in the center. He chooses a new partner from the circle and joins her. That person's old partner now goes in the center as the new "Dan Tucker". The game starts all over again.

Thanks and Acknowledgements

This song can be found in "The Journal of American Folk-lore" (1916). Image composed by Mama Lisa.