Dubbed the "Human Boa Constrictor," Earl Tucker invented
a dance called the "Snakehips" in the early 1930s.
Tucker enjoyed patronizing Harlem music clubs. At one of them, the
Savoy Ballroom, his unusual style of dancing—a sort of shimmy
that relied heavily on wiggling hips—attracted a great deal
of attention. So fluidly and flexibly did Tucker perform the dance
that he appeared to lack a skeleton. He made quite a name for himself
on the club circuit, then parlayed that popularity into performances
at Connie's Inn and the Cotton Club.
The dancer's renown (or notoriety, depending on your view) reached
its apex in 1935, when he appeared in a ten-minute film entitled Symphony
in Black: A Rhapsody of Negro Life. The bulk of this short feature
focuses on Duke Ellington composing at the piano, crosscut with shots
of the bandleader's orchestra playing an elaborate Ellington composition
that interprets aspects of African-American life. Those segments included
teenager Billie Holliday singing the blues, and "Snakehips"
Tucker demonstrating his eclectic and eccentric style of dance.