Everybody can agree that the Hokey Pokey is one of the all time great dance classics. Some historians believe that Hokey Pokey is a corruption of the magical words Hocus Pocus. Hocus Pocus comes from the Latin “Hoc corpus meum,” meaning the transformation of bread into the body of Christ.
Yet the mystical story behind the Hokey Pokey doesn’t stop there. In 1857, some traveling performers taught these song lyrics to villagers in England:
“I put my right hand in,
I put my right hand out,
I give my hand a shake, shake, shake,
And I turn myself about.”
Zap forward to 1942 when stories have it that an Irish songwriter and a Londoner both seem to have written the song to entertain foreign troops: the Hokey Cokey and the Hokey Pokey repectively. In 1940 “The Hoey Oka” was released by Gerry Hoey, a British band leader. In 1946 the song shows up again, but this time is recorded in Scranton PA, USA by a group who also claim to have written the song.
Without deviation, the Hokey Pokey we all know and love today was recorded in 1949 by Charles Mack, Taft Baker, and Larry Laprise. The version we still here today at skating rinks or at weddings was recorded in 1953 by Ray Anthony’s orchestra. The Bunny Hop was the flip side of that recording. The connection between all these apparitions of the Hokey Pokey are unclear. One thing is for sure, Jesus died so that you would do the Hokey Pokey.