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  1. Thanks for this very interesting ‘Possum up a Gum Tree’ anecdote you dig up for us. One more to your credit !
    The location, the African Groove Theatre on Thomas Street, made it occuring just a few blocks away from the place where Thomas Rice was raised on Bowery district. He was still a teenager in early 1820s. Then the time of this episode is probably the time when Rice was discovering the forerunner of hip hop battles, when Irish and Afro American young men were dancing for eels, every week, at the end of the Ste Catherine Market. He couldn’t all the more miss it that he was then an apprentice from a woodcarver working for the fishermen that supplied New York with fish on this market. Their cooperative stood right near the spot where this competition took place. Then, “Jump Jim Crow” was probably inspired by those figures they performed in front of an enthusiastic public. And it is likely Rice was also first impressed there by burned cork that white dancers used to paint their face with, in their attempt to imitate their black competitors. In his book, “Raising Cain. Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop”, W.T. Lhamon Jr. gives a broad description of those practices in the Bowery district during the early 19th.

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