A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 06, 2005
“Song and dance” (slang, “false story")
The slang term "song and dance" (meaning an elaborately contrived story, told to evade the truth) possibly originated from New York City. An 1897 story in Harper's Weekly on "New York Slang" stated, "A flimsy excuse or transparent lie is called a 'song and dance.'"


(Oxford English Dictionary)
song and dance
fig. A rigmarole, an elaborately contrived story or entreaty, a fuss or outcry. Also attrib. colloq. (orig. U.S. slang).
1895 E. W. TOWNSEND Chimmie Fadden 6 Den, 'is whiskers gives me a song an' dance.
1900 B. MATTHEWS Confident To-Morrow 9 And it ain't a song-and-dance I'm giving you either.

20 March 1897, Mountain Democrat (Placerville, CA), pg. 3:
NEW YORK SLANG.
Some of the Words and Phrases of the
Tenement House Folk.
(...)
A flimsy excuse or transparent lie is called a "song and dance." "Why didn't you keep your engagement? Now don't give me no song and dance," is an example of the use of this queer phrase.
(...)
-- Harper's Weekly.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film • (0) Comments • Tuesday, December 06, 2005 • Permalink