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 November 28, 2008
Turkey Dance (Thanksgiving football sack dance) & Funky Chicken Dance

The Dallas Cowboys traditionally play a home football game on Thanksgiving ("Turkey Day"). On November 27, 2008, the Cowboys defense recorded seven quarterback sacks. After each sack, the player who sacked the quarterback went into a “turkey dance,” flapping his arms like they were wings.

Dallas Cowboy defense end Jason Hatcher is credited with the idea of the “turkey dance,” although Dallas Cowboy linebacker DeMarcus Ware did most of the dancing, with three sacks.

Houston Oiler kick returner/wide receiver Billy “White Shoes” Johnson did a “funky chicken” dance when he started scoring NFL touchdowns in 1974, and the “turkey dance” is a distant relative of the “funky chicken.”


Wikipedia: Jason Hatcher
Jason Hatcher (born July 13, 1982, in Alexandria, Louisiana) is a current American football defensive end in the NFL who plays for the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at Grambling State University, and was selected in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He was raised in Jena, Louisiana.

Wikipedia: Billy Johnson (American football)
William Arthur Johnson, aka “White Shoes”, (born January 27, 1952 in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania) is a former American football player in the National Football League from 1974 through 1988. He is widely famous for his elaborate celebrations in the end zone.

Early life
Johnson earned his famous nickname as a high schooler at Chichester High School in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, where he was painting a fence with white paint and spilled some of the paint on his new shoes. Ever since then, he has been referred to by his nickname. He was a very fast athlete, but his 5’9” size turned off prominent universities from recruiting him. Billy ended up going to Widener College in Pennsylvania, a small Division III school, where he was a member of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. While there, he had a highly successful career, but was barely noticed by professional scouts. He was eventually discovered by the Houston Oilers, who drafted him in the fifteenth round of the 1974 NFL Draft.

Professional career
Houston Oilers
Despite the late selection, Johnson managed to make the squad as a kickoff returner. Eventually, his speed and quickness became an occasional part of an offense. As a rookie, he began celebrating touchdowns with a dance known as the “Funky Chicken”, a dance based on a song from soul singer Rufus Thomas. It was one of the first touchdown celebrations in league history. The dance, along with his footwear, made Johnson very popular among Oilers fans.

15 November 1975, Abilene (TX) Reporter-News, “TD Dance Passing Fad” by Mark McDonald, pg. 2D, col. 1:
NCAA rules prohibit spiking the ball, or “hustling it” as they say in the locker room, but that hasn’t kept touchdown makers from adding the Funky Chicken to a six-point play.

Top Dancer
Elmo Wright may have been one of the best dancers in Houston, especially after all those high-stepping routines he did in the end zone for the University of Houston. Wright was just one of many who had his routine down to a science. Billy “White Shoes” Johnson of Houston is a top jelly-legged dancer, too.

Google News Archive
24 October 1977, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, pg. 16, col. 3:
Actually, the two interceptions, and answering questions as to why he had mimicked Houston receiver Billy (White Shoes) Johnson by doing the funky chicken after the first one, forced White to break a vow of silence.

Sports Illustrated
September 02, 1991
The No Fun League
End zone entertainers get the trapdoor fro fuddy-duddy rule makers

Curry Kirkpatrick
Would Billy Johnson without the “funky chicken” be just another guy who wore white shoes? 

Dallas (TX) Morning News
Cowboys flap wings to avoid ‘fines’
7:55 PM Thu, Nov 27, 2008
Tim MacMahon
You probably noticed that the Cowboys celebrated each of their seven sacks (team’s most since Nov. 9, 1997 vs. Arizona) with a variation of the Funky Chicken dance. Of course, they went with the Thanksgiving theme and called it the Turkey Dance.

The idea hatched when Jason Hatcher and some of the other defensive linemen were throwing the ball around before a practice. Hatcher celebrated a catch by busting out his Billy “White Shoes” Johnson impersonation, and the pass-rushers all agreed to do the dance when celebrating against the Seahawks.

DeMarcus Ware flapped his wings three times, but he humbly danced around a question about him whupping all-world LT Walter Jones. (Ware came from the other side on one of the three sacks, but still ... )

Austin (TX) American-Statesman
DALLAS COWBOYS
Seven sacks leave Dallas defenders’ dancin’, turkey prancin’
By Lary Bump
AMERICAN-STATESMAN CORRESPONDENT
Friday, November 28, 2008
IRVING — Jason Hatcher came up with the idea. Turkey day + sack dance = turkey dance.

“He told us if you celebrate and don’t do the turkey dance, you’ll have to pay a fine, like cleaning the locker room,” said Dallas outside linebacker Greg Ellis.

The Cowboys celebrated Thanksgiving Day with seven sacks of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in a 34-9 rout of the Seattle Seahawks. That meant seven editions of the turkey dance, which was more or less a big-boy chicken dance.

“I didn’t want the first one to be fined,” said linebacker Bradie James, who recorded two of the sacks to go with a game-high 13 tackles, a forced fumble and a pass defensed.

Even 33-year-old Greg Ellis got into the act in the fourth quarter when he put an exclamation point on the Cowboys’ highest sack total of the season with No. 7.

Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram
Posted on Fri, Nov. 28, 2008
Turkey sack dance shows how much Cowboys defense has improved
By GIL
IRVING — Four weeks ago, the Dallas Cowboys looked like a team with a terminal limp.

Now, they dance.

The idea was hatched, you might say, last week at practice. Defensive linemen Marcus Spears and Jason Hatcher were goofing around, throwing the football, presumably before coach Wade Phillips arrived and practice turned really serious.

“I caught one and did the ‘Billy White Shoes Johnson’ thing,” Hatcher confessed. “So I said, ‘Throw it again,’ and that’s when I did the chicken dance.

“I said, ‘Hey, we need to call that the turkey dance, not the chicken dance. We need to do that on Thursday.’ ”

The rest, as the Cowboys’ 34-9 victory over the Seattle Seahawks attested, is poultry history.

Seven sacks by the Cowboys defense. Seven turkey dances.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Friday, November 28, 2008 • Permalink