Although the clergy disapproved, the Germans in upcountry South Carolina continued dancing. They had an interesting custom, which looks like it must have been brought over from Germany. Is this the origin of the cakewalk?
The Dutch Fork people were very fond of dancing – there was no other kind of dances but reel dances. What a great time they would have at weddings! As soon as the bride and groom were married, which was generally around twelve o’clock, then the young folks would walk for the cake hanging up in the house, nearly as large as a grindstone, with a gold finger ring in its centre.
Each young man would take a partner to walk for the cake, there being generally about a dozen couples. In walking for the cake they would walk around the hose, and the man who started in front had a walking stick in his hand, and when he would get around the house to the place where he started from he would give it to the man next behind him, and he to the next when they again came around, and so on until they heard the firing of a gun, when he, in whose hands the stick then happened to be, won the cake.
About the firing of the gun, be it known that a man had been sent off with a gun charged with powder only, clear out of sight, with orders not to shoot in less than half an hour.
After the firing of the gun, the young lady, the partner of the winner, cut the cake and gave the gold ring to the bride. By this time dinner was ready. A long table was set in the yard loaded with everything that could be had to make a good dinner. As soon as dinner was over the commenced dancing, and kept it up frequently for two or three days. They danced the old-fashioned reels. Not only the young women and the young men danced, but the married women and the married men also took part in the amusement.
Only the old women who could dance a jig. Two straws were crossed on the floor; the fiddler would begin to play a lively, quick tune; the old woman would pull up her dress high enough to keep it from moving the straws, then dance the jig over and between the straws for several minutes without moving a straw. It was very amusing and really wonderful to see how light and nimble, and how fast they could use their feet.