A clog is a form of folk dancing, also known as footwork, practiced in the United States where the performer’s footwear is employed percussedly by striking the toe, heel, or either against another surface or each other, to produce pleasing audible tones, most commonly to the upbeats with the heel maintaining the beat. In some cases, one may find that one foot is striking the other foot. This type of dancing is sometimes called gliding by some. Dancers often have to learn many hundreds of footwork steps, and if they practice for some time before being given their certificates, they may be called on at any function or event, and perform a tango, waltz or a salsa to welcome the guests and to show appreciation to the host.
The Irish dance of Clogging has evolved into a highly popular form of energetic dance, and there are many clubs in North America where you will see dancers doing this exciting dance. The Irish term for Clogging, “ogging,” is derived from the word “gogging” (a synonym for “ustering”). The term was originally used in Great Britain, where it is regarded as a strenuous sport; the term was taken over by the Irish and is now used almost everywhere in the world. In the United States, though, the term is used somewhat differently.
The term “clogging” was adopted from the German term “klag,” which means “rolling over.” This sport has been known in Germany since the 18th century, and was first made popular in England and America by the French underground artists, but is now well established throughout the world. Some sources suggest that it was invented in Africa by the Bagua, but there is no evidence to support this claim. Regardless, it gained popularity as a competitive art form.
Clogging was first demonstrated in public in Ireland in 1825 and was initially done with plain tights, which participants found very uncomfortable. Two years later, participants began to wear leotards, which helped participants dress more stylishly. It was at this point that people started to use the phrase “gogging.”
As the Irish population grew, so did the number of competitions. These competitions included everything from footvolley, figure skating, and rollerginis to hip-hop and tap dancing. Eventually, the term “clogging” took on its current meaning of an Irish event. Many events soon followed, including the First Annual Cloggers’ Derby in Dingle, Ireland in 1892; the Clog Masters’ Cup in Belfast, Ireland in 1898; and the Clog Marathon in Armagh, Ireland in 1908. Today, however, it is considered a leisure event, and not a competition. If you want to learn about the history of clogging, here are some of the main styles and people involved:
Hip-hop and tap dancing are both considered to be styles of hip-hop dancing, and both have roots in early American culture. Both styles share some elements, such as wearing a flat, closed shoe, a wide belt, and a thick, wide strap across the chest. Hip-hop and tap dance evolved from the same places, too. Both are forms of dancing using foot movements to generate momentum on the ground to move the body. The difference: hip hop and tap dancing to use the entire body, while hip-hop relies more on the feet.
Early tapestries featured African music and the sounds of drums and bells, which made them seem like they would seamlessly fit into the tapestry of the American continent. In colonial America, American soldiers were sent to Africa to put to work in what was (and still is) one of the most important trading centers in world history. Many soldiers returned home with African rhythm as part of their training for battle. These soldiers blended African rhythms with European styles of clogging, and developed a new way to fight the British Army in the Americas.
African-American clogging shoes evolved into high top shoes and other styles over the years, but the idea of a “tap-dancing” style stayed the same. Clogging shoes today, however, are usually worn with a gait that mirrors walking on the ground. Clogs with open toes allow for a full range of motion. Tops with narrow laces are great for tight spaces and tight curves, but open toe shoes give you more flexibility. Today’s clogging shoes can even be worn with streetwear jeans!