Swing Discussion Boards > What is Muggin?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by hopgal, Sep 11, 2003.

  1. hopgal

    hopgal New Member

    I have a Django Rheinhardt album with the song "I'se a Muggin," and I have heard this term used in other songs. It seems to refer to drinking? I have tried looking this up in the dictionary, but it's not there because it's slang.
  2. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Muggin' (v.) -- making 'em laugh, putting on the jive. "Muggin' lightly," light staccato swing; "muggin' heavy," heavy staccato swing.


  3. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    Muggin' (v.) -- making 'em laugh, putting on the jive. "Muggin' lightly," light staccato swing; "muggin' heavy," heavy staccato swing.

    gosh I love google!!
  4. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    hahahaha I guessed we looked that up at the same time! But you clearly beat me to it!

    And HELLLOOOOO hopgal!!!

    Welcome to the dance forums! Where are you from and how long have you been dancin'? :D
  5. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    haha, the only definition I have heard for 'muggin' was like "a mean stare" aka "yo dawg, why you mean muggin me" (lol, I watch too many ghetto movies)
  6. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Muggin also carries a somewhat deragatory meaning... muggin' means acting falsely for humors sake, or to act in a comedic manner to make others feel less intimidated.

    Think of the old characters portrayed by black actors in the 30's. The facial expressions many of them used are muggin' in this sense.
  7. hopgal

    hopgal New Member

    Thanks, everybody, for the info. It is hard to find a good website for slang, especially if it is a term that has been out of use for awhile, like some of the swing terms.

    In response to Swing Kitten, I am from New Hampshire and have only been dancing for about 6 months. Started out taking ballroom dancing lessons with my husband, then added a Lindy Hop class about a month ago. It's lots of fun, but I am still struggling.
  8. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    Are you currently living in New Hampshire?? I'm in Connecticut right now! You're not all that far away. The dancers I've met here have been very nice and helpful to me... especially when I was starting out! You say you just started lindy lessons? Have you braved the social dance floor yet?? I'm sure your instructor can reccommend a few good places to dance. Does your husband lindy with you? Oh what fun!
  9. hopgal

    hopgal New Member

    Yes, I currently live in NH. We have not yet ventured out into the "jungle," as one of my teachers calls it, only to the dances that are held at the dance schools we go to. Well, I guess those sort of count, but not like going to Swing City in Boston or anything. I want to do this, but we have to get our moves down a little better. DH still has a bit of trouble staying in time with the music, but it is hard to lead and he has a lot of things to remember. We are taking some private lessons also, and that has helped a lot. Last night I think we had a breakthrough with the "compression" thing. It just takes time.

    People are generally very nice where we dance, also. It just sometimes seems like everyone is dancing so far above my level that I don't dare ask them to dance, or they are so much worse than me, that I don't want to dance with them. (Especially when they THINK they are good dancers, but they're not.)
  10. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member


    I'm so happy to hear of your breaktrough!! Yes, compression is a magical and beautiful thing!!! What made it 'click' for you?

    I would recommend braving the 'jungle' periodically, it's so much fun!! Nothing has helped me learn faster than just going out and doing it! You're lucky and will bring a partner with you but you'll both learn so much more by dancing with the other folks there and then you two can compare notes.

    Don't let the more advanced dancers intimidate you... they were once beginners too and most of them remember that and so are very understanding and chances are you'll even learn something new that will increase your own ability as well. All you have to do is after you become a skilled dancer be sure to dance with beginners every now and then. It returns the favor, completes the cycle, and it's pretty fun.

    There are also lots of steps (venue wise) between dance studio dances where you know everyone and Swing City. Does your instructor know of nice places to dance in NH? I have found that the smaller venues tend to have a nice mix of experience levels and work pretty well for information sharing-- very casual, of course, people are there to dance and sometimes that's all they want to do and we have to respect that.
    This is when good judgement comes in... you can learn a lot from a dance all by itself and "teaching on the sidelines" is not always nessesary-- although many dancers are happy to help it's best not to assume.

    I hope you two will feel comfortable enough to go out soon and learn first hand that the dance is not really about the steps but the feeling!

    How long did you want to take lessons before you signed up? Was your husband eager to learn or did he need convincing? :wink: What other ballroom dances do you do? Is lindy hop your favorite? (pssst! it's my favorite too!!! shhhhh don't tell any of the salsa dancers!!) :D It's nice to see you posting and I look forward to your posts in the future!
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I'm definitely with Swing Kitten on this. It's really scary making the leap from dance studio to the real world, but it doesn't take long to start having fun out there.

    People out there in clubs and public dances are often a good mix of backgrounds and experience levels, and can be very, very nice to new people. The untrained dancers can teach you a lot about just relaxing and feeling the music. The trained dancers can teach you a lot about following the leader, not just automatically knowing the pattern.
    Either way, you win. :D
  12. Robert Boyter

    Robert Boyter New Member

    I am sorry to disagree, but I have studied Jazz playing and lyrics and slang for over 60 years, and your explanations are incorrect. In the 1920's, and much later as well, both the words "boo" and "bhang" were references to smokable marijuana. Even in the '60's musicians would ask "Have you got any Boo?" The song goes
    Chorus: "I'se (I is) a muggin' (smoking) boo, followed by a Scat line
    "We's (We is) a muggin bhang, followed by a Scat line.
    Scat line

    The song then alternates the 4 line verse, then the chorus again, then another 4 line verse. The Django Reinhardt Stephane Grapelli Freddy Taylor version is 4/4. I believe the Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy version is all 4/4.

    The term muggin' may come from the strange faces people made when trying not to cough on a lungful of marijuana smoke. In itself it became a term for smoking marijuana "Where's Dodo?" "Out back muggin'". The word Muggles was a name for a Marijuana smoker, commonly one who was incoherent or had slurred speech. (cf Clark Terry and Oscar Peterson, Muggles)

    Bhang is, I believe, Hindustani for smokable marijuana.

    The song was written by Stuff Smith for his group Stuff Smith and His Onyx Club Boys, as was the song If You's a Viper. Frankie Newton, who followed Stuff at the Onyx Club had his own song "Smoke some tea, and come with me, and we shall carry on" about the same subject. (cf Frankie Newton and the Onyx Club Orchestra Complete Recordings 1936.) In Ken Burns' series Jazz, Louis Armstrong is mentioned as having smoked marijuana every day of his adult life.

    Stuff also wrote, with Fats Waller, the song If You's a Viper ("Dream about a Reefer five feet long,/ A little bit hot but not too strong,/ you'll get high but not for long,/ If you's a Viper. I'm the king of everything,/ Gotta get high before I can swing,/ Light that tea and let it be,/ If you's a Viper. // When your throat gets dry/ you know you're high,/ Everything is dandy,/ Truck on down to the Candy Store,/ bust your conk on peppermint candy." A later line is "The sky is high and so am I,/ If you's a viper."

    Both songs may be credited to Tin Pan Alley writers, but the credit is wrong, as anyone familiar with the original recordings will know. Fat's Waller sold a great number of his original songs to publishing companies for cash in hand. He regularly sold them several times to several different companies. Additionally, the publishing companies would steal new lyrics by black artists and put the names of other writers on them. In the oughts, teens and twenties, most black musicians were concerned with making their livelihood from live performances. Both Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong gave up 50% of their earnings and publishing rights to their managers. That's just how black musicians were treated.

    Rob Boyter
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Hey, Robert, good to have you here. Sure wish d nice was still around to discusss this with you! siggav has been active recently, and has played swing violin.
    Here's a question maybe you can answer. When did Reinhardt/Grapelli recordings become avaiable in the US?
    Note, too, that it wasn't just black musicians who weren't connected enough to maximize profits on their work.
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Although, I have to say, Cab Calloway's Hepster's Dictionary, first published in 1938 or so (I have 1944 edition) is the primary source for this definition.

    Muggin' (v.) -- making 'em laugh, putting on the jive. "Muggin' lightly," light staccato swing; "muggin' heavy," heavy staccato swing.

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