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Source: https://youtu.be/8mq4UT4VnbE?t=22

Ever since I first saw this performance of Minnie the Moocher, I've been wondering what that means. He is walking stiffly with his upper body with strange leg movements while "brushing" part of his chest with one hand, the other hand's index finger pointing straight down, culminating in a Michael Jackson-esque leg movement (obviously MJ was inspired by him and not the other way around).

My first thought was that he was imitating a rich man with a monocle or something, but that doesn't seem to hold up.

Is it maybe just supposed to "look funny and unusual"?

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about dance and not music. – PiedPiper Jan 28 at 11:10
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    Relevant meta question: Are question about dance/dancers on-topic? – user3955 Jan 28 at 12:08
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    The "brushing" is stylistically buffing his fingernails. Beyond that, it's just kind of dance. – Duston Jan 28 at 15:07
  • @Duston Buffing his fingernails and then examining them to check out how he did. – jrw32982 supports Monica Jan 30 at 17:25
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This is a style from the '40s. Cab here is emulating a hepcat with how they typically walked. Hepcats were known for wearing Zoot Suits. Please read some of the book The Power of the Zoot: Youth Culture and Resistance During World War II by Luis Alvarez with keywords highlighted.

Also, this style of how young men carried themselves can be seen in this scene ("The Big Bad Wolf") from the Bugs Bunny cartoon movie The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie. There were a few cartoons from Looney Tunes devoted to this hepcat culture. This example is just one.

Tom and Jerry also had some cartoons reflecting this culture. Here is The Zoot Cat (1944), showing Tom dressed in a Zoot suit and acting the part.

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