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Everyone is a Hero

The song "みんながみんな英雄" ("Everyone is a Hero"), from the Japanese group AI, became a big hit in 2016. The video is gorgeous, and full of wacky scenes depicting heroes from different folktales coming together.

(YouTube link)

You might recognize the tune as "Turkey in the Straw." That tune has a peculiar history in Japan, where it is known as "The Oklahoma Mixer."

In 1946, an American education officer named Winfeld Niblo was stationed in Nagasaki, working to help Japan integrate Western educational values such as equality of the sexes through co-ed programs and activities. One such activity that he came up with was to teach country line dancing in Japan. Traditional Japanese dances rarely involve partners or physical contact between dancers, and his new dance soon became wildly popular, so much so that supposedly some began referring to square dancing simply as Niblo Dancing.

As the trend continued spreading throughout Japan, the founder of the Japan Association of Teachers of Dancing, Takami Shinkichi(玉置真吉), helped integrate square dancing into the national curriculum. Apparently he was teaching a version of Schottische line dance called the Oklahoma Mixer but found that the tempo and some of the footsteps were difficult, so he replaced the music with the slower Turkey in the Straw and simplified the steps (at least according to blogs and comments).

Before long, the song and dance became a staple in school sports days, and now most people know the song by the name of the dance.

Read more about The Oklahoma Mixer at Metafilter, with plenty of supporting links and more in the comments.


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