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The Tap Dance Record
Columbia Playtime Records

Columbia records released The Tap Dance Record under its Playtime label. I don't know much about kids' records but on the back of the sleeve, there's a list of Playtime Records different series which include Marches, Nursery Songs, Story Songs, Christmas, Cowboy, Hymns, Bible Stories and Special Records. This tap dance record is in the SPECIAL category. The record number is 370-PV. The record is made of thin red plastic. The sleeve size is like a 45 rpm single record, or an EP jacket, but the record itself is slightly small, measuring about 15 cm instead of the normal 17 cm. There's no indication of the records proper speed, so first I played it at 33 1/3rpm. That sounded slow, so I tried 45 rpm -- still slow. So this little record is a 78 rpm recording. I don't think this plastic record is strong enough for a heavy steel needle. So my guess is it was released in the early 50's when 78 rpm is still around, but the tone arms have become lighter. I suspect there are special record players just for kids that just fit this record.

Of course, I am interested in this record as a tap dance collectible, not as a kids' record. While preparing this English language version of my site, I found great information about records for children at a web site called The Kiddie Record King. The King has this so say about Playtime records, " Columbia's Playtime, a long running series of 6" and 7" records (originally 70 titles, then reissued in a series of 113 titles) began in the late 1930's and continued up to 1954." Well, I guess my slightly small Tap Dance Record is a 6 incher. The Kiddie Record King, has a another great piece posted at World of Gramophones.

On one side of the record you get Swanee River. The other side is East Side, West Side. They're the kinds of tunes you might expect, I guess, to be used in tap exercise. They are played by the Columbia Playtime Orchestra, only sax, piano and bass. Swanee River has tap sounds, but East Side ... is just music, though the orchestra switches out the sax for a clarinet. Picture it: Levittown, Pa., 1956, children in patent leather tap shoes trying to keep a simple beat, dancing on the stage in the all-purpose room of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School. Back then Columbia Records found a market for this tap dance record. It's amazing!


— Shinichi Matsumoto

Great Dance Music for children is available from