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Turn on the Red Hot Heat, 1937

April 3, 2024

Turn on the Red Hot Heat, 1937

April 3, 2024
Gabriela Novellino

Check out this incredible and inspiring clip from 1937 featuring dancers Dorothy Saulters, tap dancers The Four Hot Shots, and pianist Maurice Rocco. This short clip is part of the larger number “Turn on the Red Hot Heat” which is featured in the motion picture Walter Wanger’s Vogues of 1938.

Click on the image to watch the clip!

Dorothy Saulters, also called Dotty Saulters, was a tap dancer, singer and an incredible entertainer, who hasn’t received enough recognition for her work (it was hard finding information about her life and career). In the 1930s, she worked as part of a duo with Maurice Rocco, the pianist who also appears in this clip, performing at the Kit-Kat Club in New York City. In 1937 the duo landed a two year contract with Hollywood, and this was one of the first movies they shot.

After Hollywood, the duo continued as a regular and also headline attraction at the Kit Kat Club for several years. Dorothy soon starts receiving invitations to join other shows and productions in the city. And guess what? She signs a contract to participate in the same show as… the Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers! They were part of the cast of On a Striver’s Row, with Louis Jordan, in March 1941 at the Apollo Theater, in Harlem.  

Image taken from thehidehoblog.com

She also went on to become the singer for Cab Calloway’s band from 1941-1947. So, you might have heard her voice at some point while you were dancing. Yet, most people have never heard of her before.

Maurice Rocco – who, unlike Dorothy, does have a Wikipedia page – was a pianist, singer, actor and composer. He was famous for his boogie-woogie music and for not sitting on a bench while playing the piano. As he was playing, he would beat out the rhythm with his feet or perform dance moves, which was very entertaining for the crowds. He became pretty famous across the United States and during the 1950s toured around Europe and Southeast Asia. He actually spent the last 12-15 years of his life performing in Thailand, where he had a residency.

You can check out the full performance of “Turn on the Red Hot Heat” here and watch Rocco showing all his amazing piano and entertaining skills towards the end of the clip.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find any information about The Four Hot Shots, the incredible tap dance quartet that participates in this performance. There are several dance and tap dance groups with the same or similar names, which makes it difficult to track them down (the frustrating moments of being a dance researcher).

If you wish to know more about Dorothy Saulter’s career, I encourage you to read the three parts of this blog post about her life.

Gabriela Novellino

Gabs started dancing in 1995 at four years old and has never stopped. While spending a year abroad in Leeds, UK in 2012, she discovered the dances of the Jazz Age, fell hopelessly in love, and decided to dedicate her life to this passion. She acts as a dancer, teacher, choreographer, researcher, dj and event organizer primarily in Brazil, Chile, and other South American scenes. She specializes mainly in Lindy Hop, Authentic Jazz, 1920s’ Charleston and Collegiate Shag. During the pandemic, Gabs has reinvented herself in order to bring people together through dance in an online format, by hosting online classes, sharing interesting information on social media and organizing big events, such as América Latina Swings. She is also a huge history geek and loves to dig deeper into the roots of Jazz music and dance. As a guest in the culture, she honors the opportunity to share the legacy and culture of Black American artists who created this art form.
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