I semi-jokingly call the Rag-Time Crawl "the dance for when I get tired of the Castle Schottische". It basically fulfills the same function: easy to dance, accessible to beginners, and comforting to people who are not up to leading and following and enjoy the Macarena-like effect of everyone moving all together in the same pattern.
My source for the dance is Frank H. Norman's Complete Dance Instructor (Ottawa, 1914). The author is J. B. McEwen of Glasgow, Scotland. I don't know a lot about either of these gentlemen, but I can offer a few bits of trivia:
- There seems to have been considerable back-and-forth between North America and Europe by dancing masters in this era. Norman's introductory pages note that he was a member, honorary member, or affiliate of dancing organizations in the U.S. and Canada, England, Scotland, and Paris.
- He had been teaching long enough to include a testimonial from the Countess of Aberdeen (wife of the Governor-General of Canada from 1893-1898) for teaching her children back in 1894, and in 1919, he was the master of ceremonies for a ball in honor of the Prince of Wales in Montréal, as reported in the November, 1919, issue of the Buffalo (New York) dance journal, The Two-Step.
- McEwen published at least one book, The Ball Room Exponent and Guide to Fashionable Dancing (Glasgow, c1902), which I do not have a copy of, and by the 1920s had a dancing school associated with the Norwood Ballroom, as may be seen on The Glasgow Story website.
- Like Norman, he boasted international connections; he is quoted as listing himself in his book as “the only Teacher of Dancing in Scotland possessing the British, French, and American Badges of Proficiency.” He turns up in the same November, 1919, issue of The Two-Step in a blurb datelined London, November 5th:
The hesitation waltz is to be the dance of the season in London, in the opinion of J. B. McEwen, dance instructor de luxe, who has just completed his education in the latest dances in Paris and America.
The hesitation dates back eight or ten years in the States, but McEwen has just discovered it, and he thinks it will be all the rage here in a few weeks.