After the flight of the Wright Brothers in 1903, society was increasingly fascinated with the new aeroplanes. Dance music and dancers followed the fad, with quite a few "Aeroplane Waltzes" being composed and at least two different dances by that name written. Philadelphia dance teacher and writer Albert W. Newman published his own Aeroplane Waltz in his 1914 manual, Dances of To-day, suggesting that it be danced to the 1910 song "Come Josephine in my Flying Machine," though any other fast waltz will do. The chorus to the song begins:
Come Josephine in my flying machine,
Going up, she goes! up she goes!
I've included a brief snippet of the song for reference; click to play:
Mr. Newman's dance, which was dedicated to the wealthy Philadelphian William P. Baltz, is a simple sequence dance that was also included in the 1914 compilation Dance Mad published in St. Louis by F. Leslie Clendenen. Both Newman and Clendenen considered the dance particularly appropriate for children; given how silly the song sounds to modern ears, this is probably still valid advice. My experience is that few adults can perform it for long without laughing.The dancers start side by side facing along line of dance, joined hands together in front. Steps are given for the gentleman; the lady dances opposite.
Mr. Newman's Aeroplane Waltz
1b Glide left foot forward (1); raise right foot in front (2); hop on left foot leaving right foot raised (3)
1b Repeat same leading on right foot
(dancers face each other in normal closed ballroom position)
1b Glide left foot to side (1); draw right foot up to it (2,3)
1b Repeat glide, with a more exaggerated step and a pronounced dip
4b Turn to the left or the right with the Long Boston or simply waltz
By waltz, Newman means the "new waltz" of the late 19th and early 20th century, with the partners stepping forward-side-close/back-side-close, rather than the older rotary waltz. The Long Boston, also known as the One Step Boston or Cradle Boston, involves stepping back on one foot with a bend (1), rising up on the ball of that foot (2), and dropping the heel (3), then transferring the weight to the other foot with the same sequence; repeat. Turning to the right (with the gentleman's left foot back)or left (with the right foot back) is accomplished by shifting the back foot slightly clockwise or counter-clockwise each time the weight is transferred. This makes for a slow, four-bar pivot turn which doesn't travel, though it's possible to be aggressive about it and make a full turn every two bars. But it is not a series of traveling pivots.
The dance is intended to simulate the experience of being in an aeroplane, which does nothing to reduce the giggle-factor. Newman helpfully explains that
"This glide and dip represents the aeroplane going over a mountain top and down into the valley."
Clendenen adds that in the turn,
"the body should sway slightly from side to side, to represent the unsteadiness of the aeroplane."
and that the entire dance should be performed with "an extreme lightness and most gracefully."
The sheet music for "Come Josephine" is available online at the marvelous Lester S. Levy Collection at Johns Hopkins Unversity, for those who would like to match tune and dance.