Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Prince Hall Shriners Riding (Doing The Camel Walk)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents information about the Prince Hall Shriners' tradition of "riding" (marching while doing the dance called the "Camel Walk".)

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

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The formal name for the Prince Hall Shriners is "Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine". (A.E.A.O.N.M.S.) This Black fraternal organization are called "Prince Hall Shriners" to distinguish them from the earlier organization of Shriners who are White.

Prince Hall (1735 – 1807) was an African American noted as a tireless abolitionist, for his leadership in the free black community in Boston, and as the founder of Prince Hall Masonry (in 1775). (

The Prince Hall Shriners were founded in 1893.

"The Camel Walk" has been at least informally adopted as a signature group march of the Prince Hall Shriners. The reason for that fraternal organization's adoption of the "Camel Walk" is likely that the "camel" is connected with the Shriners because of the Middle Eastern theme of that organization and their female auxiliary "The Daughters of Isis". As part of that Middle Eastern theme, the members of the Prince Hall Shriners are called "Nobles" & they wear tasseled fezes during their special events. The Prince Hall Shriners' chapters are called "temples" & the terms "oasis" is used for the city and "desert" is used for the state that a specific temple (for instance, Arabia Temple #12, Black Stone Disciples, Oasis of Portsmouth Desert Of Virginia.)

The Prince Hall Shriners’ performance of the Camel Walk dance is called "riding" . A version of the song "Ride The White Horse" appears to be the at least unofficial anthem of the Prince Hall Masons' riding.

Click and for information about the Shriners.

(These videos are presented in chronological order based on the date of their YouTube posting, with the oldest dated videos posted first.)

Warning: The "Ride The White Horse" record that appears to be routinely used for the Shriners' "riding" custom contains the repeated word "b**tch". Although this blog usually doesn't feature any videos that contains profanity, I'm including these videos in the interest of documenting the Prince Hall Shriners tradition of "riding".

Example #1: Shriners- Chicago Camel Walk 2010

palestinenoble1, Uploaded on Oct 5, 2010

Chicago-Palestine #1 A.A.O.N.M.S. First Gala Walk in 26yrs...Bringing it back home.

Example #2: Ahmed Temple #37

Uploaded by Princess314 on Oct 10, 2010
The audience calls in this video such as "I see you [person's name]!", "Alright now!", and "Get it now!" remind me of the responses that are heard at Black Greek lettered step shows and stroll competitions.

Also, one or more person dancing in the center of the circle is a traditional form of African American dances & other African Diaspora dances. That same formation in which a person/persons in the center of the circle format is found in Black children's circle games.

Example #3: Persian Temple No. 46 - 2010 Potentate Ball - Intro (Camel Walk)

Uploaded by smokeyjoesii on Dec 19, 2010
This video also points out some striking similarities between the "riding" processional movement of the Prince Hall Shriners and the "strolling" processional movement of historically Black Greek lettered fraternities and sororitites.

The Prince Hall Shriners were founded in 1893 and Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc (the first university based historically Black Greek lettered organization) was founded in 1906. Therefore, it would be correct to say that those historically Black Greek lettered fraternities are modeled after the Prince Hall Shriners and not vice versa.

Another way in which these organizations resemble each other is their use of call & response chanting. I can't make out what the leader says in the above video, but the response is "46" (the number of this particular Shriners' "chapter").Compare that to Black Greek lettered fraternities'/sororities' signature chants which include call & response chants that are based on the organization's founding date. For instance, members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. have a call & response chant in which the leader of the chanters calls "1 9" and the other chanters respond "0 6" - 1906 being the date that the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity was founded.

I'd love to know if it's common for Prince Hall Shriners & Daughters of Isis to pledge any BGLO fraternity or sorority, and if so, I wonder if one particular fraternity or sorority is most often pledged by those men and those women.

By the way, the women in the video who are dressed in white with white hats are members of the Prince Hall Shriners' female auxiliary, the Daughters of Isis.

Example #4: Golconda Temple No. 24 Nobles camel walking into the formal dinner dance

Uploaded by bks2295 on Mar 7, 2011

Example #5: NOBLES


MrMyPushUps, Uploaded on Mar 18, 2011

Party At The Shriners
Deep South Shriners-PHA (A.E.A.O.N.M.S)

Click for videos of camel walk dance.

Thanks to all the Prince Hall Shriners who are featured in this post. Thanks also to those who wrote the information that I quoted in this post and thanks to the producers of these videos and to their YouTube publishers.

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1 comment:

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