Tapping Into History / Harriet Butcher


Mar 2012 / Boulder Weekly 

Courtesy of Ellie Sciarra


Eighty-eight-year-old Harriet Butcher vividly recalls Sammy Davis Jr. tap dancing on the stage of the Roxy Theater in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. Butcher takes a deep breath and closes her eyes as she recalls swooning over the legendary performer.

“He tore up the show; that was big time,” she recalls.

Sharing the stage for dress rehearsals, Butcher also sang for Davis that day, and he encouraged her to stay committed to her art. She has. She continues to.

Butcher’s was an artistic childhood, spent mostly in the Five Points neighborhood. Five Points was Denver’s first predominantly African- American community, and during the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, “the Points” was the place to be for all things music, especially jazz.

Tap dance was part of the culture too, from attaching metal to school shoes to watching adolescents drop into impromptu street performances.

“In those days, everybody danced,” Butcher recalls. “At a national level, you don’t hear that much about tap dance, but it was really a part of our life. Tap was everywhere.      READ MORE