There’s a place in France,
Where the naked ladies dance.
There’s a hole in the wall
Where the men watch it all.

Remember that? Or maybe you sung a different version, starting something like this:

There’s a place on Mars
Where the ladies smoke cigars
...

There are any number of children's rhymes based on this melody. Chances are you've sung at least one of them. If you are interested in some of these rhymes, I've noded them under "There is a place in France". Snatches (or more) of this tune also appear in Little Egypt by Oasis, Istanbul, Not Constantinople by They Might Be Giants, Cleopatra, Queen Of Denial by Pam Tillis, Hokus Pokus by Insane Cloun Posse, Whiney Whiney by Shaggy, Take It Off by Ke$ha, and as background music in many movies and cartoons.

While this is sometimes considered a belly dancing tune, it would be more accurate to identify it with 'the hoochy koochy', as it was never used by traditional belly dancers. It might also be associated, in one's mind, with snake charmers or Egypt in general.

Sol Bloom claimed to have been the first to set down the melody*, as the theme to the 'Cairo' section of the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. The melody has been used in a number of compositions, but perhaps the best known lyric is Streets Of Cairo, or The Poor Little Country Maid (Youtube), written by James Thornton (1895). His wife, Bonnie Thornton, helped boost its popularity by singing it on the vaudeville stage. Here are Thornton's lyrics:

I will sing you a song,
And it won't be very long,
'Bout a maiden sweet,
And she never would do wrong,
Ev'ryone said she was pretty,
She was not long in the city,
All alone, oh, what a pity,
Poor little maid.

Chorus
She never saw the streets of Cairo,
On the Midway she had never strayed,
She never saw the kutchy, kutchy,
Poor little country maid.

She went out one night,
Did this innocent divine,
With a nice young man,
Who invited her to dine,
Now he's sorry that he met her,
And he never will forget her,
In the future he'll know better,
Poor little maid.

Chorus

She was engaged,
As a picture for to pose,
To appear each night,
In abbreviated clothes,
All the dudes were in a flurry,
For to catch her they did hurry,
One who caught her now is sorry,
Poor little maid.

Chorus

She was much fairer far than Trilby,
Lots of more men sorry will be,
If they don't try to keep way from this
Poor little country maid.


* It may have much older roots; see this and this for more info.

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