On August 1, the CDHP interview team met with Reggio “The Hoofer” McLaughlin at Old Town School of Folk Music, where he has taught tap since the 1990s. A proud Chicago native, he was introduced to tap dance at Jackson Park, where his sister was taking lessons. “It was love at first sight.” As a teenager, he paid for his own lessons with Jimmy Payne Sr.
Reggio began his dance career on Chicago’s subway platforms where he learned creative improvisation and came to love the close proximity of his audience. Shortly thereafter, he became acquainted with tap icon and original member of the Copasetics, Ernest “Brownie” Brown, through a family friend. Brownie and Reggio became dance partners. Through this partnership, Brownie imparted to Reggio history and choreography, like the “Chair Dance,” from his early days in vaudeville with Charles “Cookie” Cook.
Reggio is now passing on that legacy to his students. “You choose it, but at some point, it’s choosing you.”