A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 06, 2019
“Different strokes for different folks”

"Different strokes for different folks” means that people have different styles and tastes, or different ways of doing something. What’s good (or works) for one person might not be good for another person.

The saying first became popular among African Americans. “As a jitterbug friend told me the other day, ‘one has different strokes for different folks’” was printed in the Philadelphia (PA) Tribune on May 19, 1945. “Em Tunnell, on the coaching staff of the New York Giants, has a saying, ‘Different strokes for different folks’” was printed in The Daily Register (Red Bank, NJ) on March 1, 1966. “On knockout punches in the Liston, Floyd Patterson and Karl Mildenberger fights: ‘I got different strokes for different folks’” was said by American boxer Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali and printed in many newspapers on November 11, 1966.

The song “Everyday People” (1968) by Sly and the Family Stone contains the line “different strokes for different folks” and made the saying nationally popular. The American television sitcom Diff’rent Strokes (1978-1985) was set in New York City.


Oxford Reference
different strokes for different folks
Proverbial saying, late 20th century, meaning that different ways of doing something are appropriate for different people (the saying is of US origin, and strokes here means, ‘comforting gestures of approval’). In 1974 an advertisement for Volkswagen parodied this saying with the words, ‘Different Volks for different folks.’

Wikipedia: Everyday People
“Everyday People” is a 1968 song by Sly and the Family Stone. It was the first single by the band to go to number one on the Soul singles chart and the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. It held that position, on the Hot 100, for four weeks from February 15 to March 14, 1969, and is remembered as a popular song of the 1960s. Billboard ranked it as the No. 5 song of 1969. As with most of Sly and the Family Stone’s songs, Sly Stone was credited as the sole songwriter.
(...)
Sly’s sister Rose Stone sings bridging sections that mock the futility of people hating each other for being tall, short, rich, poor, fat, skinny, white, black, or anything else. The bridges of the song contain the line “different strokes for different folks,” which became a popular catchphrase in 1969 (and inspired the name of the later television series, Diff’rent Strokes). Rose’s singing ends each part of the bridge with the words: “And so on, and so on, and scooby dooby doo”.

Wikipedia: Diff’rent Strokes
Diff’rent Strokes is an American sitcom that aired on NBC from November 3, 1978, to May 4, 1985, and on ABC from September 27, 1985, to March 7, 1986. The series stars Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges as Arnold and Willis Jackson, two African-American boys from Harlem who are taken in by a rich white Park Avenue businessman and widower named Phillip Drummond (Conrad Bain) and his daughter Kimberly (Dana Plato), for whom their deceased mother previously worked.

19 May 1945, Philadelphia (PA) Tribune, “Reading’s Readings: Congressman Powell” by Samuel H. Reading, pg. 5, col. 1:
Yes, I realize “times have changed” and that, as a jitterbug friend told me the other day, “one has different strokes for different folks.”

1 March 1966, The Daily Register (Red Bank, NJ), “Spotting Sports” by Hy Cunningham, pg. 12, col. 1:
Em Tunnell, on the coaching staff of the New York Giants, has a saying, “Different strokes for different folks.”
(American football player and coach Emlen Tunnell, 1924-1975.—ed.)

24 September 1966, Daily News (New York, NY), “Young Ideas” by Dick Young, pg. 31, col. 1:
It’s like Em Tunnell says, different strokes for different folks.
(Spoken by Allie Sherman, head coach of the New York Giants.—ed.)

11 November 1966, The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, MA), “Cassius Concenrtrates on Training, Regilding Tarnished Image” by Darrell Mack (UPI), pg. 23, col. 2:
On knockout punches in the Liston, Floyd Patterson and Karl Mildenberger fights: “I got different strokes for different folks.”
(Spoken by American boxer Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali, 1942-2016.—ed.)

OCLC WorldCat record
Different strokes for different folks ; How come?
Author: Monk Higgins
Publisher: Chicago, Ill. : Chess, [1967?]
Edition/Format: Music : 45 rpm : No Linguistic Content

OCLC WorldCat record
Different strokes for different folks; an analysis of the urban lower class Negro’s personality and culture as revealed in his music, rhythm and blues.
Author: Michael William Jacobs
Publisher: 1969.
Dissertation: M.S.W. Jane Addams Graduate School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago Circle
Edition/Format: Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript Archival Material : English

Urban Dictionary
different strokes for different folks
An expression meaning that everyone has their own way of doing things or approaching life. Often said in disagreement with how someone else has done things, but can also be said in a neutral or even positive fashion.
(rolling eyes) “He proposed to Susie through a casual email?!? Well, I guess different strokes for different folks.”
#more than one way to skin a cat#personal preferences#idiosyncrasies#style#own method
by GarthF December 01, 2005

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Monday, May 06, 2019 • Permalink