Idiom: Knees up
OED definition: A lively party or gathering
Example: We’re having a knees up on Friday, you should come!
This idiom comes from the song ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’, which was first oficially released in 1938. The song had, however, been popular for some time before that and is said to have been sung on 11th November 1918 to celebrate the end of the First World War. Since then it was often sung in pubs throughout England, but was particularly associated with the Cockney culture in East London. Elsie and Doris Walters frequently performed their own version during the Second World War.
Due to the lively dance that very quickly became associated with the song, the expression ‘Knees up’ came to refer to a lively party, with usually included drinking, dancing and possibly singing.
The song can still be heard today being chanted by West Ham United football supporters. The tune has also frequently been used, with modified lyrics, by fans from different football clubs. It is also believed to have been the inspiration for the Sherman Brothers’ song ‘Step in Time’ which was written for the Disney film Mary Poppins. According to Richard Sherman, the idea for the song came when he witnessed several people at Disney Studios being taught the dance to the original ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’ song.
Hear the original song
And the Mary Poppins’ variation