From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Buffalo Gals was a traditional song, written down and published as Lubly Fan in 1844 by the blackface minstrel John Hodges, who performed as "Cool White". It was widely popular throughout the United States, and minstrels altered the lyrics to suit the local audience, so it might be performed as "New York Gals" or "Boston Gals". Thus the best-known version is named after Buffalo, New York, rather than the buffalo herd animal; it's also unrelated to the Buffalo Soldier.
- Buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight?
- Come out tonight, Come out tonight?
- Buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight,
- And dance by the light of the moon.
The English singing game "Pray, Pretty Miss" may have been an inspiration for the lyric, according to Frank Brown in Collection of North Carolina Folklore. The tune is remminiscent of "Im Grunewald, im Grunewald ist Holzauktion", a music hall song from Germany.
A 1944 recording titled "Dance with Dolly" became a hit in the United States.
The song figures prominently in the 1946 film "It's a Wonderful Life."
Buffalo Gals is also the title of a novel by Ursula K. Le Guin.