Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Several years ago, researchers at Arizona State University developed a computer software that could recognize dance moves from normal video footage. They developed the system in hopes that it could be used to synchronise background music or stage lighting to an improvised dance performance, or to go into a dance-based computer game. First, the video footage is fed into a computer which removes the background to create a pair of white-on-black silhouettes. The computer converts the silhouettes into numerical coordinates. The system then goes through its library of twenty modern dance poses to identify the dance moves. It's an interesting idea for sure, but I think they need to expand their library of dance moves. I've compiled a list of just a few of the novelty and fad dances popular over the last century. For those times when you just gotta shake it out, do a jig, boogie woogie, do the hootenanny hoedown, mambo like a madman. Go for it! Only, do with uninhibited abandon like no one's watching, and if they are... dance harder, longer, wilder. Sweat! Sweat! Sweat! I also suggest trying out some new moves...


The cancan originated in working-class ballrooms of Montparnasse in Paris around 1830. It's a music hall dance performed by chorus line dancers lifting up their skirts, and kicking up their heels.


The "Cake Walk" is a pre-ragtime dance form popular until about 1904. It originated in the South among slaves, performed at get-togethers on plantations. At the end of the performance the winning couple usually won an enormous cake.


The Charleston originated from a 1923 tune called "The Charleston" from the musical Runnin' Wild and was a popular dance craze in the 1920's.

black bottom

Black Bottom was another dance popular in the 1920's flapper era, originating from New Orleans.

lindy hop

The Lindy Hop was named after Charles Lindbergh's Atlantic crossing in 1927. It evolved in Harlem and was popular through the 1930's. It is a fusion of jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston; also part of the swing dance family.


Jitterbug is a type of swing dance that became popular in the 1930's. It became a dance craze in England during WWII when American soldiers brought it overseas. Jitterbug is a slang word for alcoholics suffering from the "jitters", and later referred to swing dancers who danced with uncontrollable craziness.

the jive

The Jive is a dance style from the 1940's that is an uninhibited version of the Jitterbug. Jive is slang for glib or foolish talk.

bunny hop

The Bunny Hop was a novelty dance created in 1952 at a San Francisco high school. It's a variation on the congo line dance.

hand jive

The Hand Jive is a dance associated with rock and roll and rhythm and blues music of the 1950's. It involves a complicated pattern of hand moves and claps at different parts of the body.

the madison

The Madison is a line dance that became popular in the late 1950's to mid-1960's. It was first created in Columbus, Ohio in 1957, and became widely popular after The Buddy Deane Show showcased the dance in 1960.

the twist

The Twist was a worldwide dance craze in the 1960's inspired by rock and roll music, specifically Hank Ballard's b-side track "The Twist" released in 1959. The song was re-released in 1960 by Chubby Checker and became a #1 hit.

the chicken

The Chicken was a popular rhythm and blues dance in the 1950's in which dancers flapped their arms and kicked back their feet in an imitation of a chicken. It was primarily used as a change of pace step while doing the Twist.

the frug

The Frug was a dance craze from the 1960's that evolved from the Chicken. As dancers doing the Twist and Chicken became increasingly tired, they would start doing less work until only their hips were moving. They then started making up arm movements for the dance, which prompted the birth of The Swim, The Monkey, The Dog, The Watusi, and The Jerk. It's also sometimes known as The Surf, Big Bea, and The Thunderbird.

the monkey

A novelty dance that became popular in 1963 with the release of the songs "The Monkey Time" by Major Lance and "Mickey's Monkey" by The Miracles.

the watusi

The Watusi is a solo dance that became popular among the surf/beach sub-culture in the early 1960's.

the hitch hike

The Hitch Hike was a dance craze that started in 1963 with Marvin Gaye's hit "Hitch Hike".

the boogaloo

The Boogaloo (or Bugalú) is a genre of Latin music and dance that was popular in the 1960's. It originated among Latino teenagers in New York City, and became mainstream through American Bandstand.

electric boogaloo

The Electric Boogaloo is a style of funk dance and hip hop dance that is a combination of the latin dance Bugalú and popping. It is the signature style of the 1970's dance group the Electric Boogaloos.


Disco has its roots in the dance clubs in the mid-1960's to late 1970's among blacks, hispanics, and gays of New York City and Philadelphia. It was shaped by nightclub DJs playing a mix of funk, soul, and pop in discothèques.

the robot

The Robot (or Mannequin) is an illusionary dance style that attempts to imitate a dancing robot. It was originated by Charles Washington in the late 1960's, and later gained further fame after The Jacksons performed the dance for their song "Dancing Machine".

the hustle

The Hustle originally was a catchall name for several disco dances which were popular in the 1970's. It eventually came to refer to a unique partner dance done in nightclubs. It was made famous by the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever.

the ymca

The YMCA dance originated from a song of the same name by the Village People. According to Dick Clark, the dance was first performed on American Bandstand in 1979.

chicken dance

The Chicken Dance is a fad dance from the 1950's made popular by an oom-pah song composed by Swiss accordion player Werner Thomas called "Vogerltanz" (Little Bird Dance or Birdie Dance). The dance was introduced to Americans in 1981 at an Oktoberfest in Tulsa, Oklahoma by the Heilbronn Band from Germany. They originally wanted to demonstrate the dance in a duck costume, only they couldn't find one so a local TV station donated a chicken costume, and prompting the name "Chicken Dance".

the running man

The Running Man was created by Paula Abdul in 1987 for Janet Jackson's Control concert-tour.

the electric slide

The Electric Slide is a line dance that was popular during the late 1980's and early 1990's. It's still a favorite at weddings.


Vogue (or Voguing) is a highly stylized modern dance characterized by photo model-like poses with angular, linear and rigid arm, leg, and body movements. It was originally popularized in the late 1980's in the inner-city club scenes, and gained mainstream attention when it was featured in Madonna's video for her song "Vogue".

images via life, sixtiescity

1 comment:

  1. thank you for the information!-it was useful in a project that i am working on