How to do the twist

Last week, I bumped into a dance video of that popular moonwalk. Not performed by Michael Jackson this time, but by Bill Bailey. If you follow my facebook page, you probably have seen this movie. It made me think about other popular dance styles or typical dance moves that ruled the dancefloor back in time. Here are a few popular ones that lasted from the 1920s until the 1960s including some movies that captured those lovely vintage dance styles!

The Charleston

This popular upbeat 1920s dance was named after the city Charleston in South Carolina. The most important dance moves probably find its origin in a African American dance called “Juba”. The typical Charleston rhythm was popularized in 1923 when composer James P. Johnson composed the song: The Charleston. It became one of the most important dance hits of the 1920s. Peak years of the Charleston dance were the mid-1920s.

The Black Bottom

This dance was originally founded by African Americans. However, it became popular in the 1920s especially under flappers. This dance became even more popular by Ziegfeld Follies star Ann Pennington, who performed this dance in a Broadway show. In the end, this dance topped the Charleston when it comes to popularity.

The Swing

This dance was originally founded in Harlem in the early 1920s. It refers to the swing style of Jazz music. The 1930s and 1940s were THE Swing eras. However, the swing craze also continued in the 1950s. There were a lot of variations of this dance style. The most popular one was the Lindy Hop Swing, which was a combination of jazz, tap, breakaway, and Charleston. Other popular swing styles were for example the West Coast Swing, Jive, Boogie Woogie and the Balboa.

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Moving on the 1950s where another major Swing dance style was born: Rockabilly. The term rockabilly was a mashup of rock (from rock and roll) and hillbilly music (used to refer to country music). Rockabilly was one of the first Rock and Roll styles, which was founded in the early 1950s. This dance style was fast, very fast. Two important characteristics are the anti-clockwise circular motion and there was no back-step (which is usually one of the basic steps in other Swing dance styles).

The Twist

Last but not least: The Twist! This dance was inspired by Rock and Roll music. The Twist was the dance craze of the 1960s. Its origin is found in an African American dance called “wringin and twistin”. Traces of this dance go way back to the 1890s. However, the world wide Twist craze started in the early 1960s. Popularity also brought critics. Back in those times, some people felt this dance was “too provocative”. Imagine that… In 2012 a world record was set when Chubby Checker performed “The Twist” in Florida, in front of a crowd of ca. 4000 people who twisted along with him.

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My personal favorites of the above mentioned dance styles are The Twist and the Charleston. In the 1920s there would be no need to go to the gym, because that Charleston would definitely keep you fit. And If I were alive in the 1960s, I would buy “The Twist” on vinyl and twist-till-I-drop would totally be my motto.

Check out examples of all the dance styles below!

1. Do the Charleston
This movie clip is from tje 1950s. However, that Charleston dance (including the popular Charleston tune) is totally covered in here…


2. Show that Black Bottom | Late 1920s


3. Swing the night away…the not-for-beginners edition
The Lindy hop swing dance performed in one of the most popular scenes of the movie Hellzapoppin’| 1941


4. They will rock you.
Or at least impress you with their rockabilly dance skills.
This rockabilly dance style also falls under the category: might-have-to-practice-this-a-few-times

Rip it Up – Bill Haley & The Comets


5. Twist till you drop.
You will hear the most popular twist song of all time by Chubby Checker.
This movie includes original dance scenes of the 60s and also scenes of popular Hollywood movies.

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