In June 1960, unbeknownst to the rest of the world, one of the most famous songs in history was just about to be released and was on the path to becoming the theme song for the entire decade of the ’60s.
When American singer Chubby Checker’s cover of ‘The Twist’ was released it soared straight to the top of the charts. In fact, the song topped charts in September 1960 and again in January 1962 making it the only song in history to get the number one spot the Hot 100 singles chart in two separate runs – let alone two years apart!
Surprisingly, Chubby Checker’s version was actually a take on the original tune by Hank Ballard, however Hank’s version was released two years earlier in 1958 and only reached #28 on the charts that year. Checker’s version went above and beyond the success of Ballard’s mostly because of the dancing phenomena that came hand in hand with it.
Doing the Twist has been described in the past as putting a cigarette out with both feet while coming out of a shower and wiping your bottom with a towel to the beat. This year, Checker explained to Forbes his opinion on creating the dancing craze describing the moves as “dancing apart to the beat”.
“I just say it’s dancing apart to the beat because we don’t touch each other when we look at each other and do the boogie,” he said. “That’s why it’s caught on the way it has: because of the style of the dance.”
The dance craze was popular with every generation from young to old as the simple twisting on the balls of your feet was easy enough for anyone to do. In fact, lots of kids and teenagers of the day were probably shocked when they caught their parents and even maybe grandparents getting amongst it!
The song took off when it was featured on Dick Clarke’s American Bandstand. The popular pop-music show in America shot the song to stardom with help from Checker’s appearance on The Dick Clarke Show where he lip-synced and danced on live TV.
After years of dances being done by couples and requiring some form of touching, the solo twist was the perfect way to promote a more conservative dance. And still to this day, the twist is popular in film, TV and even real life as it’s hard not to get moving as soon as this catchy tune comes on!
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