Get down and boogie: Popular dance crazes of the 1960s

Take a trip down memory lane with these classic dances. Source: Getty.

To celebrate Travel at 60’s upcoming Sixties Fest on Moreton Island, we’re revisiting our favourite 1960s-themed stories, quizzes and blogs from the past few years.

Here are some of the dance moves we’re looking forward to breaking out again at our DJ-hosted gala evening! Learn more about this special holiday event here, or read on for a trip down memory lane…

The 1960s was a time when counter culture gripped the world and people began to collectively embrace a more free thinking way of living. Many of these changes were most evident in the changing music of the day and with new music came new dances, many of which took the world by storm.

Many of the popular dances of the decade were inspired and named after a song, leading to some hilarious moves some people would rather forget! Others, however, still live on and are regularly pulled out at parties even today. Let’s take a look back at some of these classic dances together.

The Twist

This dance involved twisting your lower body and kicking your legs while your arms moved from side to side in front of you. It was inspired by the 1959 song of the same name by musician, Chubby Checker. It was an enormous hit back in the day and is beloved around the world today.

The Jerk

This dance move was named after the jerky actions of people’s arms as they throw them above their head one at a time. Some people even spiced up the dance by clicking their fingers or adding in some footwork. In 1964, The Larks released their song ‘The Jerk’ which encouraged the dance fad even more around the world. This was then followed by songs that jumped on the dance bandwagon like ‘Cool Jerk’ by the Capitols, ‘Jenny Lee, Do the Jerk with Me’ by Bobby Fuller and ‘Come on Do the Jerk’ by The Miracles.

The Watusi

This dance craze was actually inspired by the 1950 hit film King Solomon’s Mines, its sequel, Watusi and the elaborate dances of the African Tutsi people. In 1962, ‘Wah-Watusi’ by The Orlons was released and the dance instantly became a hit with everyone.

The Swim

In 1964, the world was gifted with a simple dance that swept the nation. Bobby Freeman told people everywhere to ‘C’mon and Swim’ with his dance that was literally just swimming on the dance floor. To mix it up, some people would throw in the pinched nose and arm up in the air dance move or even the classic treading water move. The best part about this dance was you didn’t need a lot of speed or skill to do any of these super easy swimming motions so even those with no musical talent could join in.

The Pony

Chubby Checker came back again after ‘The Twist’ to show the world his newest dance move, ‘The Pony’. Unlike other dances in the ’60s, this one required a partner although there was no touching at all between the two. It was more of a chase as both dancers galloped like a horse around the dance floor. It was a fairly high energy dance that the public fell in love with the second it was released.

The Hitch Hike

Marvin Gaye’s 1963 smash Motown hit, ‘Hitch Hike’ inspired this dance craze that was one of the most simple of its time. Simply hold your thumb out, wave it three times over your left shoulder, then point to the left and repeat on the right ride. It was easy enough for just about anyone to catch onto which is probably why is became so popular on dance floors around the world.

How many of these dances do you know? Do you still pull out these moves today? Let us know in the comments below!

Feeling nostalgic for this lively decade? Join the Starts at 60 community on Moreton Island next May! We’ll be touring the island by day, feeding the dolphins at sunset, and celebrating all things 1960s by night! Learn more here.

Leave your comment

Please sign in to post a comment.
Retrieving conversation…
Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up