Chubby Checker ushered in an era of bobby-soxers swiveling their hips to the beat. The song hit No. 1 in both 1960 and 1962, but people had been singing about doing the Twist since the 1930s. In his 'Winin' Boy Blues,' ragtime performer Jelly Roll Morton used it as a euphemism for sex. The Twist dance craze of the '60s, which began when Chubby Checker performed on 'American Bandstand,' spawned similar fads like the Jerk, the Pony, the Watusi and the Mashed Potato, though none were as popular.
Disco spawned a host of sexy dance fads, but like Studio 54 and Quaaludes, the Hustle has become synonymous with the era. The Grammy-winning instrumental song 'The Hustle' was a No. 1 hit for Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony in 1975, and ignited the disco line dancing trend. But it was 1978's disco epic, 'Saturday Night Fever,' that brought the dance to the masses, when John Travolta donned his snappy white leisure suit and did the hip-shaking Hustle dance with a gang of glittery dancing machines.
Latin music gets to shine in the pop spotlight now and again (think Pitbull and Shakira). But in the summer of 1996, pretty much everyone on planet Earth was doing this dance number, from fifth graders to grandmothers. The mind-numbingly repetitive track, performed by Spanish duo Los Del Rio and remixed by the Bayside Boys, is about a woman who gets a wandering eye when her BF is out of the town. The dance moves are so simple, a four-year-old could do it, which was probably a big part of the appeal.
Originating in the early '80s in Washington, DC, moshing came out of the hardcore punk scene -- at shows, people would bang into each other while slam dancing. In the early '90s, moshing became closely associated with grunge as frustrated suburban kids everywhere got a load of moshing, head-banging, stage-diving and crowd-surfing via Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and Pearl Jam's 'Evenflow.' It became ubiquitous at rock shows and festivals like Lollapalooza after that, though bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam decried the practice when injuries started happening.
Hip-hop has created a host of dance fads, from Fat Joe's 'Lean Back' to the Cabbage Patch to b-boy moves like the Worm. Soulja Boy went from being a regular teenager from Mississippi to an Internet superstar thanks to his song 'Crank That (Soulja Boy)' and the video that featured the dance moves (performed by the likes of Bow Wow and Omarion). Once the song became one of the summer of 2007's biggest hits, everyone seemed to be doing it (even Ellen!). The lyrics are actually rather gross, though.
Perfect for the aerobicized, spandex-clad times, this dance was all the rage in the late '80s. Most notably, the dance was featured in the video for MC Hammer's monster hit, 'U Can't Touch This.' The Hammer, in his low-crotch harem pants, and a coterie of cute fly girls got busy with their bad selves and kids around the world followed suit (except maybe in regards to those pants). Though Vanilla Ice also kicked the Running Man in 'Ice Ice Baby,' Bobby Brown was arguably the lord of this dance (see: 'Every Little Step').
The Village People's ode to Young Men's Clubs of America became a smash hit in 1979, and throughout the '80s -- no school dance, wedding or bar mitvah was complete without this peppy disco anthem. The only real moves are the hand signs (for those of you too young to know, you form the letters Y, M, C and A with your hands), and the rest of the song is mostly taken up by marching around and waiting impatiently for the next set of letters. These days it frequently plays at baseball games during the seventh inning stretch.
In 2009, a couple of L.A. teenagers calling themselves the New Boyz put out a track called 'You're a Jerk,' along with a video showing their personal dance style, called Jerkin'. The dance itself consists mainly of moving your legs in and out (plus other moves like the 'Reject,' 'Spongebob' and 'Pindrop,' if you want to Google). Jerkin' crews like the New Boyz, UCLA Jerk Kings and Action Figure$ were also known for their distinctive style, mixing skate and hip-hop culture, rocking skinny jeans, bright colours and Chuck Taylors.
Michael Jackson first performed what is probably the most iconic dance of the 20th century on the televised special 'Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever' in 1983. It electrified the world audience, and subsequently became MJ's signature 'Billie Jean' dance step. The Moonwalk is a "popping" move that makes you look as if you're walking forwards when you're moving backwards, and still gets rocked by MJ devotees like Usher and Justin Timberlake (and fun uncles at family events).