Willie Perry, Jr. wrote the lyrics for the original around January 1998 and recorded his performance of the original version of the "Casper Slide Part 1" in January 1998. It was titled the Casper Slide as opposed to its later title of Cha Cha Slide. The song was heavily inspired by the Chicago stepping movement. Around June 12, 1999, Perry recorded a second version of the song, entitled "Casper Slide Part 2," at the home studio of Fred Johnson with the help of Hollywood Scott, band leader for the Platinum Band. Perry recorded and released the song at his own expense and manufactured copies and distributed them with the help of Gardner Douglas ("Cisco"), owner of the Cisco's Music World record stores in Chicago, Illinois. The song was played at various night clubs and was used by Perry's nephew, a fitness trainer at Bally Total Fitness Health Club in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, as the music for a step aerobics class.
Willie Perry enlisted the help of M.O.B. Music Publishing (Men On Business) to produce, edit, and engineer the new version of the song "Cha Cha Slide". Men On Business also produced several other accompanying songs to produce the entire Slide Album. Willie Perry and Men On Business licensed the Slide Album to Universal Records and it was released September 19, 2000. Once it was Universal's project, "we made some instructional 'Cha-Cha Slide' dance videos and distributed them to clubs," said Senior VP of Urban Promotion Michael Horton. "We also promoted the song at various black functions, such as homecoming events at black colleges." The song then made its way to R&B/hip hop station WGCI-FM in DJ Casper's hometown of Chicago. In 2001, the following year, the dance caught on around Canada and the US, where urban contemporaryradio stations (and later mobile DJs) played the song continuously, particularly in Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Arkansas, Memphis, and Detroit. It is also very big in move-a-thons across North America.