Novelty and fad dances

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Dancing Twist, East Berlin, 17 May 1964

Novelty and fad dances are dances which are typically characterized by a short burst of popularity. Some of them may get longer-lasting life.[citation needed] They are also called dance fads or dance crazes.

Fad dances[edit]

As the pop music market exploded in the late 1950s, dance fads were commercialized and exploited. From the 1950s to the 1970s, new dance fads appeared almost every week. Many were popularized (or commercialized) versions of new styles or steps created by African-American dancers who frequented the clubs and discothèques in major U.S. cities like New York, Philadelphia and Detroit. Among these were the Madison, "The Swim", the "Mashed Potato", "The Twist", "The Frug" (pronounced /frʊɡ/), "The Watusi", "The Shake" and "The Hitch hike". Many 1950s and 1960s dance crazes had animal names, including "The Chicken" (not to be confused with the Chicken Dance), "The Pony" and "The Dog".

In 1965, the Mexican-American group Cannibal and the Headhunters had a hit with the 1962 Chris Kenner song Land of a Thousand Dances which included the names of such dances. One list of Fad Dances compiled in 1971 named over 90 dances.[1] Standardized versions of dance moves were published in dance and teen magazines, often choreographed to popular songs. Songs such as "The Loco-Motion" were specifically written with the intention of creating a new dance and many more pop hits, such as "Mashed Potato Time" by Dee Dee Sharp, were written to cash in on recent successful novelties.

In the early 1970s the disco spawned a succession of dance fads including the Bump, the Hustle, and the YMCA. This continued in the 1980s with the popular song "Walk like an Egyptian", in the 1990s with the "Macarena", in the 2000s with "The Ketchup Song" and in the 2010s with "Gangnam Style". Contemporary sources for dance crazes include music videos and movies.

There are fad dances which are meant to be danced individually as solo, others are partner dances, and yet others are danced in groups. Some of them were of freestyle type, i.e., there were no particular step patterns and they were famed by the style of the dance movement (Twist, Shake, Swim, Pony, Hitch hike). Only some have continued to the present day, sometimes only as the name of a step (Suzie Q, Shimmy) or of a style (Mashed Potato) in a recognized dance. Fad dances are in fashion at the time of their popularity. They come to be associated with a specific time period, and can evoke particular forms of nostalgia when revived.

Notable novelty and fad dances[edit]


Year Dance
1909 The Grizzly Bear
1926 Charleston
1930s Duckwalk
1933 Carioca
1936 Suzie Q
1937 The Lambeth Walk
1940 Thunder Clap
1941 Conga
mid-1940s Hokey cokey


Year Dance
1950s Bomba
1950s The Chicken
1952 Bunny Hop
1957 Sock hop
1957 The Meatstick
1958 Madison
1958 The Stroll
1959 Hully Gully


Year Dance
1960 Shimmy
1960 Twist
1961 The Chicken Walk
1961 Pony
1962 The Gravy (On My Mashed Potato)
1962 The Loco-Motion
1962 Martian Hop
1962 Mashed Potato
1962 The Monster Mash
1962 The Swim
1962 Watusi
1963 Chicken Dance
1963 Hitch hike
1963 Monkey
1964 The Frug
1964 Jerk
1965 The Freddie
1965 Limbo
1966 Batusi
1966 The Shake


Year Dance
1970s Sprinkler
1971 Penguin
1972 Hustle
1973 Time Warp
1975 Bump
1975 Tragedy
mid-1970s Grinding
1976 Car Wash-Rose Royce
1976 Electric Slide
1976 Robot
1977 The Running Man
1978 Y.M.C.A.-The Village People
1979 Little Apple


Year Dance
1980s Moonwalk-Michael Jackson
1980 Cotton-Eyed Joe
1981 Harlem Shake
1981 Agadoo (aka Agadou)
1981 Superman (aka Gioca Jouer)
1982 The Safety-Men Without Hats
1983 Lambada
1983 Thriller
1986 The Hunch
1986 Wig Wam Bam
1987 Cabbage Patch
1988 Da Butt-E.U.


Year Dance
1990s The Carlton-Alfonso Riberio
1990s Locomía
1990 Boot Scootin' Boogie
1990 Do the Bartman-Nancy Cartwright
1990 Hammertime-MC Hammer
1990 The Humpty-Digital Underground
1990 Vogue-Madonna
1991 The Urkel-Jaleel White
1992 Achy Breaky Heart (Line dance)-Billy Ray Cyrus
1992; 1994; 1996 Macarena-Los del Rio
1994 Saturday Night-Whigfield
1996 Tic, Tic Tac
1997 Thizzle
1998 La Bomba (not to be confused with Bomba)-Azul Azul
1998 The Roger Rabbit
1998 Tootsee Roll


Year Dance
2000 Cha Cha Slide-DJ Casper
2001 Caramelldansen-Caramell
2002 Algorithm March
2002 The Ketchup Song-Las Ketchup
2003 Dutty Wine
2004 Lean Back-Terror Squad
2005 Letkajenkka (aka Letkajenka, Letkiss, Letka-Enka)
2006 Chicken Noodle Soup-Webstar
2006 Daggering
2006 Laffy Taffy-D4L
2006 Lean wit It, Rock wit It (aka Snap dance)-Dem Franchize Boyz
2006 Shoulder Lean-Young Dro
2007 Crank That-Soulja Boy
2007 Cupid Shuffle-Cupid
2007 Dougie-Lil Wil
2008 Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)-Beyonce
2009 Jerkin'
2009 Stanky Legg-GS Boyz


Year Dance
2010 Wobble-V.I.C.
2011 The Creep-The Lonely Island
2012 Gangnam Style-PSY
2012 The Smurf
2013 Twerking-Miley Cyrus
2014 Nae Nae
2015 Dab
2015 Hit the Quan-iLoveMemphis
2015 Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)-Silento
2016 Gwara Gwara
2017 Shoot-BlocBoy JB
2018 The Floss


Year Dance

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Encyclopedia of Social Dance. Albert and Josephine Butler. 1971 & 1975. Albert Butler Ballroom Dance Service. New York, NY. Table of Contents in 1971 edition.

External links[edit]