Whether they’re taught in dance classes or used to spice up social gatherings, there’s no denying that popular dances play an important role in our lives. While traditional ballroom dances are still popular, new styles of movement have emerged to complement popular music and fads. The resulting genres of dance are surprisingly diverse, and their popularity is often reflected in the world’s pop culture.
While WWI left little room for innovation in dancing, the 1920’s brought a new wave of styles, including American Jazz that caused a revolution on dance floors. The Charleston dance – a series of elegant moves that mimicked horse movements – became a major hit in ballrooms and clubs, reaching England by 1925. The quickstep, a lighter form of ballroom dancing, also gained in popularity during this time. It evolved from the slow foxtrot with the addition of steps from the Charleston and the jitterbug.
The rise of rock ’n roll in the 1950s saw the birth of new dance fads that shocked parents and delighted teenagers. From the Mashed Potato to the Watusi and even the Twist – a solo dance that involved gyrations reminiscent of a teenager blowing smoke out of their cigarette – these new dances were accompanied by music that was loud, rocking and fun.
Hip hop created another dance fad in the 1990’s, with songs like MC Hammer’s “You Can’t Touch This” and the “Crank That” creating huge dance parties that saw people of all ages cranking their arms up and down while strutting their stuff. It’s not so easy to create a dance craze today, but the popularity of TikTok and its users may provide inspiration for a new generation of choreographers.