Popular dances are a fascinating cultural phenomenon, encompassing an entire range of styles and genres from around the world. Some are short-lived and disappear into the ether, while others have endured through decades of reinventions and still remain relevant today.
Roaring ’20s Charleston
The Charleston was one of the first dances to emerge from the decade that would come to be known as the “roaring 20s” – an era defined by underground excesses brought on by prohibition. The dance was inspired by a song from the 1923 Broadway musical “Runnin’ Wild,” composed by James P. Johnson, and is characterized by a flapping arm and leg movement that was a hallmark of flapper culture.
1960s Hippie Spin
A psychedelic music festival favorite, the hippie spin (also known as the hippie twirl) was born at the same time as the Grateful Dead jam band. The dance consists of a slow, vertigo-inducing twirl that was accompanied by flailing arms.
A freewheeling dance based on the Lindy Hop, Swing dancing blossomed in the jazz era of the 1920s as a new form of expression for black Americans. It was a hugely popular movement that combined elements of many different dances to create a unique style with a distinctly swinging, jitterbug-like energy.
A staple of the 1950s, the hand jive originated in a crowded dance floor environment during the early days of rock ‘n’ roll. Its clapping, leg slapping, and fist-rolling motions became one of the most famous hand movements in history.