In a time when many people want to dance but don’t have the time or space to take up ballet, a wide variety of popular dances offer alternatives. These are often called dance fads or dance crazes and have short-lived popularity, but they do get people moving.
During the Depression, dance clubs offered dancing marathons and prize money to keep couples on the floor. The swing era brought in big-band music, starring such artists as Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. Taking the Lindy Hop as its foundation, swing jazz added lifts, flips and other death-defying aerial maneuvers.
The jitterbug was a spin-off of both swing and the Lindy Hop, developed in African American juke joints during Prohibition. Cab Calloway’s 1935 hit, “Cab Calloway’s Jitterbug Party,” helped popularize the name of the bouncy couple’s dance.
Similarly, the jerk, which was made famous by two separate songs released in the ’60s — “The Jerk,” by the Larks and “Come On Do the Jerk,” by the Miracles — has also lived on to this day. The loco motion, which came about from a 1962 song of the same name by Little Eva, has charted three times over a span of decades.
The kazoo craze of the 1990s was fueled by the music video of “Walk Like an Egyptian” and the song’s catchy chorus of “Let’s do the kazoo.” More recent hits like the Macarena, Gangnam Style and the dance that accompanies Beyonce’s 2008 single, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” have spawned line dances that are a staple at wedding receptions and other events.