Dance has long been a popular form of expression for many cultures around the globe. From ballroom to street, there is a wide range of famous dances that have shaped our history and evoke specific feelings when they are performed.
Some dance fads were short-lived trends that reached the peak of their popularity before disappearing from view, while others have survived the test of time. Some have even been reinvented and rediscovered again as they continue to be reinterpreted and reshaped in the present.
Many of these dances sat quietly in underground scenes for years before reaching the mainstream with the help of a single person, song or music video. Some of these movements, like voguing, had been around for decades in New York’s drag balls before making it big with Madonna’s 1990 hit “Vogue.” The dance is described as a giddy mass of flying limbs and sashaying hips that was popularized by the fashion world.
Other fads, like the Twist and the Y.M.C.A., became instantly recognizable as the signature moves of a generation. But only a few, like Michael Jackson’s “moonwalk” and the Lambada (named for a popular beat by South Korean producer PSY) have gained planetary fame in their own right.
Some dances were created in the roaring 20’s, when African American musicians brought excitement to their performances with exciting synchopated rhythms and rolicking ragtime pianos. One of these fads was the Charleston, a couples dance that featured a fast tapping and twirling of the feet. Another was the wild Jitterbug, a spin-off of swing dancing and Lindy Hop, made famous in the 1930’s by Cab Calloway and other big band acts.