Popular Dances of the 20th Century

Jul 17, 2023 Uncategorized

popular dances

Modern dance fads have been as varied as the music that inspired them. Some reached global popularity before disappearing in a few short months or weeks. Others endured through the decades and continue to be reinvented today. They have influenced art forms, challenged social norms and traditions, horrified genteel society and thrilled young people.

In the 1920’s during the Roaring Twenties, a time of jazz music and social disillusionment, new dances blossomed in the USA, Britain, and Europe. From jitterbug and the sexy Lindy Hop to foxtrot, they were done everywhere: nightclubs, speakeasies, Charleston contests, hotels, restaurants, and local dance halls. Footwork diagrams and instructional information from such dance instructors as Arthur Murray flooded the mail, giving dancers the tools they needed to step out and show off.

By the 1960’s, hippies twirled to the beat of The Grateful Dead at Woodstock and other jam band concerts. They danced the Gone with the Wind spin and the psychedelic tornado twirl, known as the Hippie Spin, which continues to be popular at jam band festivals.

Hip-hop spawned a dance fad called the Running Man, which requires fast music and plenty of space. It was made famous by acts like Bobby Brown, MC Hammer, and Milli Vanilli. Disco sparked many more dance crazes including the Bump, the Hustle, and the Macarena. Breakdancing, created as a less lethal way to fight between rival African-American street gangs in the 1970’s Bronx area of NYC, resurfaced in worldwide popularity during the 1990’s.