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The Biggest Dance Crazes in History

The Biggest Dance Crazes in History

By Sean McCarthy

Twerking (2013):

This is the most recent dance to break into the mainstream (aka be performed by a white person). Participants shake their hips in an up-and-down motion and then receive lectures about how they should be focusing on Syria or something instead.

Harlem Shake (2013):

This dance and internet meme is based off the song “Harlem Shake” by Baauer, which abducted decades of culture from the streets of New York, and jammed it into a tiny cage of appropriation. Participants wait for the beat to drop then spend about twelve hours using a video editing software to get the static jump-cut right.

Gangnam Style (2012):

As featured in the popular music video by Korean sensation Psy, a person crosses their arms then bounces them up and down as though riding a horse. The second part of the dance—yelling at a woman’s rear end—is optional, and many people choose to instead speak in a quiet yet commanding tone.

The Dougie (2010):

I wish I could explain this, but nobody was willing to teach me the ways.

Soldja Boy Superman Dance (2007):

In this flash-in-the-dance-pan, participants would run into a nearby phone booth and assume their alter identity. Usually it was someone who disrespected women.

Macarena (1994):

Whenever anyone talks about how great the '90s were, just remind them how stupid this was.

YMCA (1978):

People would contort themselves into letters to spell out the acronym ‘YMCA.’ Sometimes they would pause first, and ask the DJ to use it in a sentence.

The Charleston (1923):

Participants would jump around in black and white and talk with ominous foreshadowing about how the stock market has nowhere to go but up.

The Revolution (1848):

Popular in various European states, this dance craze involved a mob of people gathering and lighting various things on fire while conservative forces looked on sternly, plotting their next move.

Dancing Plague (1518):

Here we have the original dance craze. Participants would dance until they exhausted themselves and sometimes even died. (Unfortunately not the case for the Macarena.) Nobody knows for sure what caused people to dance uncontrollably, but it’s possible that aliens sent Jimmy Hendrix to Earth on a test run during this time period, before realizing we weren’t ready for him.

The Caesar (44 BC):

Participants would circle Julius Caesar and stab him until he saw the face of the only man he trusted among the conspirators. This dance was only performed once, but remains an inspiration for the proper look of betrayal when you see your date on the dance floor with another.

Which dance craze has captured your feet?

Topics: Life
Tags: history, harlem shake, twerking, dance crazes, choreography

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