Don’t we all just love to see the dances our parents did when they were younger than us? This video captures a short-lived but strenuous dance from way back in 1964, called the “Nitty Gritty.”
This performance was taped for the Judy Garland Show and featured the “classic” Shirley Ellis song. Keep your eye on the guy dancer in front. His name is Bobby Banas, and he went on to appear in the movies “West Side Story,” “Mary Poppins,” and “Let’s Make Love,” with Marilyn Monroe.
We started wondering about all the songs that inspired dance crazes, so we looked up a few that became particularly popular and listed them here for your stroll down memory lane.
Right here at the top we have to start with “The Twist.” In 1960, Chubby Checker went straight to number one with this song written by Hank Ballard. He then rode it all the way back to the top of the charts in 1962, making it the only song in history to hit number one in two different chart runs. And we still do The Twist today, if just to show how ironic we can be when a Meghan Trainor song comes up. Again.
In 1962, Checker’s fellow Philadelphian Dee Dee Sharpe scored a huge hit with “Mashed Potato Time.” It brought with it a crazy new dance that then influenced a whole host of other singers to create mashed potato-related songs, including “V-a-c-a-t-i-o-n” by Connie Francis, “Land of 1000 Dances” by Wilson Pickett, and of course “Monster Mash” by Boris Pickett and the Crypt Kickers. Somehow, we bet you didn’t know who performed that last song, are we right?
Ray Baretto, a Puerto Rican jazzman, released “El Watusi” in 1961, and introduced the United States to “The Watusi.” Another version of the song, recorded by The Orlons, went to number 2 on the charts and stayed there for 14 weeks.
Chubby Checker also launched “The Pony,” which was also mentioned in Wilson Pickett’s “Land of 1000 Dances”. It is a simple 1&2, 3&4 move that doesn’t require any contact with your partner, so how fun could that possibly be?
The Bobby Freeman hit song “C’mon Let’s Swim” spawned, you guessed it “The Swim.” Like “The Twist” this dance move has proved to have real staying power, as you can still see people pull out the move at parties and weddings from time to time. The actual song lyrics sound more like commands from a dancercise instructor that poetry, but hey, back then, they still watched movies in 3d and thought exploring outer space was “neat.”
In 1963, Marvin Gaye had a huge hit with the song “Hitch Hike” which led to yet another popular dance move involving, you guessed, your thumbs. Basically, you waive your right thumb over your right shoulder three times, clap your hands, and then waive your left thumb over your left shoulder, and clap again. This move is so easy to do, you can perform it sitting down. And man was it popular. This dance step was even performed by John Travolta, so you know it has got to be easy.
What are your favorite dance steps inspired by songs? “The Electric Slide?” ”Boot Scootin’ Boogie?” Let us know what gets your booty shaking.