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WHEN CHUBBY CHECKER released “The Twist” in 1960, he started a dance craze with, if you will, a twist. Before “The Twist,” the popular dances — foxtrot, jitterbug, square dancing — required a partner. “The Twist,” according to Checker, was the first to allow people to dance separately, without touching. But it could still be done with someone.
“The Twist” is about swiveling your hips and knees, while standing on the balls of your feet, to the beat. It’s relatively easy — and fun. (There’s also “Let’s Twist Again” and “Slow Twistin’.”) “The Twist” also ushered in an era where dances accompanied songs and, in some cases, where the dance made the song popular. Urban music continues that trend today.
Here are some of the popular dances that have followed “The Twist,” dances you can do with a partner without holding on to that partner.
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The Mashed Potato: Dee Dee Sharp’s “Mashed Potato Time,” released not long after “The Twist,” requires footwork — place one foot behind the other with the heel inward before swiveling the heel outward. Repeat — that doesn’t have to be precise.
The Carlton: Alfonso Riberio (of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”) did an exceptional and inspirational (for me, at least) impersonation of Michael Jackson. But he’ll always be remembered for the nerdy update of the two-step.
Vogue: Strike a pose. Madonna made it into a craze that Lady Gaga, undoubtedly, appreciated.
The Humpty Dance: This is about flailing arms and head shaking. That’s all there is to it. Furthermore, Humpty explains how to do it in the song.
The Pee-Wee Herman: With one leg in front of the other, crouch and then clap your fists together from front to back. Platform shoes are optional.
The Worm: Novice break dancers like pulling this out, especially at weddings. When done well, it’s a wonderful exercise of body control. Unfortunately, we mostly see drunk dudes trying to be funny.
Crank dat Roy: Originating in Orangeburg, this dance needs a lot of space as the dancer moves in various directions using elements of break dancing, the two-step and bounce.
Walk it Out: It’s like doing “The Twist” while walking.
The Running Man: MC Hammer popularized this dance which, if done too slow, makes you long like you’re jogging in place.
Loco-Motion: The line dance, which began in the ’60s with Little Eva, has been revived twice, most recently by Kylie Minogue in 1988.
The Macarena: If you’ve been to a wedding in the last 10 years, you know how to do this dance.
The Elaine: The “Seinfeld” sidekick tries to kick it up at a party, but she’s no belle of the ball.
The Butterfly: Moving the knees in and out is rather easy. Try doing it with your hands on the ground and your feet on a wall.
The Cabbage Patch: With your elbows against your sides and your fists in front of your chest, pretend you are stirring something.
Roger Rabbit: Looks very similar to the Mashed Potato, doesn’t it?
The Dougie: The Dougie, which has distinct elements of “The Twist,” is the most popular dance at the moment. Basically, you move from side to side, twisting your arms as you go. The trick is the hitch or pause. Doug E. Fresh is the innovator of the dance, but Cali Swag District made it a phenomenon.
Bankhead Bounce: Move your shoulders up and down while moving your arms, placed in front of your face like a boxer, from side to side. OutKast’s “Benz or a Beamer” video is an example of how it’s done to perfection. (It’s probably my favorite OutKast song, too.)
Walk Like an Egyptian: Probably the easiest on the list. Egyptians, by the way, don’t walk like this.