Wednesday night I was at the Canadian National Exhibition (a big fair held every year in Toronto. Blog post HERE) to check out a performer that has been on my bucket list for quiet some time..CHUBBY CHECKER! Yes the Twister himself..Chubby.

chubby checker

The concert was fantastic and filled with tons of energy and I came away with a big smile after it was done. Here is a collage of the evening.

Chubby Checker at the CNE

The next day as I was driving to work, I got to thinking about how the Twist was quintessentially a “Dance Craze or also called Fad“, which are characterized by a short burst of popularity and sometimes gliding smoothly into tradition after their “newness” has faded (like the twist which is still done today and the Lindy Hop which was originally a “Dance Craze/Fad”), and sometimes simply fading away into oblivion (source).

Then I wanted to know what OTHER dances were also Dance Crazes and then share them with you. Here are highlights of some of the fun one’s I found (trust me when I say there are many more).

Vintage LP
Source: eil


The Carioca-The word “Carioca” refers to inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro and was a 1933 popular song with music by Vincent Youmans and lyrics by Edward Eliscu and Gus Kahn, as well as the name of the dance choreographed to it for the 1933 film Flying Down to Rio.

In the movie the routine was done by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers with the main characteristic of the dance being that it was to be danced with the partners’ foreheads touching.

While the song has become a jazz standard, the dance did not have longevity. Following the success of Flying Down to Rio, an attempt was made to propagate it as a new ballroom dance, without much success (source).

Dance Marathons- People loved to dance, especially the Charleston, Fox trot, and the shimmy. Dance marathons were something everyone went to every weekend and developed into entertainment events during the Great Depression in the 1930s. These marathons would last anywhere from a few hours to a days and even weeks.

The Big Apple- is a group participation circle dance that uses swing dance for a host of steps. The Big Apple has some roots in the Ring Shout and Square Dance as well. Sometimes a solo or couple would perform in the center of the circle (like today’s modern jams) as the rest of the dancers would dance in a circle around them (source).

Originating at the “Big Apple Night Club” in the Palmetto state of Columbia, South Carolina around 1936.

dancing the big apple

This dance is cued by a caller, dancers performed moves from the Lindy Hop, Shag, and Charleston, and popular jazz steps like Trucking and Pecking. Some of the names of steps were called “Spank The Baby, Rusty Dusty, Charleston, Suzy-Q, Pose & A Peck, Boogie Back, Shorty George, and Truckin (source).

You can still see the Big Apple today in many Lindy Hop Scenes.

The Bunny Hop- is a novelty dance that was created at Balboa High School in San Francisco in 1952. It is a social mixer dance, sometimes also referred to as a “party” or “dance party” dance. See my blog post on the dance HERE.

The Madison- I LOVE THIS DANCE! Years ago I took a class on how to dance the Madison and I have been obsessed with wanting to dance it again..soon.

The Madison Dance Steps
Source: eil

The Madison is a novelty dance that was popular in the late 1950s to mid-1960s. The Madison was created and first danced in Columbus, Ohio, in 1957. The local popularity of the dance and record in Baltimore, Maryland, came to the attention of the producers of The Buddy Deane Show in 1960. Picked up by dance shows across the country, it became widely popular.

The Madison is a line dance that features a regular back-and-forth pattern interspersed with called steps. Its popularity inspired dance teams and competitions, as well as various recordings, and today it is still sometimes performed as a nostalgic dance. The Madison is featured in the John Waters movie Hairspray, seen below (source).

The Mashed Potato-is a dance move which was a popular dance craze of 1962. The dance move was made famous by James Brown and used in his concerts regularly. It was danced to songs such as Dee Dee Sharp’s “Mashed Potato Time”. The move vaguely resembles that of the Twist, by Chubby Checker (source).

Last but not least I will leave you with everyone’s favorite..The Hand Jive!

The hand jive was invented at The Cat’s Whisker, a coffee bar situated in Soho, London, during the mid-late 1950s. It was invented because there was no space to manoeuvre in the crowded basement other than to do ‘hand dancing’. It is a dance particularly associated with music of the 1950s, rhythm and blues.  It involves a complicated pattern of hand moves and claps at various parts of the body, following and/or imitating the percussion instruments (source).

The hand jive was popularized in the States by Johnny Otis’s “Willie and the Hand Jive”.

Most people remember it from the Movie Grease.

And that is all for now, but like I said above there are many many more, so you quite possibly might see a Part 2 to this post.

Question time! Do you have a favorite Dance Craze or Fad (vintage or modern)?

Liz 🙂

8 comments on “Vintage Dance Crazes”

  1. Chubby Checker must be aging pretty well. I used to listen to my cassette I got in 1989 after seeing “Hairspray” and I do recall “It’s Madison Time.” And of course, the hand jive is embedded in my brain, should John Travolta ever reach for my hand. The gun point, the lasso–all good until that dang Cha Cha shows up.

  2. Awesome, totally fun post!!! It’s so cool that you were able to see Chubby Checker in person!

    We used to do the bunny hop (and the chicken dance) in primary school gym class sometimes. I haven’t thought about it in ages. Thanks for the fun trip down memory lane. 🙂

    ♥ Jessica

  3. Great post! I love dancing, especially Lindy Hop. And one line dance from the 1930s I’m still trying to learn is the Shim Sham. This a great video of the legendary Frankie Manning doing it!

    • Hi Theresa! Lindy Hop is the BEST! I have been dancing it for over 8 years now and even met my now husband there AND I took a couple of lessons from Frankie awesome! 🙂 I even handle the social media for toronto lindy hop, so I hear ya on the “love of Lindy hop”. The Shim Sham though has never been a dance I can master, or maybe I should say I ever really took the time TO master lol 🙂 some day!

      Thanks for stopping by.


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