Dancing Twist, East Berlin, 17 May 1964
Dancing Twist, East Berlin, 17 May 1964

Novelty and fad dances are dances which are typically characterized by a short burst of popularity. Some of them, like the Twist, Y.M.C.A. and the Hokey Pokey, have shown much longer-lasting lives. They are also called dance fads or dance crazes.

Fad dances

As the pop music market got bombed in the late 1950s, dance fads were commercialized and exploited. From the 1950s to the 1970s, new dance fads appeared almost every week. Many were popularized (or commercialized) versions of new styles or steps created by African-American dancers who frequented the clubs and discothèques in major U.S. cities like New York, Philadelphia and Detroit. Among these were the Madison, "The Swim", the "Mashed Potato", "The Twist", "The Frug" (pronounced /frʊɡ/), "The Watusi", "The Shake" and "The Hitch hike". Many 1950s and 1960s dance crazes had animal names, including "The Chicken" (not to be confused with the Chicken Dance), "The Pony" and "The Dog".

In 1965, Latin group Cannibal and the Headhunters had a hit with the 1962 Chris Kenner song Land of a Thousand Dances which included the names of such dances. One list of Fad Dances compiled in 1971 named over ninety dances.[1] Standardized versions of dance moves were published in dance and teen magazines, often choreographed to popular songs. Songs such as "The Loco-Motion" were specifically written with the intention of creating a new dance and many more pop hits, such as "Mashed Potato Time" by Dee Dee Sharp, were written to cash in recent successful novelties.

In the early 1970s, disco spawned a succession of dance fads including the Bump, the Hustle, and the Y.M.C.A. This continued in the 1980s with the popular song "Walk like an Egyptian", in the 1990s with the "Macarena", in the 2000s with "The Ketchup Song" and in the 2010s with "Gangnam Style". Contemporary sources for dance crazes include music videos and movies.

There are fad dances which are meant to be danced individually as solo, others are partner dances, and yet others are danced in groups. Some of them were of freestyle type, i.e., there were no particular step patterns and they were distinguished by the style of the dance movement (Twist, Shake, Swim, Pony, Hitch hike). Only some have remained to the modern day-era, sometimes only as the name of a step (Suzie Q, Shimmy) or of a style (Mashed Potato) in a recognized dance. Fad dances are in fashion at the time of their popularity. They come to be associated with a specific time period, and can evoke particular forms of nostalgia when revived.

Notable novelty and fad dances


Year Dance
mid-1800s Cakewalk
1909 The Grizzly Bear
1926 Charleston
1930s Duckwalk
1933 Carioca
1936 Suzie Q
1937 The Lambeth Walk
1940 Thunder Clap
1941 Conga
mid-1940s Hokey Pokey


Year Dance
1950s Bomba
1950s The Chicken
1952 Bunny Hop
1957 Sock Hop
1958 Madison
1958 The Stroll
1959 Hully Gully


Year Dance
1960 Shimmy
1960 Twist
1961 The Chicken Walk
1961 The Pony
1962 The Loco-Motion
1962 Martian Hop
1962 Mashed Potato
1962 The Monster Mash
1962 The Swim
1962 Watusi
1962 Popeye Dance
1963 Chicken Dance
1963 Hitch Hike
1963 Monkey
1964 The Frug
1964 Jerk
1965 The Freddie
1965 The Mouse
1965 Limbo
1966 Batusi
1966 The Shake


Year Dance
1970s Sprinkler
1971 Penguin
1972 Hustle
1973 Time Warp
1975 Bump
1975 Tragedy
mid-1970s Grinding
1976 Car Wash
1976 Electric Slide
1976 Robot
1977 The Running Man
1978 Y.M.C.A.


Year Dance
1980s Moonwalk
1980 Cotton-Eyed Joe
1981 Harlem Shake
1981 Agadoo (aka Agadou)
1981 Superman (aka Gioca Jouer)
1982 The Safety
1983 Lambada
1983 Thriller
1986 The Hunch
1986 Wig Wam Bam
1987 Cabbage Patch
1988 Da Butt


Years Dance
1990s The Carlton (Alfonso Riberio)
1990s Locomía
1990 Boot Scootin' Boogie
1990 Do the Bartman
1990 Hammertime (MC Hammer)
1990 The Humpty Dance (Digital Underground)
1990 Vogue (Madonna)
1991 The Urkel (Jaleel White)
1992 Achy Breaky (Line dance)
1993 (1995 in US markets) Macarena (Los del Rio)
1994 Saturday Night
1996 Tic, Tic Tac
1997 Thizzle
1998 La Bomba (not to be confused with Bomba)
1998 The Roger Rabbit
1998 Tootsee Roll


Year Dance
2000 Cha Cha Slide
2001 Caramelldansen
2002 Algorithm March
2002 The Ketchup Song (Las Ketchup)
2003 Dutty Wine
2004 Lean Back (Terror Squad)
2005 Letkajenkka (aka Letkajenka, Letkiss, Letka-Enka)
2006 Chicken Noodle Soup (Webstar)
2006 Daggering
2006 Laffy Taffy
2006 Lean wit It, Rock wit It (aka Snap dance)
2006 Shoulder Lean
2006 Pop, Lock & Drop It
2007 Crank That (Soulja Boy)
2007 Cupid Shuffle
2007 Dougie
2008 Single Ladies (Beyoncé)
2009 Jerkin'
2009 Stanky Legg
2009 Hoedown Throwdown (Miley Cyrus)


Year Dance
2010 Teach Me How to Dougie (Cali Swag District)
2011 The Creep (The Lonely Island)
2011 Wobble (VIC)
2012 Gangnam Style (PSY)
2012 The Smurf
2013 Twerking
2014 Nae Nae
2015 Dab
2015 Hit the Quan
2015 Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) (Silentó)
2016 Juju
2017 Shoot
2018 The Floss
2018 Dame Tu Cosita
2018 Skibidi (Little Big)
2018 Take the L (Fortnite)


Year Dance
2020 Uno (Little Big)
2020 Dancing Pallbearers
2020 2 Phút Hơn (Kaiz remix)

See also


  1. ^ Encyclopedia of Social Dance. Albert and Josephine Butler. 1971 & 1975. Albert Butler Ballroom Dance Service. New York, NY. Table of Contents in 1971 edition.