Famous Dances in the Sixties

Retro girl dancing in beauty salon

The sixties were a fun and high-spirited decade, and the famous dances in the sixties demonstrated this energy.

The Dances of the Era

Compared to many dances of the previous decades, partners were no longer needed to join in on the fun. Famous dances in the sixties were often associated with a song. In some cases, the lyrics instructed listeners in how to perform the dance. However, often the singers just implored dancers to "do the [name of dance]." It was up to friends, DJs, and television programs such as American Bandstand to spread the moves to the latest dance craze. Many famous dances from this era were actually short-lived fads. Yet they remain in our consciousness today thanks to nostalgia.

A Few Famous Dances in the Sixties

The Freddie

Lift your right arm and leg Lift your left arm and leg. It sounds simple, but at high speeds, it can result in a crazy dance.

The Frug

Stand with your feet together and bend your knees slightly. Move your hips to the right, and then move them to the left. The movement should come from the hips rather than your knees. The frug is danced at a fast pace, and a right-left pair of hip movements should take a single count.

The Hitch-Hike

While doing the hip motions of the frug, hold you right hand in a fist with thumb extended, as if you are hitch-hiking. Move your thumb to the right for three counts. Clap your hands to the right on the fourth count. Switch hands and move your thumb to the left for three counts. Clap your hands, this time to the left, on the fourth count.

The Loco-motion

This dance is unique among famous dances in the sixties in being a line dance. Dancers take instruction from the song, performing hip swings and jumps, among other steps.

The Mashed Potato

Stand with your heels together and your toes turned out, much like in ballet first position. Shift your weight to your toes and swing your heels out and back in. From there, you can start lifting your feet with the outward swings.

The Shimmy

Shake your shoulders back and forth while holding the rest of your body still. Your arms should be held to the side with elbows slightly bent.

The Swim

The key to this dance is in the arm movements. While your lower body is doing the frug or the twist, your arms are swimming and diving. For the grand finale, hold your nose and pretend to be sinking under water.

The Twist

When listening to Chubby Checker's popular song, the only way to move is to twist your body back and forth to the beat. The key to performing the Twist properly is that you must use both your legs and your torso, often in opposite directions.

The Watusi

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Raise one arm up in front of you, then raise the other arm as the first arm drops down, and repeat. The feet generally stay in place, although you may also take small steps throughout your dancing. Some dancers choose to bob their heads or bend their knees to accompany the arm movements. This dance was popular in surfer culture, so it was prominently featured in beach-themed movies.

Other Popular Sixties Dances

A few other dances from this time period include:

  • The Boogaloo
  • The Bristol Stomp
  • The Chicken
  • The Drag
  • The Flick
  • The Hully Gully
  • The Jerk
  • The Limbo
  • The Monkey
  • The Strut
  • The Tighten Up

You don't have to go completely retro to enjoy the dances of the sixties. The next time you hear the music, why not bear witness to the evolution of dance and try a little twisting or frugging?

Famous Dances in the Sixties