The Stroll 50's dance craze went from a simple line dance to becoming one of the most recognized and most social dances, giving both the talented dancers and novices a way to enjoy the music and movement together.
How Did the Stroll 50's Dance Begin?
Some might think that this dance started with the song by the same name as performed in the 1950s by the doo-wop group the Diamonds. However, the roots of the Stroll go back much further - in fact, it's probably impossible to say where the style of dance was first created. You can see elements of the moves in traditional English Country dance, in the "jive" dance that originated in the south, and many other iconic cultural dances, including several modern ones. The Bus Stop, as danced in the movie American Graffiti, is a version of the Stroll 50's dance-style, whereas the popular TV show from the 60's and 70's Soul Train also featured a version. Some choreographers even feel that the Macarena falls into the Stroll category, along with the wedding dance favorite the Electric Slide.
How to Stroll with Style
One of the reasons this dance is so popular is because it is simple in concept, but leaves room for complex and skillful moves for dancers looking for a challenge. Setting up the Stroll is simple:
- Dancers form two lines, facing each other - usually males on one side, females on the other, but that's not necessary.
- Some type of rhythmic and repetitive music is played - the original Stroll by the Diamonds is very slow, but the version shown in the movie Grease proved that faster beats can work as well.
- The dancers in the two lines sway back and forth to the beat, usually with a little step-touch or a small kick or clap on the 2's and 4's. This is just to keep moving - these dancers are not supposed to be doing any embellishing or fancy moves. Instead, this encourages socialization with other dancers, and provides a great chance to flirt with each other.
- The two dancers at the head of each line break off and begin to "stroll" down between the swaying dancers. They can be as tricky or as simple as they like - some do a sort of shuffle step or grapevine, others do acrobatic jitterbug-style moves with each other. The aim is to give the couple the focus - whether they're showing off their clothes, their moves, or just how much fun they're having.
- When the couple reaches the bottom of the lines, they join the rest of the dancers doing the basic step and then the next couple at the top of the line starts their "stroll." This is repeated until the song is done, the line is finished, or whenever the dancers get tired of it.
- One of the big advantages of this kind of dance is that it does not require an even number of male and female dancers. This makes the Stroll an ideal way for dancers to mix without pressure, and gives even wallflowers a chance to move on the floor.
Some dancers call certain line dances the Stroll although they are actually closer to the Madison in terms of the steps. Dances like the Electric Slide have more complex group moves, but since they repeat the same choreography over and over again, people can pick it up and join the dance fairly easily. This kind of "stroll" usually begins with only a few dancers - two or three - beginning the moves, and gradually everyone else on the dance floor joins in until it is a synchronized group. You can learn to do this version of the stroll online at sites like Videojug or YouTube, but the best place to learn - and the most fun - is just to get out on the floor. Whether it's the Stroll dance or a more modern version, you can count on having a good time.