If you need to add life to a party or you just need to blow off some steam after a long day at work, just break out some songs with dance steps. These 16 selections, spanning from the '50s to the 21st century, will get your get feet sliding and your hips twisting.
1. Watch Me
The hip hop dance song Watch Me by Silento became a huge hit in 2015 when people around the world began uploading videos of themselves doing the dance steps in the song. Silento instructs listeners to whip it, nae nae, do the stanky leg, break their legs, bop, yule, do the Superman, and duff (in roughly that order).
2. Boot Scootin' Boogy
The blues-inflected country anthem Boot Scootin' Boogy by Brooks & Dunn has some great lyrical cues that work perfectly for dancing. Although this 1992 hit doesn't describe every dance step, it was written as a line dance and it gives instructions for the biggest steps: "heel, toe, dosey doe," and "get down, turn around," which reminds dancers what moves to do during the most active part of the dance during the chorus. It's no surprise this song has become a legendary country line dance.
3. The Hokey Pokey
No list like this would be complete without The Hokey Pokey, the novelty song recorded in 1949 by Larry LaPrise. Most people learn this fun and catchy dance song as kids in settings such as roller skating rinks, but still love it as adults.
4. Raise The Roof
Luke's popular hip hop song Raise The Roof was released in 1998. The song's dance instructions allow free dance during the verses (with a few cues including slide to the left and slide to the right), but in each chorus the singer gives specific instructions to put your hands up and "raise the roof." The end of each verse transitions into the dance move by instructing the listeners to pump their fists.
5. Cha-Cha Slide
Cha-Cha Slide by DJ Casper was released in 1998 as a funky hip hop aerobics song (with great call-to-dance cues) that got big in the 2000s. After a brief introduction, the rapper leads the audience into a specific series of moves that include clapping, hopping, stepping in certain directions and stomping.
6. Juju On Dat Beat
The 2016 rap song Juju On Dat Beat by Zay Hilfigerrr and Zayion McCall was created to emulate other popular instructive hip hop dance songs from the past. It has its own dance step called the "Juju," but listeners are also instructed to do other moves at various times such as dipping, dropping, and doing the Running Man, a nod to retro dance hip hop songs.
7. Cupid Shuffle
The hip hop dance song Cupid Shuffle by Cupid was released in 2007, and it has become such a popular dance song it draws comparisons to Cha-Cha Slide. It even inspired some NFL players to adopt the song as their end zone dance, which got them fined. It includes instructions such as moving to the right, to the left, kicking, "walking it," and dipping down.
8. The Locomotion
The Locomotion is a golden oldie pop song by Little Eva. It is another classic dance participation song that became one of the earliest dance songs with its 1958 release. Little Eva instructs dancers to swing their hips, jump up, jump back, and make a chain with the other dancers and move around the dance floor like a train.
9. Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop
Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop by Little Anthony and The Imperials was released in 1959, and it has become a golden oldie for its vintage pop chorus sound. It is one the earliest dance participation songs with its specific dance steps explained in the third verse, which include moving the left foot up, the right back, bringing them together, then gliding.
10. The Tootsee Roll
The Tootsee Roll by 69 Boyz was another '90s dance participation song that was played in just about every high school dance in the country. Its pop-flavored hip hop sound gave it broad appeal, leading to the song becoming a mainstream hit in 1995. The song includes the familiar calls "To the left, to the left!" and "I feel a whoop comin' on!"
In 2001, hip hop artist Usher released a dance participation song called U-Turn. Although it wasn't his biggest hit, it is known for its dance instructions and nice groove. The song begins with a nostalgic reflection on how hip hop songs used to always have dances that went with them. Usher then remedies the problem by introducing a dance that includes putting your hands up, bending your knees, and turning around in a "u-turn" by bouncing in a circle.
12. Do The Bartman
Do the Bartman was a pop R&B-influenced song with dance steps sung by cartoon character Bart Simpson (voiced by Nancy Cartwright) written by Bryan Loren and pop icon Michael Jackson. It involves moving front to back, shaking, gliding and other moves. The successful song spent significant time on the charts in 1991 and inspired another '90s hits show Family Matters to make their own song (see below).
13. The Urkel Dance
In the '90s TV show Family Matters, Steve Urkel created a dance and recorded a song to go with it called The Urkel. It is a silly song with a hip hop style that includes instructions to bend your knees, stick out your pelvis, put your finger in the air, dip and other comical Urkel-like motions. The dance was created in answer to the popular Do The Bartman.
14. Time Warp
The 1973 rock song Time Warp from The Rocky Horror Picture Show became a popular dance participation song as the not-so-family-friendly cult film became a trend in itself. The steps involve stepping to the right, jumping to the left, putting your hand on your hips and other moves.
15. Harlem Shuffle
The 1963 pop oldies song Harlem Shuffle by Bob and Earl was another great dance song from the early '60s that became a hit for its shuffle that went along with the song. The steps involve stepping to the right and left, moving slow, doing the Monkey Shine, hitch hiking across the floor, riding the pony and shaking your "tail feathers."
16. Peppermint Twist
Another golden oldies pop song, Peppermint Twist by Joey Dee & The Starliters, was released in 1961. It created a dance phenomenon with its instructions that include going round and round, up and down, kicking, and jumping. In some ways the song is similar to The Twist by Chubby Checkers, which was released in 1960, but Peppermint Twist provided more specific instructions to dancers.
Dance Your Feet Off
With decades worth of songs with dance steps, you could easily spend most of the day learning the steps, dips, jumps and twists included in these tunes. They provide a great way to exercise or get a party hopping. It's also fun to hear the variety of genres that feature popular songs with dance steps in their lyrics.