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How Many of These 1960s Dances Do You Remember? (Including Vintage Videos!)

By Sixty and Me April 04, 2023 Lifestyle

As women who grew up in the 1960s, dance has been a part of our lives since the very beginning. But, if I’m right, most of us haven’t had a chance to see our favorite 1960s dances performed – let alone put on our dancing shoes and try them ourselves – for many years.

So, I thought it would be fun to collect vintage videos of the most iconic 1960s dances and share them here. I’ll say a few words about my own experience with music and dance first. But, you can always skip to the videos, below, if you are itching to try Twist, Watusi, Mashed Potato and Pony yourself!

Here are my favorite 1960s dances:

  1. The Twist – The iconic 1960s dance hit.
  2. Mashed Potato – The dance made popular by Dee Dee Sharp’s song Mashed Potato Time.
  3. The Monster Mash – The Halloween classic favorite. 
  4. The Madison – The popular line dance.
  5. The Hully Gully – “Shake your shoulders and wiggle your knees.”
  6. The Pony – Another great dance created by Chubby Checker.
  7. The Hitch Hike – Marvin Gaye’s iconic dance that accompanied his hit song became an instant favorite.
  8. The Swim – The timeless dance that had you swimming on the dance floor.
  9. The Locomotion – The silly dance that had you dancing in a chain formation like a train on the dance floor.

If you enjoy these videos, please share this article with your friends. Let’s see if we can start a dance revolution!

For as Long as I Can Remember, I Have Loved to Dance

In elementary school, they used to pipe music into the playground, where we gathered in little circles to dance. I wonder if they still do that… somehow, I doubt it!

Then, as my friends and I got a little older, dancing continued to be one of our favorite social activities.

Do You Remember Dick Clark American Bandstand?

We gathered in little groups and tried out the latest and greatest moves. Line dances were big and my group of girls was always experimenting.

I would rush home from school and watch American Bandstand, where Dick Clark would introduce one fun and funky band after another. Then, like so many little girls of my generation, I would dance in front of my television.

The Twist, Watusi, Mashed Potato and Pony Are Born

Then, I turned 13 and my family moved to Detroit. There, my passion for dance was intensified by the fabulous Motown music in the city air.

Incredible rhythmic music was everywhere and the dances that we know now by fun descriptive names became a part of my life. The Twist, Watusi, Mashed Potato and Pony – I loved them all!

The Twist was, of course, the most famous. But, if I am honest, my favorite was the Mashed Potato!

With My Long, Dark Cher Hair, I Would Get Lost in the Movement

Our favorite 1960s dances encouraged camaraderie and connection. Dancing was definitely a social statement! I remember going to the Grande Ballroom in Detroit and dancing until my curfew. They were such amazing times!

At times, the dance energy was intense. No wonder I was so skinny!

Looking at the videos below, I see how high energy, fun and carefree these dances were. They reflected a different attitude to music and social engagement! They were designed to make you feel good!

We knew how to have fun!

Here are 10 famous 1960s dances that you probably remember.

The Twist Was an Iconic 1960s Dance

Most people don’t remember that the original song, The Twist, was released in 1959, one year before the hit cover by Chubby Checker. It was Checker’s version of the song that made the dance of the same name iconic.

Take a look at this video of The Twist.

Mashed Potato

Unlike The Twist, the Mashed Potato was not linked to a single song. Instead, it became the basis for the dance moves that went along with several hits. Among the most famous songs to become associated with the Mashed Potato was Dee Dee Sharp’s Mashed Potato Time.

Take a look at this video of the Mashed Potato.

The Monster Mash

Another famous 1960s dance that was related to the Mashed Potato was The Monster Mash. The song, made popular by Bobby “Boris” Pickett, has since gone on to become synonymous with Halloween for millions of kids around the world. In fact, it is one of the few 1960s songs that most of our grandkids have probably heard.

Here’s The Monster Mash.

The Madison

The Madison was a line-dance hit that was popular in the 1960s and well into the 1970s. In this instructional video, dance instructors Jennifer Comar and Paolo Pasta Lanna share the basic moves for The Madison.

The Hully Gully

“Shake your shoulders and wiggle your knees.” Another favorite from the 1960s was The Hully Gully. Here’s a clip of the Olympics performing the song that ultimately inspired the dance.

The Watusi

In 1961, Puerto Rico jazz musician, Ray Barretto, released his hit song “El Watusi.” Future artists picked up the beat and The Watusi developed into a dance that thrived for years to come.

In the following clip, The Lennon Sisters, Norma Zimmer, Larry Hooper and Russ Klein perform Wah Watusi on The Lawrence Welk Show.

The Pony

Chubby Checker is perhaps best known for his association with the hit song, The Twist. However, this was one of several dances that he inspired. For example, his hit song Pony Time inspired the iconic dance The Pony.

Here’s a video of Chubby Checker performing Pony Time.

The Hitch Hike

Iconic dance hit, The Hitch Hike, was inspired by Marvin Gaye’s hit with the same name. In the following short video, Marvin Gaye performs Hitch Hike.

The Swim

In retrospect, the moves from The Swim were rather obvious. You pretty much just need to pretend that you are swimming! Well, simple or not, it was a lot of fun!

Here’s a video of Bobby Freeman performing the hit.

The Locomotion

Little Eva was fantastic and this dance was so easy and fun to do! Yes, the words were silly, but, the music was great! I just love the backup dancers in this video! Move over Beyonce!

Did you enjoy this stroll down memory lane? If so, please share this article with your friends. Let’s see if we can lead a revival of some of the best dances ever created!

Read TAKE AN ELECTRIC SLIDE DOWN MEMORY LANE: HOW MANY 1970S DANCES DO YOU REMEMBER? (VINTAGE VIDEOS).

Also read STOP BEING SO SERIOUS! LET MUSIC AND DANCE LEAD YOU TO AWESOME AGING!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Which 1960s dances do you remember? Did you dance The Twist, Mashed Potato, Monster Mash, Madison or any of the other songs in this article? Let’s have a chat and take a stroll down memory lane!

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Serge Rubinstein

I’m trying to find the name of the dance which was done on the songs of the Rolling Stones like “It’s all over now” and “the Last Time”. I remember they danced springing aside in ranks.

Michele

For us here in the Philly area, it was the bop (or stepping in Chicago) later to become the hustle in the ’70’s. The 81. The Cha Cha. Then the slow drag. I haven’t slow dragged in years. You smelled good, he smelled good and for 3 minutes and some seconds, you were romanced. Not done today. Sad.

Last edited 8 months ago by Michele
William Maceri

I was pretty young in the early 60s, but there were a lot of older people who were in to all the new songs and the dances that went with them. We had afternoon TV dance shows that helped the music and dances become popular. My mom loved the twist and the boss nova. We all danced the twist, the jurk, the mashed potato, the hitchhike, and the hully gully. It was the music and dance matched our age perfectly. Then in the 70s, the disco sound took over and it brought with it the disco era clothes that were very unique and popular. We all wore the disco clothes. Again, it was targeted to my age group. By the time the 80s came along, I don’t remember a certain style if music, dance or clothes that dominated the seen. The popular music seemed to be rock and roll, Michael Jackson’s Thriller was everyone’s favorite album. By the time the 90s rolled in, it seemed electro pop was at its hight. Groups like REO, the Cars, Boston and a few others were dominating the seen. Also, Pat Benatar, Madonna, the GoGos and a few other girl bands were popular. Looking back, the kids in my generation had great music, that was all geared to us. It was us that first had the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Doors, Jethro Tull, Beach Boys and a few others. I don’t think any other generation had so much new great music like we did. And people think we were spoiled. Of course we were! We were and still are the Boomers. It’s all about us.

Alison

How about The Jerk??

Kyle

I was in high school ‘64-‘68, and did, and still do at 72, every dance shown!
Thanks for the memories!

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Sixty and Me is a community of over 500,000 women over 60 founded by Margaret Manning. Our editorial team publishes articles on lifestyle topics including fashion, dating, retirement and money.

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