Twisting, mashing, and grooving in the ‘60s

One thing you should know about baby boomers: they all went through a ‘dance craze’ phase. For us who grew up in the ‘60s, that’s where much of our stored energy went — dancing to some wacky tunes. And there was a new set of moves to learn even before we were good to go with another.

Chubby Checker started it with the Twist, a highly infectious number that got everyone on the floor as soon as he opened with “C’mon everybody, clap your hands.” First-time dancers were primed: simply imagine putting out a cigarette stub with your foot and pulling an imaginary towel side to side to dry your butt. And that’s how the butt-drying dance became a worldwide fad.

The beat went on with Mashed Potatoes, a footwork dance that got its name from the song popularized by Dee Dee Sharp.

Other novelty moves followed, some of them animal-inspired like the Pony, the Monkey, the Dog, and the Elephant Walk. As you would imagine, these dances imitated the basic movements of the respective animals as this Pony dance video shows.

The Jerk, the Swim, and the Frug had their share of popularity, along with the Watusi — a dance named after an African tribe. It had a wacky version called Batusi done by — you’d never guess this — Batman! Yes, Batman can dance, and he did so in the ‘60s.

Most of the ‘60s dance routines were easy to do, with one exception — the Limbo Rock. But then again, Limbo Rock wasn’t so much a dance as it was a test of flexibility. Like, how low can you go? All these dances had one thing in common — they didn’t require any contact with a partner, so one basically went by his or her own design.

As a child of this era I turn wistful at the thoughts of mini skirts, flared pants, bouffant hairstyles, black and white television, and the rotary phone, among others. They’re nothing but fond memories now, but dancing is a different story. Ah, YouTube! I simply click the Play button and I’d be twisting and frugging along in no time. I don’t mind if the hubby’s watching. He’s free to join me as he pleases.

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