Common dances from the 1960s featured the ability to dance without a partner. The dances also shared vivid names. These unique dances included the Mashed Potato, the Fly, the Penguin, the Monkey, the Swim and the Funky Chicken. Some sources claim that as many as 500 dances were introduced in the 1960s.
Just one of the dances from the 1960s that created the largest craze was The Twist, debuting, as the decade began, on the Dick Clark Show. The Twist originated with the song of the same name, originally released by Hank Ballard. Chubby Checker, who had only one minor prior hit song, released a new version of the song. Checker’s success continued with over a dozen hits that decade, many of which contributed to the most popular dances.
The simplicity of The Twist dance made it popular with all ages. The movement was simple: place one foot forward and twist it back and forth while rotating your hips from side to side. Other twist songs followed by artists including Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, The Beatles, Gary “U.S.” Bonds, Sam Cooke and others.
The common dances from the 1960s veered away from the touch partner dancing that had been popular in prior decades. As a dance, The Mashed Potato originated with songs by Steve Alaimo, James Brown and Dee Dee Sharp. Variations exist, but some descriptions of this dance involve both arms placed out in front of the body. While grinding each foot alternately, the performer flutters the arms one at a time. The concept was that the performer appeared to be mashing potatoes with his or her feet.
Just as you would imagine, the dance named the Monkey, another popular dance from this decade, imitated the antics of the animal it was named for. Dancers faced their partners while waving their arms, bobbing their heads, scratching and hopping. Major Lance introduced the dance in 1963 with the hit "The Monkey Time."
Other popular dances from the 1960s included the Locomotion, the Duck, the Hanky Panky, the Camel Walk and Do the Freddie. Many of the dances caused controversy. In one instance, Brigham Young University (BYU) banned all “fad dances” in 1966 and Buffalo banned the Twist in 1962.