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What are the Common Dances from the 1970s?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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The most common dances from the 1970s are in the disco and punk genres, and dances from both gained enormous popularity by the middle part of the decade. The two genres are very different, with disco style being vibrantly sexy with flashing colored dance floor lighting and clingy dance wear, and punk style being more dark, aggressive, and rebellious.

Punk began with British bands such as The Clash. Common dances from the 1970s punk scene are the Mosh and the Pogo. Moshing, done in a Mosh pit, includes "head banging," "body-slamming," and other aggressive contact with other dancers while moving to the beat of the music. Although the aim of the dance is not to harm others, some people at punk and metal concerts did get hurt due to all the physical contact by so many people in one place.

Songs such as "Pogo Dancing" by The Vibrators in 1976, helped the Pogo become one of the most common dances from the decade. The Pogo involves jumping in one position off the floor to the first beat of the music and landing back where you started during the second beat of the music. The Pogo's hand movements are typically punk with a lot of freestyle pushing and shoving motions.

Although the world's first disco, The Peppermint Lounge in Paris, France, opened in the 1950s, disco dancing did not really catch on in the United States until much later. The Cuban influence in Florida in 1968 helped turn "disco swing" salsa dances into other common dances from the 1970s. A strong pulsing beat sets the defining rhythm.

Donna Summer became a huge name in disco and helped make disco dances popular during the 1970s. She had had many hits in Europe before releasing "Love to Love You, Baby" to an overwhelming response in the United States in 1975. More big disco hits from Summer such as "Hot Stuff," "MacArthur Park," and "She Works Hard for the Money" soon followed.

Van McCoy's hit song "The Hustle," which explains how to do the disco dance named in the title, premiered in 1975. The Hustle is definitely one of the most common dances from the 1970s. The New York Hustle is slower than the Los Angeles version and has more footwork.

Speaking of footwork, John Travolta's moves to hit Bee Gees songs such as "Staying Alive" and "Night Fever" in the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever inspired many dances in the 1970s. Interestingly, another Travolta movie, Urban Cowboy released in 1980, helped set the hottest dance trend for the 1980s called the Texas Two Step.

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Discussion Comments
By SauteePan — On Nov 07, 2010

Cupcake15-I remember the show American Bandstand. It featured popular artists that sung in the studio as people danced to the music.

It was kind of like being in a nightclub on television. Most of the famous bands of the 70’s were featured. The show initially aired in 10/7/1957 and ended in 9/5/1987.

The show featured new songs with “Rate a record”. Over the years they also featured dances from the 50s, and dances from the 60s as well as bands from the 1970s.

Too bad this show is off the air because it would have been nice to see dances from the 90s as well as the current music of today.

The Bandstand Boogie which was written and sung by Barry Manilow was the introduction to the show. It went like this, “We're goin' hoppin' (Hop!) We're goin' hopin' today Where things are poppin'(Pop!) The Philadelphia way, We're goin' drop in (Drop!)On all the music they play On the Bandstand.!” I really miss this show. I really enjoyed the dances from the 70s as well as the music of from the 1970s that they featured.

By cupcake15 — On Nov 07, 2010

Crispety-The dances from the 1970’s really include the Bump and the Hustle. In fact there was a hit song entitled; “Do the Hustle” that was made famous by this craze.

Disco music reached the height in popularity and the movie, “Saturday Night Fever” not only made John Travolta a star, but this movie was emblematic of way young people embraced disco music and the night club dance obsession.

Nightclubs like Studio 54 became iconic and it was the place to see and been seen during this era. This nightclub is now defunct, but it was so legendary that a movie was made on the rise and fall of this famous nightclub.

By Crispety — On Nov 07, 2010

Sunshine31- Songs from the 1970’s would not be complete with out the mention of Donna Summer.

Donna Summer had so many memorable hits it was amazing. Her songs, “Bad Girls,”, “Dim All the Lights”, “I Feel Love”, and “Love to Love You Baby”, “Last Dance” and “Hot Stuff” were among her greatest hits. “Bad Girls” and “Hot Stuff” all hit number one and Donna Summer won a Grammy for “Last Dance” and a second Grammy for “Hot Stuff”.

“Dim All the Lights” hit number two on the Billboard charts. She also had another number hit with her duet with Barbara Streisand. The song “No More Tears” was a huge hit and really made Donna Summer appear invincible.

But it is safe to say that Donna Summer was the Queen of Disco. She now lives in Nashville and continues to produce music. It is really ironic that the “Queen of Disco” would like in the country music capital of the United States. She will always be remembered for shaping the disco movement of the 1970’s.

By sunshine31 — On Nov 07, 2010

The music from the 1970’s was very memorable. The Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever soundtrack was among the best selling records during that era.

In fact the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack was number one on the American Billboard charts for 25 consecutive weeks. Many number singles came out of this soundtrack which included, “Night Fever”, “Staying Alive”, and “How Deep is Your Love.”

The 1970’s fashion is also highlighted in this film. Women wore gaucho pants, and men wore leisure suits. Platform shoes were all of the rage and polyester was a popular fabric.

Women also wore tube tops and very thinly shaped eye brows. Women’s hairstyles were either worn straight with a wave toward the bottom.

If the women had curly hair it would be worn like an afro with the curls picked out with a pick to make the hair appear fuller. These were 1970s fashion that many people will never forget.

By averagejoe — On Jun 13, 2008

How about the bump, where dancers positioned themselves side to side and bumped hips? And, how about the YMCA, where dancers imitated the letters Y, M, C, and A with their hands?

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