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70s Dances

As with most decades of the 20th century, dancing was an important part of the lives of young club-goers in the 1970s and it showed in the 70s dances.

20-somethings gathered together regularly on Friday or Saturday evenings and danced the night away, rocking to the sounds of the latest 70s dance tunes.

Quintessential TV dance shows, like American Bandstand (which premiered in 1957) were still going strong in the 70s, and more music and dance shows – including Soul Train – came onto the scene as well.

Americans were glued to their televisions when these shows aired, eager to learn the latest 70s dances and sing along with the hottest songs.

In the 70s, a number of new music trends emerged. Hence, many new dance fads appeared along with them. Some appealed to the masses.

Others were deemed silly by older folks who no doubt found them to be much different from the dances of their generation. Nonetheless, these 70s dances spoke to a different generation and many of them are quite memorable.

The Hustle Dance - Do the Hustle!

In 1975, singer Van McCoy encouraged everyone to “Do The Hustle” and the name of this dance soon began being applied to most disco-style dances.

There were both line and partner forms of the Hustle and a few different styles as well, depending on what coast you lived. (i.e. the New York vs. the LA Hustle)

Dance experts describe the dance as a mixture of Swing and Latin, performed to a 70s disco beat.

The partner/couples version rose to fame when it was performed in the movie Saturday Night Fever, though dance aficionados will argue that John Travolta’s dance was much more freestyle than the original couples Hustle.

The Bump Dance

The Bump was a fairly simple 70s dance that didn’t require learning a lot of complicated steps. Instead, partners stepped or swayed to the music – standing apart from one another – and came together to bump hips about every other beat.

The idea was to bump gently, but smaller dancers tended to get jostled around by partners who weighed a bit more, and some people got carried away and bumped a little too hard, sending their partners across the dance floor.

There were number of songs that were inspired by the dance, including one called The Bump by British rock group, Kenny. However, you could do the bump to almost any song with a pumping rhythmic beat.

Funky Chicken Dance

One of the more bizarre 70s dances was the Funky Chicken, it was a solo dance that involved steps with names like “chicken wings” and “chicken legs.”

Not to be confused with the popular oom-pah-style Chicken Dance performed at wedding receptions, the Funky Chicken merely imitated the jerky movements of a chicken, with dancers incorporating their own style to make their dance moves a little different from everyone else.


The YMCA dance is an example of a dance deriving from a particular song. In this case, the song was YMCA by The Village People, recorded and released in 1978.

For this dance, dancers simply move their arms to form the Y, M, C, and A whenever those letters appear in the lyrics. The rest of the dance is freestyle. Still done at weddings and often between innings at sporting events, YMCA is likely to be around for many more decades.