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How Do I Re-Create Dances from the 1970s?

To re-create dances from the 1970s, immerse yourself in the era's culture. Start by watching iconic films and music videos, then practice the moves—think the Hustle and the Bump. Dress the part to get in the groove, and consider taking a class for authentic guidance. Ready to boogie? Discover how each step reflects the vibrant spirit of the '70s in our full guide.
Lori Spencer
Lori Spencer

To re-create dances from the 1970s, it can help to familiarize yourself with the era and styles. Many of the most popular dances of this era originated in the United States and were popularized around the world through movies and TV shows. A good way to start learning about the dances of the 1970s is to watch films and television from the era; Saturday Night Fever, for example, is a film that put dancing at the epicenter of American popular culture. This 1977 movie sparked massive dance crazes such as the Hustle and the Night Fever, and dance students of today wishing to re-create dances from the 1970s can use the film as a visual textbook.

The most popular dances from the 1970s were nearly all disco-based. Disco was a musical form that blended elements of Latin rhythms, soulful vocals and funky back beats. Extended mixes of hit songs — comprising at times the entire side of a long-playing record — were spun by club disc jockeys to keep the dance floor packed. Dances of the period were more individual in nature, rather than tailored to couples. Much of the dancing was freestyle, simply moving to the beat of the music.

Disco was popular during the 1970s.
Disco was popular during the 1970s.

The disco era also revived the 1950s tradition of line dancing. This style of dance features a group of individuals facing each other, performing a set of four-wall pattern steps without partners. Disco line dances from the 1970s include the L.A. Hustle, also known as the Bus Stop, a simple sequence of forward and back steps with coordinated hand claps and side-to-side motions. The Hot Chocolate was an updated version of the Hully Gully, an early 1960s dance craze. Other popular line dances from the 1970s were the Rollercoaster, the Disco Duck and the New Yorker.

Much of the dancing in the 1970s was freestyle.
Much of the dancing in the 1970s was freestyle.

The Bump could be done in a line or with only one partner. As the name implies, dancers positioned themselves side by side and gently bumped their partner's hip to the beat. Latin dancing enjoyed mainstream appeal once again with partners utilizing elaborate choreography that incorporated elements of older styles of salsa and swing dancing. The Cha-Cha, the Mambo, the Rumba, and the Tango were back in style once more. One brief fad during the late '70s was Roller Disco, which was simply disco dancing on roller skates.

Roller Disco consisted of disco dancing on roller skates during the late '70s.
Roller Disco consisted of disco dancing on roller skates during the late '70s.

While disco certainly predominated the 1970s dance scene, other new forms of dance were also emerging in the underground. As punk rock and heavy metal bands took the world by storm, dancing became as aggressive as the music itself. Moshing, head-banging and body surfing had dancers haphazardly slamming into one another on the dance floor, while Pogo dancing involved jumping up and down to the beat like a pogo stick. New dances like Popping and Locking and the Robot, in which the dancer moved like an automaton, also gained popularity during the 1970s. The Backslide was later immortalized by Michael Jackson and became forever known as the Moonwalk.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some iconic dances from the 1970s that I can learn?

The tango came back in style in the 1970s.
The tango came back in style in the 1970s.

The 1970s were a vibrant era for dance, with several iconic moves that are still celebrated today. The Hustle, popularized by Van McCoy's song, became a dance floor staple. The Bump, a fun and easy dance involving partners bumping hips, was also widely enjoyed. The Robot, with its jerky, mechanical movements, showcased the era's fascination with technology. Additionally, the Funky Chicken and the YMCA dance, which originated from the Village People's hit song, are memorable dances that capture the spirit of the '70s.

Where can I find tutorials or resources to learn 1970s dances?

To learn 1970s dances, you can explore a variety of online resources. YouTube is an excellent platform where you can find step-by-step tutorials for dances like The Hustle or The Bump. Websites dedicated to dance, such as DanceClass.com, offer lessons on disco dancing, which was prevalent in the '70s. For a more immersive experience, local dance studios often host themed classes or workshops focusing on retro dance styles, where you can learn in a group setting.

What music should I practice 1970s dances to?

Practicing 1970s dances to the era's music will enhance the authenticity of your experience. For The Hustle, try "The Hustle" by Van McCoy. For The Bump, "Get Up and Boogie" by Silver Convention is a great choice. When practicing The Robot, "Mr. Roboto" by Styx, although released in the early '80s, captures the robotic essence. And for the YMCA dance, the Village People's "YMCA" is the quintessential track. These songs embody the energy and rhythm necessary for mastering '70s dance moves.

What attire is appropriate for re-creating 1970s dances?

Authentic attire can make re-creating 1970s dances even more fun. For men, think bell-bottom pants, polyester shirts with bold patterns, and platform shoes. Women often wore high-waisted flared jeans or skirts, halter tops, and wrap dresses with vibrant prints. Don't forget accessories like headbands, wide belts, and oversized sunglasses. For footwear, platform shoes or boots for both genders were a hallmark of the '70s dance scene. Dressing the part can add to the overall experience and get you in the right groove.

Are there any health benefits to learning dances from the 1970s?

Learning dances from the 1970s offers numerous health benefits. According to the American Council on Exercise, dancing can improve cardiovascular health, increase stamina, strengthen muscles, and enhance flexibility. The upbeat and energetic nature of '70s dances, such as The Hustle or The Bump, can also serve as an effective aerobic workout, burning calories and reducing stress. Moreover, dancing has been shown to improve balance and spatial awareness, making it a holistic activity for both physical and mental well-being.

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Discussion Comments

Buster29

It seems like some of the dances from the later 1970s were available on instructional videotapes at the time. I'm thinking more along the lines of breakdance and other urban dances, but there were also some tapes on the Hustle and other line dances. I'd also suggest watching reruns of TV shows like Soul Train and American Bandstand, since those dancers were often showing off the latest moves at the time.

RocketLanch8

I grew up during the 1970s, and we actually learned some of our line dances in gym class. I remember it was one of the few times that the gym teachers combined the girls' and boys' classes. The teachers played songs from Saturday Night Fever and other music from the 1970s, like Do the Hustle.

We learned how to do the Hustle, and another line dance called the Continental. If someone wanted to recreate dances like that from the 1970s, I'm sure parents around my age still remember those basic steps. I've been to some clubs that have modern line dancing, and I'd say a lot of those new dances are very similar to line dances from the 70s.

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    • Disco was popular during the 1970s.
      By: nikkytok
      Disco was popular during the 1970s.
    • Much of the dancing in the 1970s was freestyle.
      By: Alexander Yakovlev
      Much of the dancing in the 1970s was freestyle.
    • Roller Disco consisted of disco dancing on roller skates during the late '70s.
      By: sumnersgraphicsinc
      Roller Disco consisted of disco dancing on roller skates during the late '70s.
    • The tango came back in style in the 1970s.
      By: Samo Trebizan
      The tango came back in style in the 1970s.