The impromptu dance moves made by Hank Ballard and his boys while playing his song 'The Twist', in 1959, gave birth to a new dance form called the Twist. Dick Clark, the American DJ and host for American Bandstand, stirred up the local Philadelphia label, Cameo/Parkway to launch their version of the song. They roped in Chubby Checker, an upcoming singer, to tape the song. Chubby Checker's twist record made the 60s generation groove to the twist moves. One can dance to these moves alone or with a partner. It's great fun when a large group of people do it together.
This dance form caught the fancy of not only the teens, but also their parents, because anyone could do it without much effort. Many twist songs were recorded and they all became bestsellers. In the UK, The Beatles with their Twist and Shout, and the Swinging Blue Jeans with their hit song Hippy Hippy Shake, gave an additional momentum to the Twist culture. The dance moves are very similar to the ones involved in rock and roll. The craze for this dance move slowly faded as either people overdid it, or there were no new steps introduced. The steps involved in dancing the Twist are as follows.
Step 1: Stand with your feet one or two feet apart. Your right foot should be slightly forward than the left. You should shift your weight from your right leg to your left as you twist.
Step 2: Hold your arms away from the body, slightly bent at the elbows. The arms help to twist your body side to side.
Step 3: Just as you unscrew a bottle cap, twist your waist, hips, and legs from left to right. Keep your arms stationary and move on the balls of your feet.
Step 4: As you twist, lean your body forward towards the front leg and then bend backwards, shifting your weight on the back leg, as you continue to twist.
Step 5: If you can, squat to the dance floor as you twist and move back up. You can twist with different speeds and intensities, according to the rhythm of the music. You can also jump in the air slightly and bend one leg to add style.
Some of the famous songs which had the 60s generation twisting are as follows.
- Hank Ballard and the Midnighters (1960) - The Hoochi Coochi Coo
- Chubby Checker (1961) - Let's Twist Again
- Sam Cooke (1962) - Twistin' the Night Away
- Elvis Presley (1963) - Bossa Nova Baby
- Rufus Thomas (1964) - Somebody Stole My Dog
- Junior Walker and the All Stars (1965) - Do the Boomerang
- The Olympics (1966) - Baby, Do the Philly Dog
- Wilson Pickett (1967) - Funky Broadway
- Rufus Thomas (1970) - (Do the) Push and Pull, Part 1
The twist is one of the easiest dance forms which does not require any formal training. You can do it by standing in one place or moving up and down. You can clap as you twist or sway your hands as if trying to wipe a board clean with a duster. Move your feet on the floor as if grinding the floor or killing a bug. You can add your own moves to create a new step. Once you get it right, there is nothing that can stop you from having fun with the 'Twist'.