“Girl group music had emerged at the same time as all these new dance crazes that redefined how boys and girls did– or more accurately, did not– dance with each other. Chubby Checker’s 1960 hit “The Twist” revolutionized teenage dancing, because it meant that boys and girls didn’t have to hold hands anymore, boys didn’t have to lead and girls didn’t have to follow so girls had a lot more autonomy and control as they danced.”
-Susan Douglas, Where the Girls Are

I was flabbergasted to watch old 1957 episodes of American Bandstand and discover the girl-dominated audience members dancing with each other in traditional “leader and follower” style. One girl would be “the boy” and the other would be “the girl” as they grooved to the Bandstand hits, in a more or less homosocial enclave. Girls, though more eager to dance than boys (as is evidenced by their numbers in the audience of Bandstand), were forced into subservience should they have the “honor” of being asked to the main dance floor by one of the producer cast stock males in attendance. Is the pervasive “Dance Craze” phenomena a response to the problem of gender on the dance floor?

Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” (1960):

Kylie Minogue’s 80s remake of Little Eva’s “Locomotion” (1962):

Los Del Rio’s Macarena:

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