Dance Crazes

See The Dancing Class … this continues

It’s Dance Time: Various Artists, Golden Guinea LP

The Hully-Gully wasn’t that different from The Madison, that invention of the old dance band leaders, … but it’s what the kids actually did instead.  It had been around since at least 1959, when The Olympics recorded a song with the title, though the name was known in the 1920s. The steps were less elaborate, the lining up was fun. If people were serious about it, a caller shouted out moves. In the film The Wanderers a line of girls is doing what looks like the Hully Gully (to My Boyfriend’s Back – which has the requisite claps) and one shouts instructions … Pop-Eye and everyone does a sailor salute. We never got that elaborate at my youth club. The Dovells had done Hully Gully Baby, but the one we all loved was Hully Gully by Delbert McClinton on Decca. It never charted, but a lot of bands covered it. McClinton was from Texas, and had been in England touring with Bruce Channel (Hey, Baby) which is how come he was releasing on a British record label. He was famed for the harmonica part on Hey, Baby which inspired John Lennon on Love Me Do.

I recall a brief popularity for the hand jive, particularly on early British TV pop programmes. I suppose it caused less disruption than people trying to dance over trailing camera cables. Johnny Otis was accused of writing a song (Willie & The Hand Jive) about masturbation, but always denied it, though the ‘willie’ does make the accusation logical.

All The Hits For Your Dancing Party: Chubby Checker LP, Cameo-Parkway 1963

Hank Ballard watched the twist take off in Chubby Checker’s hands and produced The Continental Walk in 1961, a vain effort to recapture the glory of a dance craze. For the next five years or so, labels desperately sought another twist phenomenon with Chubby Checker ever hopeful of hitting another twist level hit. He was relentless. He did them all.

Limbo Rock: Chubby Checker, single Cameo-Parkway 1963
This is the sleeve it was bought in. Pye often put subsidiary label discs in Pye sleeves when they ran short. Many Cameo-Parkway discs came in this sleeve new.

The Limbo (Chubby Checker again) had a party trick appeal. Basically you had to limbo under a stick held by two people that got lower and lower. And sooner or later you fell flat on your arse, while everyone roared with laughter. Years later, being treated for a slipped disc (Did you know this is an old injury… ) the memory comes back.

New Musical Express: front page advert 2 November 1962

The real boys dance was the Can-Can. Peter Jay & The Jaywalkers launched a speeded up version of the can-can, Can-Can ’62.  The boys would line up, arms round each other’s shoulders, and then high kick their way maniacally down the dance hall. Girls never joined in. It always caused fights. It caused injuries. It caused blood splatters on the floor. Dance halls banned the Can-Can across the nation, and had to be persuaded to lift the ban to allow Peter Jay & The Jaywalkers to perform their only hit (number 31) in their brief span of glory when playing support on the huge Beatles tours, where they stood manfully playing inaudibly under a hurricane of screams.

Can-Can 62: Peter Jay & The Jaywalkers, single, Decca 1962

Back to our dancing class (see The Dancing Class) … Cyril and Dawn Rumbold saw the can-can just the once, when they foolishly encouraged their dancing class clientele to bring their own records to the Annual Christmas function. It brought on one of Dawn’s migraines, but Cheryl was the first girl ever to join the high kicking line-up, having been plied with far too much Babycham by Cyril, who no doubt had ulterior motives. Everyone was much impressed with the black lacy knickers that were revealed.

The old dance bands didn’t give up, they fought their way through to the Loco-motion at least. They classed the bossa-nova in there, but that’s hard. Ballrrom dancing, to me.

Be With It! Cyril Stapleton & His Show Band, EP, Decca 1962

Gallery click to enlarge

They tried the loco-motion, the hucklebuck, the mashed potatoes, the monster mash, the pony, the horse, the watusi, the monkey, the fly, the dog, the philly dog, the hippy hippy shake, the pop-eye, the bird, the duck, the turkey trot, the dog, the funky chicken, the greasy frog, the jerk, the shake, the shimmy, the stomp, the stroll, the swim, the push, the hitch-hike, the walk, the stroll, the wobble, the waddle, the lurch, the crawl, the wiggle, the loop de loop, the skate, the shuffle, the bump, the boomerang, the twine, the hanky panky, the matador, the 81, the roach.

They even had the shag in the USA leading to years of trans-Atlantic pretended misunderstanding rivalling the wordplays on rubbers and knocking up.

What caught on? In early 60s America, people lined up to try elaborate dances, and performed them assiduously. This was promoted by Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.

Dick Clark: Kids brought the new dances to the show. Except for the Bunny Hop, I don’t think ever there was a dance created by Philadelphia record men or Madison Avenue ad men. Sometimes however, a new dance step evolved without a specific record to do the new dance to. When that happened I immediately called my friends in the record businesswhen the kids saw adults trying to twist and heard it was the rage of the 40 year olds, they shuddered and turned to other dances.

In the UK we all waited with relief for the Shake where you didn’t have to do much. American Bandstand explains why Philadelphia label Cameo-Parkway was the most enthusiastic dance craze record label (released on Columbia in the UK in 1961 and 1962, before they shifted to Pye and got their own imprint.) Obviously they had Chubby Checker, but they also had The Dovells doing the Bristol Stomp (US #2), The Orlons doing The Wah-Watusi (US #2) and Dee Dee Sharp doing Mashed Potato Time (also US #2 and R&B #1). The girl group sound particularly suited dance records. Kal Mann and Dave Appell were Cameo-Parkway’s hit factory, writing a major proportion of their hits.

All The Hits By All The Stars: Golden Guinea, LP, 1962

One of my first three LPs was All The Hits By All The Stars, a mid-price Golden Guinea compilation of Cameo-Parkway American hits. I received three LPs at Christmas 1962. How my friends scoffed, when I could have had The Shadows or Cliff Richard. All these years on, it’s an album that stands up really well. The Bristol Stomp, Bristol Twistin’ Annie, Wah-Watusi, Mashed Potato Time, Gravy (For My Mashed Potato), The Hucklebuck, The Twist, Pony Time. OK, you may want to skip Bobby Rydell, as I always did. For a record that spent its early years on heavy rotation on a Dansette it still plays extremely well- a testament to vinyl, and to Pye’s Golden Guinea range which didn’t scrimp on pressing quality.

The Bristol Stomp always puzzled us in South-West England. We never thought of The kids in Bristol are sharp as a pistol, when they do the Bristol Stomp. My friends’ band often played in Bristol in the mid-60s and it seemed most unlikely. Many years later I discovered that Bristol is a blue-collar suburb of Philadelphia. Philly gets it again.

Parkway promotion man Billy Harper entered the studio, excitedly talking about a new dance kids were doing called The Stomp at the Goodwill Fire Hall in Bristol, just outside Philadelphia. Jerry remembered, “Billy put on a student’s record of “Everyday of the Week”, and you’ll notice the guitar riff at the beginning sounds familiar, and that’s what they were dancing to. Kal and Dave said “Hey, we should write a song called “The Bristol Stomp” and they did overnight. They came in the next day and said, “Let’s record this.” 
The Dovells, clasicbands.com

One sure fire idea for dance records was name checking others … Let’s Dance by Chris Montez is the classic, along with Land of 1000 Dances. Back on Mashed Potato Time they namecheck The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Please Mr Postman and add They’re even doin’ it to Dear Lady Twist. Mashed Potato Time was re-recorded in 1996 and its fate was an advertising campaign for instant mashed potato.

The Locomotion: Little Eva, 45 rpm 1972 reissue on London, using the LP sleeve design

Apart from the Hully Gully and The Can Can, and at parties, the Limbo, the only one I can remember kids actually doing was the Locomotion. That was because it was a brilliant record, but also it could easily be transformed into a conga line and everyone loved the conga. The record, written by Goffin and King was done as a demo using Little Eva, their babysitter. It was intended for Dee Dee Sharp as a follow up to Mashed Potato Time but Goffin-King declined to cut her management in by putting it out via their publishing company.

Dance crazes had worn out by 1965. Not that people stopped dancing, and there were fads for loon dancing or pogo dancing and so on, but the interest in novel set routines had gone. Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols claimed to have invented pogo dancing (basically jumping up and down on the spot) but, no doubt to Sid’s deep chagrin, it can be traced back to film of a Pink Floyd concert ten years earlier. Pogo dancing evolved into moshing and slamming, none recommended and it’s a stretch to consider either ‘dancing.’ The Wall of Death was the ultimate hardcore punk slamming (with two sides) and it looks all too reminiscent of where we started with Can Can 62.

There were later records which looked like dance crazes, notably Joe Tex’s Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman) a UK #2 hit in 1977, but it didn’t have people lining up to bump bottoms while listening to it. The Bump as such existed long before the record. That evolved into grinding and the lambada. Again, these lack the formality of those early 60s dance crazes.

We once did a video shoot in Southampton, Long Island and it was the era of the film Dirty Dancing. As we were filming in the street, we rented a room in a dance school as a changing / rest area (aka the green room). It must be long gone, and I can’t recall the name but it began with D and had a Latin edge … let’s say it was ‘Diego’s Dirty Dancing Academy.’ T-shirts were on sale and we all bought one, much to the proprietor’s delight.

Ace Land of 1000 Dances series

Ace records did four sets in the series. The fourth was the All Twistin’ Edition (see The Twist).

The sleeves show the 86 dance songs they chose. I’d recommend any of them. There was no shame in writing dance songs … Sly Stone co-wrote Bobby Freeman’s C’mon & Swim. Smokey Robinson wrote Mickey’s Monkey. Curtis Mayfield wrote The Monkey Time.

Ten dance craze classics …

I prefer The Swingin’ Blue Jeans cover of Hippy Hippy Shake to the older 1959 original by Chan Romero. Little Tony had had a minor hit in the UK and Italy with his cover.

artisttitleyearUS
chart
UK
chart
Jimmy McCracklinThe Walk19577
Johnny Otis ShowWillie & The Hand Jive19589
Chris MontezLet’s Dance196242
Dee Dee SharpMashed Potato Time19622
The DovellsBristol Stomp19612
Little EvaThe Locomotion196212
Delbert McClintonHully Gully1963
Bobby FreemanC’mon & Swim19645
The Swingin’ Blue JeansHippy Hippy Shake1964242
Bobby ComstockLet’s Stomp196357

Ten soul dance craze classics …

artisttitleyearUS
chart
UK
chart
Chris KennerLand of 1000 Dances196277
Marvin GayeHitch Hike196330
The MiraclesMickey’s Monkey19638
Major LanceThe Monkey Time19632
Shirley EllisThe Nitty Gritty19638
Rufus ThomasWalkin’ The Dog196510
Lee DorseyRide Your Pony196528
Robert ParkerBarefootin’19667
Bob & EarlHarlem Shuffle 1963(1963) 44(1969) #7
The CapitolsCool Jerk19667
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