Sports history: the world of dance

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A hall filled with dancers. Wikipedia Commons

Finding balance through style

What is one of the best ways to get exercise without feeling like you are actually exercising? By shaking your groove thing and hitting the dance floor with friends. Although we may not be able to do that in current circumstances, we still have the ability to reminisce about the styles we grew up watching on television or ones we did ourselves. Here is a look at the last 100 years of dance and all the wonderful craziness that has come with it.

 Let’s take it all the way back to the 1920s where we step into the swing scene. This comes with big band music and the joy of social dancing. If you want to be social while dancing, swing dancing is where you want to be. Twirling around the dance floor with your friends and lovers is what makes everyone gravitate towards these movies and scenes. Not only does it look like a ton of fun, but it would be fun to take part in as well.

In the 1930s we have what is now known as the moonwalk as the craze. You may be thinking that this was created by the staple Michael Jackson but think again. The jazz icon Cab Calloway was the creator of this dance and it was formerly known as “the buzz” before being rebranded later on by Jackson. This dance allowed individuals to show off their own moves solo for the world to see.

Following the Great Depression, in the 1940s everyone was so excited to get together and celebrate all that life had to offer that we cannot just pin one dance to this decade. We can however say that the mambo and East Coast Swing were the styles of choice. Once again it was all about those partner dances. It was fun, lively and sociable. The music that went along with this style was one that continued to make spirits soar after such a difficult previous decade and it was the best way for everyone to release these difficult times. Toss away the bad and swing into the new!

The 1950s is where dance really begins to pivot. We have the start of contemporary dance but the big headliner is the hand jive! Who could pass up the opportunity to aggressively dance with their hands at extremely high speeds? Nobody! However if you have bad wrists and the hand jive is not your thing you are in luck. This decade is also known for the cha cha which was something very easy that everyone could learn. This presented everyone with something that they could learn with ease which was a steep change from all the swinging of the previous decade.

As time passes we start to get into more individualistic dances. 1960s brought forth popping and locking along with the robot. As hip hop was making its way into the music scene more predominantly we needed a dance that would go along with it which introduced us to our poppers and lockers and, yes, they are different movements. We also get to experience the interesting joy that techno brings with robotic dance moves. Step aside partner dancing, it is time for the solo dancers to strut their stuff.

 What is more iconic than the big hair and the even bigger sleeves of the 1970s? Oh wait – that would be the disco moves that come along with it! This decade introduced the beginning of what we can consider the nightclub scene and what is better than hustling the night away with your girlfriends? Although the riff raff of the day were hitting the clubs, the tamer audiences could enjoy the other rising star known as the salsa. This decade provided a little bit of everything for all groups.

The madness that was the 1980s introduced us to dance styles that we still see present today. One that may be less obvious is voguing. It is time to strut yourself and bring out your inner supermodel my friends, voguing was born and was here to stay. Although this has only stuck with a limited group of people, what has made its place in history and is determined to stay is the dances that went along with good old fashion rock ‘n’ roll. We now have the joy of mosh pits and what is known as jacking which is the basic back and forth motion we make with our entire body. For those who say that they cannot dance just need to take a page from the book of the 80s as there is nothing overly fancy or technical about this decades dance style. We are here for a good time, not a fancy time.

            We all know the classic workout videos that we tend to mock nowadays. Well the 1990s birthed the dance version of this, Zumba. Working up a sweat is really easy with these choreographed dance programs. Not only are they easy to do but they are also something that you can do from the comfort of your home. There may need to be some serious consideration to allow this trend to come back for the rest of the pandemic. Grab your best sweatband and neon pants and let’s go Zumba.

One day craze that looks like it is going to successfully because injury is the 2000s krumping trend. The controlled flailing looking movements and sporadic body motions allowed for this trend to fit perfectly with the rising music trend of that decade, hip hop. krumping originally started in Los Angeles as a well-known street dance before infiltrating the mainstream dance trends. Although many people may not be able to do it well, it is still a ton of fun to watch.

Finally, the 2010s brought forth a little bit of everything. We have yet to settle on one but we had many that were associated with very specific songs. The Dougie, Gangnam style, Hotline Bling and many more were featured within this final full decade. Many dances were associated with specific songs or artists and it was a matter of keeping up with the latest hits.

As we look at the 2020s, we can be curious as to which trends are going to stick. Are we going to be known for the Tiktok dances that have surfaced, or is there something else entirely that we have yet to see? Until we have the ability to go out and enjoy dancing together, crank your favourite hits and enjoy a dance party for one. Happy dancing.

Sarah Nakonechny

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