Mental Floss

The Origins of 5 American Dance Crazes

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BY ADAM ROSEN

1. Fight for Your Right to Electric Slide

Many people are too embarrassed to admit they know how to do the electric slide, but Richard Silver wasn't one of them. Silver was a fixture of the New York disco scene, and he choreographed the electric slide in 1976. As the dance craze caught on, he was horrified to discover people doing just 18 of his 22-step routine. So he did what any self-righteous dance creator would do and spent years threatening to sue anyone who bungled his moves. He even made YouTube take down videos of people dancing the slide at their weddings and bar mitzvahs. But Silver never actually sued anyone; he just made threats. In 2007, a civil rights organization called his bluff and sued him on behalf of a man whose dance party clips had been removed from the Internet. The incident convinced Silver to stop hounding amateur dancers.

2. The Soul-Crushing Origins of the Limbo

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3. Striking a Pose, When It Counts

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4. The Courage to Trot Like a Turkey

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One unfortunate young lady in New Jersey actually served 50 days in jail just for dancing like a turkey.

It should also be noted that the Turkey Trot is only one of many food- or animal-inspired dances that have been accused of corrupting America's youth. There's also the Bunny Hug, the Cakewalk, the Mashed Potato, the Duck Dance, and the Chicken Noodle Soup, to name a few.

5. Breakdancing: Settling It Old School

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This article is excerpted from mental_floss magazine's Jan/Feb 2009 issue. To order your own subscription, click here.

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