1. The Twist (1960s)
The twist was a rock ‘n’ roll move that brought generations together – probably because it was easy enough that everyone could do it. It hit the UK in 1961, a year after it became popular in the US. The dance was perfect for the revolutionary era, as there is no leader – making it the first move where the genders are seen as equal.
2. The Disco Point (1970s)
Films like Saturday Night Fever helped propel disco into the mainstream in the ’70s. It involved a lot of pointing and arm flailing. The disco point was best performed in a pair of tight-fitting Angels Flight pants, to complement all the hip- and crotch-swinging.
4. The Moon Walk (1980s)
Made famous by Michael Jackson, this dance has its roots in moves by Cab Calloway in 1932, and “popping” street dance in the ’80s. It’s probably best to practice this one with socks on a slippery floor at home before trying in public, because it’s pretty hard to nail down.
6. The Running Man (Late 1980s)
Not to be confused with the 2016 Running Man, the ’80s Running Man kind of looks like what you do on a rowing machine at the gym, but your legs move, too. Janet Jackson’s iconic video for “Rhythm Nation” accounted for the dance’s spread in the ’80s, and it was adopted by a bunch of other artists.
7. The Mosh Pit (Late 1980s)
Moshing has its origins in hardcore punk and metal music but crossed over into the mainstream in the late ’80s, and became a given for most concerts, regardless of genre, and a thing we all tried to do at festivals. There isn’t any skill involved beyond throwing yourself into others, so if you can do that, you’re all set.
8. Irish Dancing (1990s)
Irish stepdancing exploded in popularity after Riverdance’s performance on Eurovision, and the music video to “C’est la Vie” probably helped, too. It’s not really a move you could do at a club, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a ’90s kid who didn’t try to do this on the playground.
9. The Rave (1990s)
A lot of rave dance moves resemble breakdancing ones, but with a ton of glowsticks and fluorescent colours involved. Rave was born out of warehouses during the ’80s acid-house era and eventually became its own (massive) subculture in the ’90s.
11. The Dougie (early 2010s)
The Dougie is named after rapped Doug E. Fresh who performed a variation of the dance in the ’80s. But it blew up after Cali Swag District released “Teach Me How to Dougie” in 2010, which put a Dougie how-to to a super infectious beat.
12. The Twerk (2010s)
While associated for a lot of us with, erm, a woman in a flesh-coloured bikini and a dude dressed like Beetlejuice, twerking has a history that goes back much further than 2013. Twerking came from the early ’90s bounce scene in New Orleans, which is very similar to Mapouka, a dance from West Africa that’s existed for centuries.
13. The Whip and Nae Nae (2010s)
This one’s another move that brought generations together, as everyone from athletes to grandmas – even babies! – have done it. A great thing about the Nae Nae is that adding your own personal flair is actually a part of the dance, so you can’t really get it wrong.