A Brief History of the Dad Dance
Do you ever wonder where dads get their cringe worthy dances from? Whilst I applaud anyone, regardless of skill, who has the enthusiasm to dance when the moment needs it, unwarranted confidence mixed with sub-par physical ability often leads to moves closer to the jerks of an injured animal than the smooth, sexy look that dads are so often going for.
One thing I’ve noticed, however, is the variation in approach between dads who’ve grown up in different eras or areas, so I’ve rounded up the most popular dance styles of our parent’s decades. See if you can spot which crazes and trends contribute to your dad’s attempt at dancefloor prowess at your next stag do, wedding or work night out.
Originating from the US in the early 30s, jive is a fast, lively form of swing dancing which became popular in the UK in the 40s after American soldiers introduced the dance to Europe.
If your dad is around 80 years old and can still work his magic on the dancefloor, you’ll probably be able to notice the influence of the jive on his moves.
As the post-war vibe faded and the jive fell out of fashion, rock ‘n’ roll music and the twist became the order of the day. Despite enjoying immense popularity amongst the youth of the late 50s and early 60s, the twist was criticized for being too provocative. Characterized by low posture and focus on vigorous arm-based moves, you can most likely see the influence of the twist on your dad’s dancing repertoire if he’s in his early 70s.
Does your dad fancy himself as a rock star? Did he spend his youth headbanging to Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath? Then, like me, you’ve probably seen him erupt into a frenzy of wild arm gestures at the first hint of a guitar solo. Given that the style of rock music associated with air guitar had its heyday in the mid-to-late 70s, your dad is probably in his 50s if he’s a big fan of the dance style.
If your dad spent his younger years north of Birmingham in the mid-to-late 70s, his dancing is most likely influenced by Northern Soul.
Unlike most of the trends of the era that focussed on the most up-to-date sounds and records, the DJs of the Northern Soul scene focussed on discovering previously overlooked motown and soul records from the previous decade. The dancing was ambitious, competitive and audacious which, if he’s from the era, your dad most likely still thinks he can pull off now.
You’re probably aware of disco’s origins in the gay, black and latino communities of New York, as well as its popularization amongst a more mainstream audience in the late 70s with groups such as the Bee Gees.
Disco dancing, now associated mostly with John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever, is characterized by exaggerated hip movements and big, showy, raised arms. If your dad was born around 1960, then his dancing style was probably influenced by disco.
- Jack Rayner