Eighties Dances

This is a list and description of various eighties dances. The eighties in general didn't spawn dance crazes like the sixties did, but there's a couple I can think of. So far I've just listed a few dances based on songs, but the eighties did spawn Ska and Breakdancing. Both of which I believe got their start in the seventies, but got it's popular recognition in the eighties (though Ska seems to be much more popular in the nineties than Breakdancing).

This page currently edited by: Rio Rhodes. Past editor: Banasy

The African Anteater Ritual
Please see Patrick Dempsey's "Can't Buy Me Love" from 1986 for instruction - it's a bit difficult to explain! Huge hit at parties to this day!
The Alf
The alf is very simple. You just bend at the knee but with you toe pointed and then thrust both arms downward while in a a fist toward the bent knee. The do the opposite leg. Repeat over and over and stay with the beat!
The Alligator
You lay down on the floor, bend your knees to your stomach, then kick your legs (alternating) from your knees down. (popular on ABC's Full House)
The Axel Rose
Hold on to a fake microphone stand and, with head lowered, move one leg out to the side, only about a foot off of the ground. As soon as your foot hits the ground, immediately repeat move with other leg. Repeat at least 10 times. As seen on "Sweet Child Of Mine" and other Guns & Roses late-eighties videos.
Back The Bus Up
Hands out slightly bent closed fist like your hands on a steering wheel. Have them a little farther out then shoulder width. Yhen slowly walk backwards with small steps. Keep your head looking both ways and turn your hands like your moving a steering wheel.
The Bedrock
Named for a popular song that was out at the time. Swing your arms back and forth, while stepping side to side in sync with the music.
The Belinda
The dance is done by bending your arms at the elbows and moving them side to side while kind of snapping your fingers. Your lower body should be twisting slightly.
The Bingo Boy
Made famous in the song by the Bingo Boys "How To Dance". Step left, around, together with the right, stand straight, bend knees, thrust hips. Was huge in the clubs.
Boogie Down
This dance was in the hit song "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!. It works best if you have long hair. You sway your head in a circle and twist your arms around. Keep your legs in place but sway them around. You will be a hit on the dance floor.
Caustic Potash
Let your arms fall in a rhythmic wave-ish motion and then lower your head and swing it the way a fish swings his head when he/she swims. Then repeat.
The Chinese Typewriter
Jumping side-to-side reversing toes-in, toes out.
Churnin' Butter
With your arms slightly bent out in front of you, make one fist on top of the other and move them around in circles like you are churning butter...
Dancin' In The Dark Improved
Hang arms by side, and lock elbows (bent) onto hip. Looks like you're doing yoga. Swing arms back and forward pivoted at the hips, up in front of body, then back behind you outstretched
The Deathrocker
This dance was mostly seen withen the "deathrocker community" Music this was danced to was Depeche Mode, Siouxsie and the Banshees, New Order, and The Cure. Basically the dance was much like belly dancing with the hand movements, minus the grinding.
The Dolphin
Similar to the "snake", but moving forward. The chin dips down, head lifts up and the body follows: ribs, stomach, hips, knees and then two steps back with the feet.
The E.T.
Hold your arms straight down, hands fisted and shuffle side to side. Slightly lift your leg as you shift your body weight from side to side.
Ed Lover Dance
From Yo MTV Raps. With both arms out to the sides, step with your right and pop your right hip forward, then to the left with the left hip, then back to the right twice, left, right, left, left.
Fairy Dance
Okay, not politically correct but that's what it was called. You hold your hands and lower arms out in front of you loosely, waving them about, while the rest of your body sways to the music. Usually a dance done to the Smiths or similar depressing music.
Fancy Feet
This dance is a simple move that travels a short distance from side to side. Start with your toes turned inwards and then lift up your right toe and your left heel and kind of twist them separately to the right so they turn outwards. Keep repeating. This move is seen frequently in Michael Jackson's 'Black or White' video.
Very big with the Rap music fans. Basically like doing the moonwalk but in place. Stepping one foot in front of the other, then spelling out the word "FILA". Taking your right toes and touching your left toes with heel away from the other forming an "F". Then returning your right heel back to its place to form the "I" and turning your right toes away to form an "L". Finally touching once again your two right toes to form an "A".
The Fishing Pole
You cast your line out and reel it in. Pretty simple but all done to the beat of the music.
Have your hands on each side of you hand and have someone pretend they are wheeling a real fish in but as they do that you have to keep your hands on each side of your hand and as they are doing that move forward towards the person and move your arms that are still on your head
Freak Dancing Or Freaking
Legs apart, knees slightly or deeply bent, thrust hips forward with partner's knee bent between your leg.
Funky Alien
Put one of your hands under your shirt and pump your fist while pushing out your shirt from underneath simulating the alien being born out of your stomach like the movie. Lower body movements vary from gyrating to writhing in simulated pain.
The Gigolo
I thought you kind of spread your legs as wide as your shoulders,hips stationary, and your shoulders did this "cool" slight sway thing while your head rhythmically bobbed back and forth in a small motion. You would lean back and perform this to the right, then the left...
The "Go" Song
Extend one arm and do so with the other as you do this say "Stop, Stop!".Then do the Cabbage Patch dance saying "Go _______________" you say any name in replace of the blank.
The Graple
It's a rather strange looking "dance" where you grab someone else, be it by the collar or shoulders, and shake them violently to the music, while they "graple" onto you and you shake each other. Something you'd see at those old punk shows, and I saw it in a sex pistols video
The Guess
Bend your knees and push them to the left, following the motion with your left hand as though you were pushing away an over eager dog. Stand up straight, then do the same thing to the right. The idea is to make angular movements with your knees and hands, resembling the "Guess" triangle.
The Hammer Dance
By M.C. Hammer, he wore those baggy genie pants, keep legs wide apart, slightly bents, shuffle quickly one way, then the other.
Hangin' Tough
Put your left arm in the air and wave it from side to side.
Happy Feet
Kind of like the Hokey Pokey. You hop from your right and left leg while pointing the opposite foot outward.
The Headache
It was first performed by Janet Jackson in the video where she is in a big dance studio, she is alone and she shows off the cabbage patch as well. You swing your head back to the right then down and back to the other side, then repeat. Bending your arms and swinging them the same way your head is moving.
Hello Kitty
You put your feet together side-by-side and open your legs through your knees. then you descend lower as you close your knees once, open your knees once you descend to the ground, use your hands to push off of your knees and arch your back before coming all the way up(stick your butt out)
1 hand on forehead and other arm on hip and twist body then switch hands until dance is over!!
The Ickey Shuffle
Originator Ickey Woods popularized this maneuver as a celebratory touchdown dance during the Cincinnati Bengals 1988 season. Football in right hand, extend right arm, shuffle two steps to right; switch football to left hand, extend left arm, shuffle two steps to left; rinse and repeat.
It was the last hot dance craze of the 80s, a high-performance version of Dirty Dancing. You just basically straddle your partner's thigh and bump and grind. Sometimes the man spins the woman at lighting-fast speeds. It was - and still is - by far the sexiest dance I've ever known.
Leg Kick Line
At a club in Salt Lake City called Confetti's every time Come on Eileen by Dexy's Midnight Runners came on we would form a straight line shoulder in shoulder, arms over the person next to you, when the music in the last section slowed down. As the music sped back up we would do alternating leg kicks on each beat, first knee kick then leg kick, switch legs, knee kick then leg kick, switch legs. As the music gets faster so does the kicking till, if you were fast enough you could kick all the way though the fast beats, then the group would break up for the end of the song.
The Love Bird
Put your hands in front of you and join at the thumbs in the shape of a dove if you were doing shadow puppets. Clasp the "dove" to your chest while turning side on and then release and flap the doves wings while you push your hands away from your chest
Michael Jackson Circles
This dance is another one of Michael Jacksons illusionistic dances, but just because it's an illusion dance doens't mean it doesn't need skill. What you should do is stand up straight and slide your feet in a box shape. When you do this you don't just want to slide them, you want to keep rotating from the balls of your feet to the heel. And because your feet are moving your body should be moving in the same direction, and when going into the turns, kind of lean of pretend your getting sucked in that way. And do this repeatedly.
Milking the Cow
With your arms at right angles to your body, you pantomime the motion of milking a cow accentuating the motion in your arms and shoulders.
Molly Ringwald Dance
The "molly ringwald dance" that dance she was trying to do actually has a name it's call The Clone or Cloning.
You move one foot backwards keeping all your foot on the floor while your static foot has its heel raised. Keep changing foots. It shud look as if you are walking forward but the floor is pulling you back. A MJ classic what a guy.
The Muppet
You make your hands in to a fist and hold them close together then move them to one side and shake them twice, then twice to the other side, like the Muppets on Sesame Street dance.
The New Kids Dance
You start out with feet at arms length apart kick out your right foot and bring it back to the center, same thing with the left foot and then have both feet in the center.
Nuclear War on The Dance Floor
"Rubber knees" was a popular dance of the eighties in which you stand with feet apart and knees bent inwards touching each other . You then cross your arms placing hands palm down on each knee. Now open your knees keeping your crossed hands on your knees. Then close them again and this time when you open them, stealthily uncross your hands leaving them right hand on right knee and left hand on left knee. Continue alternating hands from crossed to uncrossed until the song ends or people stop looking at you.
The Palm Tree
With both hands in front of you, you put the left on top of the right and over and over again as if you were climbing a tree. Your hands are not in fists and not touching each other. Move you head left and right as if you were really climbing a tree. Then when you get to the "top" of the tree shake ruthlessly for the coconuts to fall down and catch them!
Okay, originating from Japan's disco/eurobeat club cluture of the 70's and 80's this dance is still stronger than ever to this day in Japan! You move your feet in and out one at a time and that movement stays basically like that all the tile. However, the arms are moved in an array of jives and swings. Each song has it's own variation of the dance and it is a big teen-hobby.
The Pencil
Put both arms high in the air and clap your hands together as if to make the point of a pencil. While feet are together, shuffle around as if your feet were the eraser. Then continuously shuffle to the beat of the song as if you were erasing something on the floor. (OPTIONAL: while dancing say,"Erase it, Erase it" continuously)
The Ping-Pong
Me and my friends would do this every Saturday night when we went on dates (not with eachother. This is how it goes: 1)put your left arm on your hip and raise your right arm.Tap with the right arm like you are hitting a ping pong ball.2) do this in a circular motion and switch your arms.3)Then stop and go on your pressing bones and swing your hips in a circle, while waving your arm like you are holding a racket. Of course i didnt get many dates so i didnt have the chance to do this that often.
Pitbull Shake
Take your booty move in a circle bounce up and down and in a circle with your arm
The Popcorn
Ok, kinda hard to explain but basically you are hopping side to side in sync with the music. Little hops with your feet, while moving your hands in the opposite direction of your feet. You look like you are popping off of the ground like popcorn..Get it?
Pop'n Loc
It's in that new car commercial - you just basically wave your arms slowly, locking your joints for a second, and then releasing and moving again. Kinda like to robot, but move both arms in a different direction. It's also in the 'Uptown Girl' video by Billy Joel.
The Prep
Put your hands in the air and work them back and forth in sync with your neck. Work your neck back n forth and you move your hands through the air.
The Prep
Very big in 1984, where you're center then step to the right with both feet, pointing up with palms flat and fingers together. Then back to the center pointing both of your hands downwards. Then to the left pointing your hands (palms flat, fingers together) up towards the left, then back. There are many variations to this dance going opposite of your partner reaching out like your mixing dominoes on the table when your centered, and so on.
The Q-Tip
Lean side to side with while putting up the hand to the side you're leaning to with your pointer finger and thumb together up by your ear as if you're cleaning your ears with a Q-Tip.
Red Indian dance
You see this in Michael Jackson's "Black or White" video when he's dancing with the Native Americans. All you are doing is bending your knees and tipping from the waist while making small but very fast little jumps lifting your right foot up and down with every jump.
The Risky Business
You slide in from stage right with left knee cocked as if you are about to jump a hurdle. Head should be tilted downwards with eyes fixed on imaginary microphone held in clenched fist. Then spin to the front and begin miming "Just take those old records off the shelf..." The key to this dance is to display absolutely no sense of rhythm. This "Risky Business" was made famous by a boxer shorts-clad Tom Cruise.
Robo Cop
There were various ways to do it, but the most common way was to have your right arm up with your fist clinched (Like you were giving someone the elbow) and your left arm and fist (Like a slot machine). Your left fist would move along with your right fist giving the elbow on the right then to your left and so on...
Robot or Super Robot
Robot:Kinda of like the poplock except you keep all your body parts straight. Super Robot:kind of between the robot and poplock you just mix poplock and robot with legs and arms even neck and stomach
Roger Rabbit
The Roger Rabbit is like the running man but you are doing it backwards.. Your arms are by your sides (or doing some funky move) and you take your right leg and sorta skip backwards once, and then your left leg you do the same thing, and then your right leg does it again but this time when your right leg goes back you sorta rock back and forth (right left right) note that when your right leg goes back your left leg is in front and vice versa!! You have to do it sorta robotically
The Running Man
Also known as The Vanilla Ice, you take a step forward, then slide that foot back, immediately placing the next foot forward. Repeat while moving your bent arms forward and back (together). When done quickly, you'll look as though you're "running". If you want to get really fancy, you can pivot on one foot so that you're facing in the other direction and do it all over again.
The Setter
This move is kinda based on volleyball. What you do is pretend that your throwing the ball up and when you do you move your hands up and out on the side of your whole body, Repeat.
Shopping Cart
It sorta starts out like the lawnmower. You have your hands in front of you, your fists closed like your holding onto the handle. Then swinging your hips steady and shuffling your feet, you throw one hand out like grasping a can. Placing it back on the cart handle do it again with the other hand. Repeat
Just like a MOONWALK but sideways. Creates an illusion of flitting across the floor. Michael Jackson does this move as well as his moonwalk.
This is a Michael Jackson move just like the Moonwalk except it makes you look as if your floating sideways across the air. Someone listed this move as the SideSlide on here...but the name for it is the Skywalk. Man, Michael Jackson sure is a Master of the Dance, isn't he?
Slam Dancing
Slammers tend to move as a whole in a clockwise direction, pushing and shoving their way around the room in what has today been called a mosh pit. Slammers goals are to bump into as many people as possible, get sweatier than anyone else, and to look like you are having a seizure. If your really lucky, there will be a stage for you to drive off as the other slammers catch you.
The Slam
Like the pogo, but you slam into other people as you are jumping up and down, and is less rigid. Eventually evolved into moshing, which is a more violent and dangerous form of slam dancing.
The Smurf
Kind of complicated. Right toe down, right heel up and left heel down, left toe up at the same time then switch your feet to right heel down, right toe up and left toe down, left toe up - repeat.
Soca Dance
A couple. Man behind. Woman in front. Man's hands on woman's waist. And man leans on the woman's back. It seemed to be a very sexual figure!!
The Speaker
At every club there is one individual doing this dance. He or she finds the largest and loudest speaker around, and spends the entire night facing it and dancing at a range of about two feet, with closed eyes and occasionally waving their arms around. Mind altering substances may or may not be a prerequisite.
The Spin
this move is seen in many of the michael jackson videos in the eighties and the nighties. the best way to do it is to cross your right leg across you left leg and spin counter clockwise. but wait!!! heres the trick to spinning as fast and as many turns as michael: YOU SPIN ON THE BALL OF YOUR FOOT FOR 180 DEGREES OF THE SPIN THEN YOU ROTATE FROM THE BALL OF YOUR FOOR TO THE HEAL OF YOUR FOOT!!! the only way to acheive this is to have on dress shoes or tennis shoes. but if you are in a smooth surface it doesn't really matter.
put one hand straight out in front of you with a closed fist and rotate to the beat one direction moving your arm up and down. When you reach the other side of your body, pull your arm straight back over to the other side (without any beats)
The Sprinkler
Stand there with your right arm (or left) in front of you with a fist, pull back 3 times as you move your arm to the left, and then swing right arm back to the right.
This is a very complex move with 3 individual steps giving the total effect of those lessons the stewardesses give you regarding airline safety. The first set of motions involves acting like you're putting on the seat belt. You can really move your hips on this one. The seconed set of motions involves pointing with both hands using two fingers on each hand to show people where the exit doors are. Make sure to turn around and show them where the doors are behind them. For the big ending, you pantomime putting on the mask. Step 1: Grab the mask from up above. Step 2: Grab the rubber band and pull it behind your head while holding the breathing cup in front of you. Step 3: Gently release the cup and the rubber band to secure the breathing apparatus to your head.
The SuperBowl Shuffle
You have to be member of the Chicago Bears to do this one. Remember Jim McMahon, Walter Payton and William 'The Fridge' Perry doing this in that video that came out right before the SuperBown in like 1983-84.
A Michael Jackson move done immediately at the end of either the moonwalk or spin. Simply stand on the very tips of your toes and bend your knees so it looks like you are sitting in air. Can also be done by standing up straight standing on the inner-front part of your feet.
The Truffle Shuffle
This is the dance that Mouth makes Chunk do in The Goonies, before he lets Chunk into the house. Basically Chunk lifts his shirt to show his stomach, and then wiggles around and ripples his stomach while making funny sounds with his mouth and tongue.
Seen in Kool Moe Dee's video, Wild Wild West. Motion yourself sideways, move one whole leg, and motion the other in the typewriter mode.
Done on a soft surface: jump on your stomach and bounce up on your feet and do it again three more times
The Wop
Bend your body at the waste and bend your arms, swinging them back and forth. Move your body in unison with your arm movement.
The Worm
Lay on your stomach and move your legs up and down and move your body forward with your hands
Do You Have a Dance to Share?

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