An era of enormous social and cultural change, the 1970s birthed styles of music and dance that transcended boundaries of age and economic status to obtain enormous popularity. With an emphasis on personal expression, the famous dance styles of the 1970s greatly influenced the development of dance and movement over the next several decades.
One of the most iconic dance styles of the 1970s, Disco gets its name from the dance clubs in which it originated, which used records instead of live bands. As electronic music became popular in the late 1960s, dancers adopted the steps and movements of salsa and other ballroom dances to suit the new rhythms of disco music. This style eventually became known as "disco swing" and gave birth to a line dance called the Hustle and a new dance craze.
Often confused with disco swing, the Hustle is a line dance that rose to fame in the 1970s, especially following the John Travolta movie "Saturday Night Fever." The Hustle was originally meant to be danced to Van McCoy's 1975 song of the same name, but soon became a general term to refer to line dances and partner dances following a specific pattern of side-to-side steps. Several variations of the Hustle exploded in popularity during the 1970s, including the West Coast Hustle and the Latin Hustle.
The 1970s saw the rise of punk subculture, which included fashion, music and dance. Punk dancing abandoned all pretenses of technique and form in favor of chaotic, thrashing movements that often appeared violent. Punk dances evolved during the crowded, high-energy punk and heavy metal music concerts of the era. Moshing, a dance in which participants jump around slamming into each other, is one popular form of punk dancing that emerged in the 1970s. Another popular punk dance, in which concert attendees jumped up and down in one place, was called the Pogo.
Also called breakdancing, breaking is a kind of a street dance that originated in the Bronx in the 1970s. Break dancers, also called b-boys or b-girls, coordinate their movements with breaks in the music. Using strength, momentum and balance, dancers perform complicated and impressive dance movements using their entire bodies. Street gangs often used breaking as a way to battle without violence or weapons. A dance group called the Rock Steady Crew made breaking wildly popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when it became an important component of hip-hop culture.
Sarah Badger is a certified pilates and group fitness instructor, writer and dance teacher. Her work has appeared in "Dance Spirit" magazine and several literary journals. Badger earned her bachelor's degree in English and religious studies from Marymount Manhattan College, and currently owns a dance and fitness studio in upstate New York.