How to Dance Like MC Hammer

By Margot Callahan
MC Hammer dances onstage in Nashville.

MC Hammer was born Stanley Kirk Burrell in 1962. He rose to fame rapidly in the 1990s and is remembered for hits such as "U Can't Touch This" and the dance moves that went with it. Dancing like MC Hammer is not hard – energy, style and attitude are everything.

What to Wear

It would be most appropriate to adopt the attire Hammer wore in the video of his iconic 1990 mega single "U Can't Touch This." The baggy-crotch pants, sometimes referred to as "harem pants," now just as frequently are called "Hammer pants." They allow freedom of movement in the hip and buttocks area but the fabric tapers around the lower leg and ankle, making them great for fast footwork without tripping.

What Music to Play

The obvious and familiar music for party dancing like MC Hammer is the single "U Can't Touch This" from 1990's "Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em," but there are other, similarly dance-able numbers from that platinum album and Hammer's follow-up "Too Legit to Quit," which was released in 1991. "Here Comes the Hammer" and the title track "2 Legit 2 Quit" both have high energy and distinctive beats for optimum party dancing effect.

The Basic Moves

MC Hammer's signature dance to "U Can't Touch This" is intensely aerobic, but the steps are simple. Slightly squat with legs shoulder-width apart, jump and cross your legs so you land with them still crossed. Jump again and land with legs uncrossed. You can use this crossed-feet step to spin. Travel sideways with legs apart and feet shuffling; you can add alternate shoulder raises, hip wiggles and arm/hand gestures that illustrate the lyrics to this sideways movement. Stop and do a body roll, starting with the head, through the waist to the hips and knees. Vary these basic moves with spins, the "Running Man" and other 1980s and '90s hip-hop moves. Whatever you do, don't stop moving. In all of his performances, Hammer's dancing style always is energetic to the max, with knees pumping high and shoulders, arms and hands in almost-constant motion.

Where He Is Now

MC Hammer has been a huge influence on the culture of hip-hop and rap. His broad-based popularity in the early '90s lead to mainstream trends in music, video and film, fashion and dance choreography. Nonetheless, MC Hammer declared bankruptcy in 1996. Today, he is a pastor and lives quietly in California.

About the Author

Margot Callahan has Bachelor of Arts degrees in philosophy and film studies. She has written for newspapers and magazines such as the "Toronto Star" and "Toronto Life Fashion" since 1991, in addition to producing and directing documentary films.