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The Most Popular Dances in the Eighties

Breakdancing was the most popular dance craze of the 1980s, spawning movies and moves.
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The 1980s saw an explosion in many different kinds of music, which spawned some very interesting and popular dances. With new forms of music becoming mainstream, like hip-hop, dance, electronic and Latin, the dances that accompanied those sounds also entered the pop culture landscape. Many of the most popular dance forms still endure into the 21st century.


Breakdancing became the most popular dance craze of the 1980s, growing along with the popularity of rap and hip-hop. Breakdancing encompasses a variety of movements, from head spins and back spins to rhythmic popping and locking of the joints. Most breakdancers operated in teams (or "crews") that competed against each other in breakdancing "battles." The popularity of breakdancing during the 1980s even spawned movies, including "Breakin'" in 1984 and the sequel "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo" later that year.


In the punk, hardcore and heavy-metal scenes, a dance called moshing developed in the 1980s. But it didn't look much like a dance. Moshing consists of a crowd of people, usually near the stage during a concert, slamming their bodies against each other or jumping up and down in time to the music being played. Some mosh pits became violent and caused some criticism and was even banned at some concerts. Moshing also spawned the trend of crowd surfing, in which people are lifted and carried across the top of the crowd.

The Robot

Now played for laughs, the Robot was a complex and interesting part of the breakdancing genre. Also known as the Mannequin, the Robot consists of stiff, robotic movements of the head, arms and waist. The Robot is often associated with hip-hop, but it was also danced to Styx's 1983 hit "Mr. Roboto" and was used earlier by the Jacksons, in the 1970s. It is still employed by current artists like Chris Brown.


Lambada is a dance for couples that originated in South America, though the exact country of origin is in dispute. The dance caught on in 1989 when the French group Kaoma recorded a song titled "Lambada" set to a traditional Lambada tune. The song eventually moved up the American charts and ignited a Latin dance craze. Two movies were released in 1990 to capitalize on that craze, "Lambada" and "The Forbidden Dance."

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