Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Dance Crazes of the Sixties - Mods & Rockers Unite!

If a man doesn't know how to dance he doesn't know how to make love, there I said it!
- Craig Ferguson
Mods dancing at Ready, Steady, Go!

I always loved to dance. At a club, if you want to find me, I'll either be behind the decks or on the floor dancing and sweating. I'm not the type to lean against the bar all night.

Little publicly known facts about myself:

- I took a good five years of latin dance courses. I enjoyed every minute of learning how to dance Salsa, Merengue and Bachata.

- The first time I was ever introduced to my wife, I was dancing on a stage next to her in a large club called Chez Swan back in the 90s. Too bad she doesn't have any recollection of meeting me...

- I can't count how many times I have fantasized, as a teenager, about being the Ace Face in the Brighton Ball scene in Quadrophenia.

What I like almost as much as dancing is spinning Soul tunes that are about dance moves. Dance crazes appeared on a weekly basis in the sixties and Mods were not immune to the fads sweeping the world. One of my all-time favorite tracks, that is garanteed to get a crowd going, is Wilson Picket's cover of Cannibal & The Headhunters song Land of a Thousand Dances. In it, you'll hear no less than 16 of these dances being named.

When I first put my hands on Terry Rawlings' book Mod: A Very British Phenomenon, I saw on page 115, the cover of this 60s magazine.

I was curious to see what was on the inside so I went on the hunt to find a copy. Was this going to be the ticket for me to become the Mod equivalent of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever? I wanted to step up my game and be prepared in case a dance-off was to be declared against a Rocker.

Dancing the Philip Blues on Ready Steady Go!
Here are a few scans of classic dance moves from the era. I skipped the pages with demonstrations by the Rockers for obvious reasons. One, they look silly and the dances are, of course, boring. Did I really need to tell you that?

Click on image to enlarge it

After looking at the magazine, I thought I would try to name as many dances as I could. When Wilson Pickett sings about the land of a thousand dances, he's not kidding. There's even one called Doin' The Mod! I had the help of the internet when I ran out of ideas.

The Dave Clark Five
I tried to divide them up into categories to show you how themes seem to emerge. I tried to concentrate mainly on Soul tunes with the odd Pop song thrown in there for good measure. You can also check out this post I did in Febuary 2011 featuring Soul tracks that were all about man's best friend, the pooch.

Your classics:

The Twist, The Madison, The Watusi,  The Freddie, The Locomotion, The Jerk, The Mash Potato, The Bossa Nova, The Boo-Ga-Loo, The Harlem Shuffle

Mod favorites:

The Shing-A-Ling, The Block, The Shimmy, The El Matador, The Rubberneck (Ruberneckin'), The Ooh Poo Pah Doo, The Boomarang, The Jamaican Ska, The Rock-Steady, The Popcorn, The Swim,  The Karate, The Nitty Gritty, The Barefootin', The 45, The 81, Shake Your Moneymaker, Doin' The Mod, The Shotgun, The Snake, The Twine Time, The Funky Broadway, The Tighten Up, The Grunt, The Bounce, The Thing, The Charge, The Get Down

The "how did you come up with this one/anything goes" category:

The Tumble Weed, The Uncle Willie, The Dish Rag, The Shake A Poo Poo, The Stereo Freeze, Hook It To The Mule, The Yolk, The Popeye Waddle, The Batman, The Choo Choo, The Jesse James, The Booty Green, The Whoopie, The Slurp, The Frankenstein Walk, The Funky 69, The Skin, The Humpback, The See-saw, Go Get A Wig, The Slop, The Climb, The Dirt, The Sling Shot, The Mess, The Crossfire, The Hunch, The Fat Back, The Choo Choo, The Boo Boo, The Slop Around, The Sissy, The Whiplash, The Shimmy Loo, The Miniskirt Dance, The Look, The Meditation, The Dip, The Katie Lee, The Beatle Hop, Do The Rosko, Mister Luckee, Doing The Snatch, The Get-E-Up, The Huckle-Buck, The Big O, The Cleopatra, The Funky Football, The Jelly Jam, The Kickapoo, Doin' The Model, The Knock Knee

Your animal dances:

The animal kingdom was a great source of inspiration for a lot of dance fads of the sixties because as we all know, animals like the mule, the camel or the goat sure know how to get down on a dance floor.

I summed up so many different animal dances that I had to come up with sub-categories.

Move like a mammal:

The Pony, The Camel Walk, Philly Dog, The Gator, The Tiger, The Alley Cat, The Goat, The Mouse, The Mule, The Kangaroo, The Jackass, The Cow, The Hog, The Pig, The Ground Hog

Critter crazes:

The Bug, The Roach, The Fly, The Mosquito, The Ants, The Beetle Squash, The Spider Walk

Shake a tail feather:

The Ostrich, The Duck, The Bird, The Funky Chicken, The Chicken Scratch, The Penguin, The Surfin' Bird, The Goose, The Grandma Bird

Prance like a primate:

The Monkey, The Boston Monkey, The Karate Monkey, Mickey's Monkey, The Tarzan's Monkey, The Monkey Bird, The Monkey Dog, The Monkey Donkey, The Monkey Hop, The Monkey Jerk, The Monkey Jump, The Monkey Shine, The Monkey Stroll, The Monkey Walk, The Flunky Monkey, The Monkey Wobble,  The King Kong's Monkey, The Gorilla, The Bad Baboon, The Monkeyland

If you want to learn how to dance them all, good luck! Here's some advice. When the singer says at one point in the song "And it goes like this..." pay careful attention.

The proof that Mods & Rockers can get along

In order to get you started, why don't you shimmy over to the Parka Avenue Mixcloud page and listen to DJ Parka Pat's latest podcast - Land of the 15 dances. You'll find a compilation of some of my favorite Soul dances from the 60s.

And if you don't feel like learning all the dance steps, do like I do and freestyle baby!