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History of Disco Dance

Gaynor Borade
The 1970s was rife with the 'Disco' trend. Steps choreographed to the rhythm of dance music influenced the moves of hip-hop and techno culture. What started off as the 'Hustle', is today a unique 'backlash' genre of dance.
The history of disco dancing dates back to the 1970s when African-American and Hispanic communities across the United States popularized disco. A trend that started in Philadelphia, resulted in the popular club culture, flickering multicolored lights and heavily sequined apparel.
All through the 1970s, dance enthusiasts gyrated to the tunes of David Mancuso and Manu Dibango. In fact, the 1972 album release by Manu Dibango, called 'Soul Makossa', is recognized as the first disco music record. The trend caught on quick and a dance form just as unique was showcased on disco songs performed by Bee Gees, Donna Summers and The Jacksons.
Disco evolved alongside musical influences by rock, soul, blues, and funk music. Individual styles were choreographed to meet the demands of the soaring sound effects, reverberating vocals and the popular quaver and semi-quaver hi-hat pattern. Soon the Hustle became a common name for a number of individual moves.
This partner-dance involved elaborate hand movements and sleek twists and turns. It was not very different from the swing of the 1950s-1960s. Much of the disco came from older dances. The moves were combined forms of the mambo and the salsa.
Dancing in a line was popularized first in Florida and New York City, during the early 1970s. The dance incorporated the salsa foot rhythm and in time introduced the hip sways of swing.
A craze was born out of the line-dance in 1975. Actually, the name 'Hustle' was given to the first dance identified with this music genre, after the popular Soul City Symphony and Van McCoy song, 'The Hustle'.
Thereafter, dance moves choreographed to promote 'Disco Baby', by David Todd, became a rave in the new discotheques across New York, and subsequently the rest of the world. While the song earned McCoy the title of 'Top Instrumental Artist - 1975', the Hustle was taken to the next level.
Hustle moves soon resulted in the popular, jerky, back and forth movements of the 'Continental Walk'. The dance moves became as bold as the music, incorporating suggestive jumps, forward and backward, and elaborate clicking of the heels.
The 'Bus Stop' was another line-dance that actually took on variations with regards to location and time! All through 1976 and 1977, the dance was popularized via instructional videos and live shows. A variation of the Merengue, Bus Stop involved hip rotations that helped change direction and partner orientation. Subsequently, 'the 'Electric Slide' was born.
This freestyle dance genre continues to be the popular Disco dance trend till today. Other developments in the history of Disco dancing include variations known as the 'Tango Hustle' and elaborate versions of the cha-cha-cha, Rumba, Tango, Bolero and other partner dances.
Beyond the Hustle, a number of variants of the line-dance and couple-dance forms emerged, ensuring that the music and dance genre popularity-fluctuations remained pretty much in-sync. This form of dance now includes steps that are common to the Charleston, Foxtrot, Hustle and Swing.
Freestyle dancing, with a lot of snap, attitude and periodical acceleration in movements give simple footwork the right rhythm against the backdrop of a fusion of Jazz, Calypso, Rock and Funk. Disco moves are now choreographed to infuse foot work with hip and toe rhythms of the Lindy Hop, Balboa, Jive, Rock and Roll, Hip-Hop, Jitterbug and Collegiate Shag.