Dance Innovations of the 80’s

So how did people dance in the 80’s? Dance movies from the eighties show us a plethora of styles– from the popping and locking in the final scene of Footloose to Jennifer Beal’s crazed frenzy in Flashdance┬áto Johnny and Baby’s infamous mambo, the 80’s was all about dance.

A major trend that rose in popularity was “breaking” essentially breakdancing. We see it a bit in Footloose, but in reality it’s popularity corresponds with the rise of hip hop. When I think of break dancing I kind of picture this guy:


You know: track suit, sweat band, ect. OR this guy:

breaker 2

Repping Adidas, weird sunglasses reminiscent of Robocop, boom box the size of a school aged child. In fact everyone (as we can see from poor Willard’s pathetic attempts) was breaking in the eighties. They even made movies (yes plural) about it. Here is a clip from the timeless classic Breakin

Magical I know. Maybe its just me but that rapper bears an uncanny resemblance to Ice Cube…. or is it Ice T…. you know the detective in Law and Order SVU– the one TV show that makes me feel super old for loving it.

Another amazing dance trend in the 80’s was the roller dance. People put on fancy costumes like thisroll dance

and jumped and twirled about, and what’s even more bizarre is that this trend turned into this: the World Roller Skating Pairs Championships of 2013

People also enjoyed roller disco parties which I imagine to be like a drug crazed hippie party but with the added fun of unexplained bruises to go with the hangover.

In the eighties, people liked to “slam dance” especially to punk music.


This is where the mosh pit seems to have originated from. I watched an instructional video on slam dancing. Essentially you have two choices: crouch low stick your arms out and walk in a weird criss-cross motion hopefully pushing people out of your way violently or you can stand in one spot and march lifting your knees really high and head down eyes closed….weird… or last but not least: you can “pogo” which is basically jumping up and down non-stop and maybe getting hit in the head by other “pogo”-ers. Fun Stuff.

So basically in the 80s there was dancing for everyone, but seemingly, dances that could cause serious bodily harm were especially popular. Whether you chose to scrape your face on concrete or asphalt break dancing, or shatter your ankle jumping into the air on roller skates, or even get a bloody nose slam dancing the 80s, dancing was an extreme sport.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *