In the 1990s, creativity was at an all-time high when it came to dancing. Musicians were developing their own moves and writing songs about them. Crazes ranged from popular line dances like the Macarena and the Electric Slide to wilder expressions like MC Hammer’s Typewriter Move and the 69 Boyz’s Tootsee Roll.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of the funniest dances from the 1990s just in time for National Geographic Channel’s three-night event The ’90s: The Last Great Decade? continuing tonight at 9/8c.
Make sure you have plenty of open space around your computer when reading this post. We guarantee that you’ll be inspired to bust a move or two while revisiting the old styles.
12. Electric Slide
By far, the coolest line dance of the 1990s has to be the Electric Slide. Ric Silver created the dance in 1976, and Bunny Wailer recorded the accompanying song “Electric Boogie” that same year. Marsha Griffiths covered the record in 1982 and released a remix in 1989 that sparked renewed interest in the 18-step dance variation. The dance is still popular at weddings and bar mitzvahs.
11. Kid ‘n Play Kick Step
New York rappers Kid ‘n Play featured their signature dance, the Kid ‘n Play Kick Step, in their music videos “Gittin’ Funky,” “Rollin’ With Kid ‘n Play,” and “Funhouse,” among others. The move involved dance partners stepping forward and backwards and kicking their feet together.
10. The Troop
Though Vanilla Ice was quickly dismissed as a gimmick rapper, there was no denying that the South Florida-raised artist could dance. In a clip below from National Geographic’s The ’90s: The Last Great Decade, the “Ice Ice Baby” rapper shows off one of the most popular hip-hop dances of 1990s. Called the Troop, dancers alternate rocking their upper bodies to the right and left while elevating their knees in the opposite direction.
9. The Running Man
Though the Running Man dance — which can be described as a kind of mixture of running and skipping in place — first surfaced in the late 1980s, it continued to thrive well into the 1990s and was performed by a number of entertainers including Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Milli Vanilli, Vanilla Ice, and MC Hammer. However, Bobby Brown’s execution in his video for “Every Little Step” is arguably the most memorable as it is prominently featured throughout the clip.
8. Line Dancing
Line Dancing is to Billy Ray Cyrus what twerking is to his daughter Miley. The country star is credited with helping popularize large groups of people, synchronizing their dance moves to country music in the 1990s. The music video for Billy’s debut single “Achy Breaky Heart” features a mullet-sporting Billy Ray performing on stage as concertgoers dance to the song. The record was a massive hit, achieving platinum status and top 10 ranking on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and even scored a spoof by Jim Carrey on In Living Color.
Inspired by the way models pose in leading fashion magazine Vogue, the dance emerged in the ballroom scene in Harlem in the 1960s. Dancers essentially strike a succession of poses to the rhythm of the house music. Madonna helped take the dance mainstream with the 1990 release of her music video for “Vogue.”
6. Tootsee Roll
It’s still unclear what correlation — if any — the 69 Boyz’s dance has to the Tootsie Roll candy. But the Jacksonville, Fla. rappers introduced a fun dance that involved swinging their hips from front to back while dipping and simultaneously bringing their knees together and extending them. They offered a demonstration in their music video for their song of the same name.
5. The Train
Florida rap group the Quad City DJs clearly never outgrew their childhood fascination with trains. For the video for their 1996 song “C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train),” partygoers parade across the dance floor while pretending to be choo-choo train conductors blowing the horn.
4. Da’ Dip
Not too many dance crazes can boast having its own computer-generated android providing an instructional video. But this is the case for the dance featured in the music video for Freak Nasty’s 1996 song “Da’ Dip.” In order to achieve the move, dancers are instructed to put their hands on their hips, dip it low, roll and grind.
3. Humpty Dance
Oakland hip-hop group Digital Underground is responsible for launching the Humpty Dance, arguably the funniest dance of all time. The dance is built around the group’s character Humpty Hump, the alter ego of lead rapper Shock G. The song’s instruction makes learning the moves foolproof. “It’s supposed to look like a fit or convulsion,” Humpty Hump raps.
2. The Macarena
There’s no greater guilty pleasure in dance music history than the Macarena, popularized by Los del Rio’s song of the same name. The dance trend began in the Miami nightclub scene with the original Spanish-language version of the song. But interest from an English radio station prompted the Bayside Boys Mix that went on to top the charts and achieve multiplatinum status. Twenty years later, the song and dance’s cult following continues to grow. See the dance spotlighted on the National Geographic special The ’90s: The Last Great Decade.
1. The Typewriter
If you weren’t born until the 1990s, there’s a good chance that you may be unfamiliar with the concept of a typewriter — a now archaic, pre-computer device used for typing formal documents, letters, and term papers. The type bar moves from left to right, printing text. After a full line of text has been reached, the type bar resets to the left side of the page. How ingenious was it for MC Hammer to fashion a dance after these rapid, left-to-right movements? See Hammer’s execution in his 1990 music video for “U Can’t Touch This.”