The Biggest Dance Crazes of All Time: From the Locomotion to the Macarena to Gangnam Style

With Psy's "Gangnam Style" breaking all sorts of YouTube records and nearly topping the Hot 100 (LEVINE!!!), our country is officially at its most feverish pitch of dance craziness in years. But Psy is hardly the first guy to pop up out of nowhere and command the nation's eyes, ears, feet and other necessary body parts-he's part of a rich tradition that includes Van McCoy, Rednex, Freak Nasty and DJ Casper, people whose names you might not recognize, but whose dances you surely will.

Where does the South Korean rapper's anthem fit in that tradition? Well, see where he ranks in our list of the Top 40 Dance Crazes of All-Time-the 40 songs that have moved you, body and spirit, across generations of weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, proms and backyard hoedowns. Cha cha, baby.


Song Most Associated With: Janet Jackson, "Rhythm Nation"

Era Most Popular: '80s

Brief Description: A more forward-looking version of the Moonwalk, the Running Man is simple: Put one leg forward in the air, slide the other one backward, then repeat with the other side. Pump your arms to the beat for extra funk.

Meaningful Statistic: 1989-Number of the year the Utah Saints' "Something Good 08″ video comically depicted the Running Man's supposed birth in Cardiff, Wales.


Song Most Associated With: The Bangles, "Walk Like an Egyptian"

Era Most Popular: '80s

Brief Description: Hold your hands out by your sides, one high and one low. Stick out your palms in opposing directions, jut them back and forth, and walk.

Meaningful Statistic: 44-Number of people who Walk Like an Egyptian in the Bangles' classic music video, including construction workers, firemen, Nancy Reagan and the Statue of Liberty (though ironically, none of the Bangles themselves).


Song Most Associated With: Tom Jones, "It's Not Unusual"

Era Most Popular: '90s

Brief Description: Put on your dorkiest sweater and get a big goofy smile on your face, a la Carlton Banks fromFresh Prince of Bel-Air. Then swing your arms rhythmically from one side of your body to the other, snapping with each movement.

Meaningful Statistic: ?-Unknown number of people who took place in the Alfonso Ribeiro-led attempt to break the world record for World's Largest Flash Mob with a simultaneous Carlton Dance performance. (It is unclear if they succeeded, though attendance was reported to be in the "hundreds.")


Song Most Associated With: Rocky Horror Picture Show Cast, "Time Warp"

Era Most Popular: '70s

Brief Description: It's just a jump to the left, then a step to the right, put your hands on your hips, and bring your knees in tight…

Meaningful Statistic: 8,239-Number of West Hollywoodians that performed the dance in the World's Biggest Time Warp back in 2010.


Song Most Associated With: Michael Jackson, "Thriller"

Era Most Popular: '80s

Brief Description: A fairly intricate dance sequence from the song's epic, all-time classic music video, though the most recognizable part is probably when you put your arms up in a zombie motion, then swing them from side to side.

Meaningful Statistic: 1,558-Number of Philippino prisoners who performed the dance at once, an all-time record for simultaneous Philippino prisoner dancing. Go figure.


Song Most Associated With: Soulja Boy, "Crank That (Soulja Boy)"

Era Most Popular: '00s

Brief Description: You could, if you really wanted, memorize the complicated foot steps: cross, uncross, slap your foot, tap your foot, touch your knee, repeat. Or you could move your shoulders up and down while bouncing from side to side. Either works, as long as you remember to do the Superman move at the right moment.

Meaningful Statistic: 2028-Number of "thumbs-up" the most popular definition of "Superman a ho" has received on


Song Most Associated With: Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)"

Era Most Popular: '00s

Brief Description: Since leading 2008′s I Am…Sasha Fierce, the elaborate choreography-best executed in a leotard-has been parodied and replicated everywhere from Glee to Saturday Night Live, proving that "ladies" is a flexible term.

Meaningful Statistic: 1-Number of show-stopping acts by Kanye Westin honor of Beyoncé's famed music video. As rude as it was, 'Ye's Hennessy-induced interruption of Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards reminded us that we weren't the only ones working tirelessly to get the moves down exactly right.


Song Most Associated With: "The Locomotion" by Little Eva. The 1962 original was later covered by Grand Funk Railroad in 1974, and Kylie Minogue in 1988.

Era Most Popular: '60s, although the aforementioned releases helped it become a dancefloor fixture in the '70s and '80s, too.

Brief Description: Participants can simulate the chug-a-chug-a motions of a real train by extending their arms in and out, and most importantly, swinging their hips. Pulling the train whistle with your arm is an optional, more updated tactic, but does offer some additional flair. Can't conquer it quiet yet? Don't stress-multiple entertainers have assured us it's "easier to learn than your ABCs."

Meaningful Statistic: 3-Number of versions of this dance craze that reached the Top 3 on Billboard's Hot 100.


Song Most Associated With: "Gangnam Style" by Psy, 2012′s K-pop crossover sensation.

Era Most Popular: '10s

Brief Description: Said to be a satire directed at the posh Seoul neighborhood, the moves are as cheesy and overt as they come, punctuated by the simulated horse-riding, which has been replicated by everyone from members of The Wanted to Britney Spears.

Meaningful Statistic: 659,000,000-Number of views the video has received on YouTube since it's posting in July 2012.


Song Most Associated With: Madonna, "Vogue"

Era Most Popular: '90s

Brief Description: A lot of face framing, as if you were on a photo on the cover of you-know-what.

Meaningful Statistic: 30-the number of countries internationally that Madonna's song went to #1 in. (Perhaps even more, according to the Wikipedia page.) Or 4-Number that the song's classic, David Fincher-directed visual accompaniment ranked on MTV's Top 500 Videos of All-Time countdown in 1997.


Song Most Associated With: Los Del Rio, "Macarena"

Era Most Popular: '90s

Brief Description: Doing a lot of things with your arms one-at-a-time-arm, arm, palm, plam, shoulder, shoulder, head, head, hip, hip, butt, butt-then sashaying, jumping and turning when you hear the "AAAAIIIEEE!!!"

Meaningful Statistic: 50,000-number of people who did the dance together at Yankee Stadium in 1996, arguably setting the all-time record for simultaneous group dancing. Or 14-Number of weeks the song was #1 on the Hot 100. Or 0-Number of people who have done the dance in a public setting since the song reached absolute maximum cultural saturation 15 years ago. It's way overdue for a comeback though, you watch.

Click here for 29 more dance crazes, like The Moonwalk and The Electric Slide...