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What Are the Common Dances from the 1980s?

By J. Beam
Updated May 21, 2024
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E.T. phoned home, the average salary was just under $16,000 US Dollars (USD), and minivans, video cassette recorders (VCRs), and cable television were modern concepts. The 1980s was a decade of spending, and the newly launched cable music channel, MTV, inspired both the music and the fashion world. Madonna and Michael Jackson were huge pop stars, and along with other influences, they spurred some popular dance styles.

Break dancing was by far the biggest dance craze of the early 80s. Beginning as a street dance of the '70s and evolving into a popular style all its own, break dancing was born of hip-hop influences, and performing most moves required immense physical aptitude. Break dancing often involved standoffs between dancers to see who could out-maneuver the other.

Another dance craze, if one could call it that, was slamdancing. Catching on largely because of the development of new age punk and heavy metal in the '80s, slamdancing, also known as moshing, is nothing more than a group of people slamming into one another and jumping around to the sounds of loud metal music. The mosh pit followed, and relevant music concerts have ever since had a place where fans assault one another under the guise of a dance. Whether it's fun or dangerous is debatable, but slamdancing in the mosh pit looks like it's here to stay.

Common Dances

Nearly anybody who attended a wedding reception in the late 1980s will remember hearing the "Electric Boogie" reverberating across the room and a solid line of people performing The Electric Slide. This dance craze was made most popular by the 1989 re-release of the "Electric Boogie," copyrighted in 1982 by Bunny Wailer.

Though the '80s brought an amalgam of dance moves and styles, many of which are forgotten, there is no question that MTV had a large role in what became popular. Whether it was MC Hammer’s “Hammertime” or Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”, videos of musicians singing and dancing were available in people’s living rooms round the clock.

One final popular dance of the 80s, and possibly the one that issued in the new decade, was the Lambada. Though it has long-standing Brazilian roots, the Lambada gained worldwide popularity at the end of the decade with the release of the Hollywood film of the same name. The Lambada is considered a very sensual dance, even though it is fast-paced and heated.

1980's dance
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Discussion Comments
By orangey03 — On Mar 01, 2013
@Kristee – The dances definitely were animated. You are right about people looking so fierce and serious while dancing, too.

Janet Jackson usually had an intense look on her face while dancing. She inspired so many future singers and dancers, and she had some of the most creative moves at the time.

Even though Michael was her brother, she had her own unique style. It involved lots of fast-paced, jerky movements, but they were executed in such a cool way that they didn't seem robotic.

By feasting — On Feb 28, 2013
My aunts and uncles all learned to dance in the eighties. To this day, I can catch them doing The Electric Slide on the dance floor at weddings.

They also love line dancing. I think this was really popular in the eighties, and mostly it was done to country music. It amazes me how well my relatives remember these dances from the eighties!

By StarJo — On Feb 27, 2013
I can recall the dance costumes of the eighties being inspired by things people would wear while doing aerobic workouts. I remember seeing several music videos featuring the singer and the dancers in aerobic wear.

I'm not just talking shorts and t-shirts. These people went to the extreme, accessorizing with sweatbands and leg warmers.

My sister was a teenager in the eighties, and she wore clothes like this to look cool. People will copy just about any trend that famous musicians are following.

By Kristee — On Feb 27, 2013
I was a child in the eighties, and I found many of the dances that were popular at the time to be so funny! People just looked so silly while doing them, especially because they usually had such serious expressions while doing ridiculous dance moves.
By anon50439 — On Oct 28, 2009

as soon as possible i am going to get an account. i'm using this website for a school project as well.

By anon33537 — On Jun 07, 2009

this is a spectacular article. for dance at school, i have to write about the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's. this sure helped, i got 100%/A+!!! my parents sure were happy. this really is a great website!

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