The most iconic dance movements of the 1950s

As you flip through old family albums, you might be wondering what it was like to live through certain decades. The 1950s were a particularly exciting time marked by the heights of rock n ‘roll, juke joints and swing skirts.

While image restoration and music can help you imagine what life was like in the 50s, you can take it a step further by learning the most famous dances of the decade. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the most iconic old-fashioned dance moves from the 1950s!

The most iconic old-fashioned dance moves of the 1950s

With rock n ‘roll being the most popular genre in the 1950s, popular dance styles reflected the explosive energy and fast rhythms of the decade’s hit songs. Rock and roll dance styles embraced freestyle and group dancing, encouraging crowds to move with confidence and courage.

Here are some of the most iconic old-fashioned dance moves that will remind you why the 50s rocked!

The Boogie Woogie

Nothing screams as much energy as the Boogie Woogie! This 50s style of dancing was a mix of sophisticated footwork, stomping, jumping and quick swinging with a partner. Although it is considered a popular social dance, some people performed the Boogie Woogie in professional competitions and often incorporated impressive aerobic movements into their routines.

the bop

Inspired by the rock n ‘roll era, Bop is a double rhythm swing dance that involves very little contact between partners. People could groove solo and move freely to hit 1950s songs like “Dance to the Bop”.


The Twist caused a stir in the 1950s, bringing both the older and younger generations together through dance. Back in the day, rock n ‘roll and teenage social dancing was seen as rebellious and controversial by older people. But when the Twist first emerged in the dance world, the simple movement of twisting your hips side to side wowed the older generation.

the walk

Boys and girls enthusiastically gathered around the dance floor to perform the walk in the 1950s. It involved forming two lines – one for girls and one for boys, with a space between them that served as a track. The couples took turns slowly backing up and down the aisle while holding hands.

The jive hand

Rumor has it that the Hand Jive originated from an overcrowded cafe bar where people had to sit dancing, as there was not enough room to move around. This lively ’50s dance involved thigh slaps, crossed hands, vertical fists, and the thumbs-up sign, all in two steps each.

The Cha-Cha

Need to relax ? Try to do the Cha-Cha! This sultry dance was all about creating smooth and fast hip movements. Although originally from Cuba, Cha-Cha gained popularity in America in the late 1950s because it was so easy and fun to learn. It follows a “one-two, cha-cha-cha” rhythm, which consists of two slow steps and three fast steps.

The Jitterbug

Also known as Lindy Hop, the Jitterbug originated in African American communities and became a dance craze at a club where racial segregation was not practiced. The Jitterbug was a swing dance in which partners swayed from side to side and took alternate steps forward and backward.

Madison line dancing

Madison is a choreographed dance that involves a group of people making footsteps, claps, finger snaps, and side steps in multiple parallel lines. Generally, the movements varied depending on the region, as the locals liked to add their unique style to this dance.

The rabbit hop

Similar to Madison, Bunny Hop was a fun group dance, usually performed in parallel lines or in a large circle. Bunny Hop was done by taking two steps left, two steps right, one jump forward, one back and three forward.

Relive the dance moves of the 1950s

The best dance follies of the 1950s have remained classics thanks to their ease and pleasure. By trying out these simple dance moves, you can adopt the free-spirited attitude of the 50s and even connect with how older generations groove to the music of their time.