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"LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN!"
So, there's this dance craze, or so a song insists.
If everybody's doing it now, then you might want to know the steps. The lyrics may explain a few easy-to-do steps, but often keep it intentionally vague if a choreographer is responsible for the real steps.
Mostly, the lyrics tend to say how popular the dance is and how it makes people feel while they do it, maybe throwing in a few references to other dances which it is or isn't like.
One thing is required: the rhythm has to be catchy.
- "Time Warp" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show mentions a fair number of steps:
It's just a jump to the left
And then a step to the right
Put your hands on your hips
And bring your knees in tight
But it's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane
Let's do the Time Warp again!
- The Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movies were famous for these: they introduced "The Carioca" in Flying Down To Rio, "The Continental" in The Gay Divorcee, "The Piccolino" in Top Hat, and "The Yam" in Carefree.
- At least 20% of Hairspray (the original) is a compilation of these songs.
- "Ballroom Dancing" by Paul McCartney is a past-tense version. (Listed here because the song eventually reached Give My Regards to Broad Street.)
- "The French Mistake" from Blazing Saddles
- "The Tina-Lina" in The Toast of New Orleans.
- "Hoe Down" from Babes On Broadway.
Hold a chicken in the air
Stick a deckchair up your nose
Buy a jumbo jet
And then bury all your clothes
Paint your left knee green
Then extract your wisdom teeth
Form a string quartet
And pretend your name is Keith
- The Hannah Montana movie has the "Hoedown Throwdown". Even in-universe, this one is stretching Willing Suspension of Disbelief a bit.
- In Bear in the Big Blue House, the mice at Tutter's school all do the "Mumble Mambo," but Tutter is uncomfortable with it and can't seem to get into it.
- Leather Tuscadero wrote & performed "Do the Fonzie" on Happy Days
- Carmine Ragusa sang "Do the Carmine" on Laverne and Shirley
- The Goodies spoofed this in one episode where they were being tasked -- by a musical Mad Hatter, no less -- with writing a hit song. They belted up a squaredance tune, and Bill improvised fairly ordinary squaredance lyrics which were being followed exactly by the Mad Hatter's goons, ending with this (paraphrased):
Now with your partner you shout
Open the window and jump out
- Also, The Funky Gibbon. And in another routine called "Poor Old Soul" on Almost Live, they named dance sensations like the "loony moth", "festering ferret", and "dead dog".
- I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again enjoyed doing this on occasion. One of the more memorable ones was the 'Gibbon Stuffing' song. It was Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Countless 1920s Broadway musicals had a Dance Sensation, e.g. "The Monkey-Doodle-Doo" in The Cocoanuts and "The Varsity Drag" in Good News. By far the most popular, though, was "Charleston," a Breakaway Pop Hit from the black musical Runnin' Wild (1923).
- "The Gazooka" from the revue Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 was an Affectionate Parody of the Dance Sensation, especially the Astaire/Rogers kind. The lyrics explain that "first you take a step, and then you take another, and then you take another," and then you ought to buy a copy of the sheet music.
- "The Pussy Foot" from Goldilocks has a somewhat catchy tune but awful lyrics.
- Cole Porter's "Heaven Hop," last seen as a musical stowaway in revivals of Anything Goes.
- "Wrong Note Rag" from Wonderful Town, supposed to be like a pre-World War I vaudeville act.
- "Off-Time" from Ain't Misbehavin'. Like the title song, this was originally used in the 1929 revue Hot Chocolates.
- Played with in the Broadway production of Young Frankenstein with "The Transylvania Mania" because they're trying to distract the townspeople from the Monster's sounds and so making it up on the spot. The lyrics consist of contrived rhyming claims on how much fun it is (but purposefully for parody)
So join the fun, lets all be zany-a
Even Liths in Lithuania love it, it's the latest rage.
Lose the blues and don't complain-ia
hit the dance floor feel no pain-ia
Love it! Do the Transylvania mania!
- "Yankee Doodle Rhythm" from the 1927 version of Strike Up the Band.
- "Evil Dead: The Musical" tried to do this with "Do the Necronomicon".
- "The Holiday Hop" from Carols For a Cure: Broadway's Greatest Gifts, Volume 5, performed by the cast of 42ndStreet.
- The Simpsons with "Do the Bartman".
- SpongeBob SquarePants had kids at the prom doing "The Sponge." Unfortunately, anyone who wasn't a sponge ended up mangled.
- In another episode, Patrick wins a dance contest after rolling around because of a cramp. (He won by default, as the only dancer who did his own dancing.) This is followed by a fake commercial for "The Cramp".
- The Super Mario Bros Super Show's ending credits instructed viewers on how to "Do the Mario."
- For those unfamiliar, you swing your arms from side to side, take one step, and then again. The Mario is just running.
- The Flintstones had "The Twitch", created by a singer after an allergic reaction to pickled dodo eggs.
- The Schmeerskahoven in Pinky and The Brain stimulated every pressure point on the body during the dance, allowing the dancer to be completely brainwashed.
- "The Michigan Rag", from the Looney Tunes short One Froggy Evening. It was the only original song written for the short.
- Inexplicably popular in pop music from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s:
- Usher had "U-Turn" from his 8701 album
Put your hands up
Bend your knees
Bounce around in a circle
Get down with me
Come on, come on (it ain't hard to learn)
Come on, come on (it's called the U Turn)
- "Baila en tu cuerpo alegría, Macarena, que tu cuerpo es pa' dar alegría, cosa buena..."
- Parodied in Lemon Demon's "Dance Like An Idiot"
Put your hands on your knees, and hobble to the right
Then do a three-sixty with your eyes shut tight
While you're dizzy, get busy and pretend you're a mime
Then make whiny noises, and clap five times
Hold out your arms, start running in place
Try to do the moonwalk, and fall on your face
Get up and stomp around like a big fat lummox
Then jump out the window with your hands on your buttocks.
- Similarly but more scatologically parodied by Rappy McRapperson's "Lick Your Own Butthole Party Dance" which is about exactly what you think it is.
- DJ Casper's "Cha Cha Slide"
- "Mambo Number Five" by Pérez Prado, covered by Lou Bega.
Jump up and down and move it all around,
Shake your head to the sound, put your hands on the ground.
Take one step left and one step right,
One to the front and one to the side.
Clap your hands once and clap your hands twice
And if it look like this then you're doing it right.
- The Metropolitan Glide. Are you ready?
- Marcia Griffiths's "Electric Slide"
- "Caramelldansen" is pure this (though the dance described in the lyrics has nothing in common with the "dance" from the looped video clip that made it popular). Translated, it goes something like this:
Dance with us
Clap your hands
Do like we do
Take some steps to the left
Listen and learn
Don't miss the chance
Now we're here with
The Caramell Dance!
- Before the Velvet Underground came about, Lou Reed wrote a version of these called "The Ostrich" featuring a ridiculous dance that involved people stepping on other people's heads.
- Limbo good, Limbo fine, Everybody gets a chance... Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh!
- "The Compromise" by the Format satirizes this by describing a dance whose steps are "Throw your partner behind a desk, where they'll do absolutely nothing so it's your job to dance and smile". It's a retaliation against the record company, who asked them to write a hit (hence "The Compromise").
- You put your left leg in, your left leg out...
- Put your elbow up tight, make a step with the right, tilt your head to the side and smile real, real wide! LEO STRUT!
- "Do the Strand" by Roxy Music. There are almost literally no instructions on how to do it in the lyrics, so it's possible it's just a long reference to other songs of this trope.
- Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show had a song called "Levitate". It started out like it was trying to teach a dance, and then continued to lifting both feet off the ground and crossing your legs in midair.
- Parodied in "The Sacro-Iliac" by 10CC:
Here's what you gotta do...
In any tempo, in any rhythm...
Come right back and do the Sacro-Iliac.
- Sort of parodied by The Goodies in 'The Funky Gibbon'...
We're The Goodies, how d'you do?
Weve just been down to the zoo,
Saw a monkey in a cage,
Doin' a dance that could be the rage!
- "Do The Reggay" by Toots & The Maytals. Possibly the most successful one of all, since instead of popularizing a dance, it wound up naming an entire genre of music (with a minor change in spelling).
- "The Vatican Rag" by Tom Lehrer is another satirical example.
- The Humpty Dance is your chance to do the hump!
- "The Calloway Boogie"
- Older Than Television: The Ragtime Dance by Scott Joplin. Good luck finding a version with the lyrics, though.
- Parodied in this Songs to Wear Pants To song.
- Dance Dance Revolution has a song called The 7 Jump. Unfortunately the lyrics seem to assume that you're watching the music video to the song so you'd never learn how to do it just from hearing it. Hilariously, the lyrics comment about how easy it is to do.
- Open the door, get on the floor, everybody walk the dinosaur.
- Well everybody's heard about the bird... (The Bird was originally a dance, and was indeed "the word.")
- "The Wilbury Twist" by The Traveling Wilburys invites the dancer to, among other things, fall on his ass, put his teeth in a glass, and put his blindfold on so his friends can get away from him ("Could be years before you're missed!").
- The Cramps usually had one of these on every album, including "Surfin' Dead", "Alligator Stomp", "Cramp Stomp", "The Crusher", and others. In most of them, everyone's dead by the final verse (but still dancing).
- "The Crusher" was originally by obscure 60's garage rock group The Novas, who used Guttural Growler vocals to fit with the wrestling-themed "dance" of the title: the only two moves given for the crusher itself are "take your fist and put it on your waist" and "squeeze your partner's head 'til she's blue in the face", and the listener is also repeatedly urged to "do the hammerlock" and "the eye-gouge".
- Parodied with The Lonely Island's "The Creep", a dance specifically designed to make one look like, well, a creep.
- The Cupid Shuffle. To the right! To the right! To the right! To the right!
- MC Frontalot has the 'Margaret Thatcher' from his song Wallflowers, which describes exactly the Adorkable dance that would be performed by an awkward geek with no idea how to dance. Notable for taking 'vague steps' Up to Eleven - after all, if it's an awkward nerd dance, you're not supposed to know what you're doing.
Wiggle, wobble, wriggle,
coddle your young,
intensify your ennui,
then before you get done,
put your left foot over to the left if you dare,
then pretend you got scared,
then point at your hair.
- A slew of awkwardly titled rap-dance sensation songs were released after the success of the Soulja Boy, with varied amounts of success:
- The Stanky Legg
- The Cat Daddy
- The Dougie (discussed in TWO songs)
- Lean Like a Cholo
- Walk like an Egyptian.
- The Dismemberment Plan's "Do The Standing Still", which uses the lyrical format of a typical dance sensation song to satirize how non-demonstrative indie rock audiences often are:
Oh whoa-oh, well it's a sensation
Across the entire nation
Oh whoa-oh, a hundred million kids
All dancing in suspended animation
- Oddly predated by 15 years with an identically titled song by Belgian New Wave band The Employees, which had basically the same lyrical premise.
- "The Crunge" by Led Zeppelin is another parody of this style of song, influenced by James Brown, but with an undanceable, oddly-timed rhythm.
- Eels' "Going Fetal" is a pretty sardonic parody: According to the lyrics, the latest dance craze is the Troubled Fetal Position.
- Any square/line/generally country dance. See Bugs Bunny in Hillbilly Hare for a good idea.
That's it for now! Until next time, everybody, DO THE MARIO!