The Twist was an incredible phenomena and event for all of us, the biggest dance in the history of popular music. The Twist was the best dance style back in the 60s and was enjoyed enormously by the youth of that decade all over the world. It is a very energetic dance form and the music gets you started immediately in an enthusiastic manner. The infectious dance phenomenon that swept the nation and the world was spirited and frenzied, and it remains so all these decades later. The Twist was the first international rock and roll dance of its kind and was popular in all continents of the world. It had a huge following at home and abroad.
From the Twist until the Beatles, American Bandstand continued to feed the dance craze with one new step after another. The Twist, the Song and Dance That Changed the World. The Twist was a rock and roll dance popular in the 1960s named after the song that originated it, The Twist. It was the first major international rock and roll dance style in which the couples did not have to touch each other while dancing. One of the main factors in the instant popularity of the Twist was that it was so easy to do. It could be performed by anyone, regardless of whether they had a sense of rhythm or not.
The Twist dance, which was controversial at the time, involves swiveling hip and shuffling foot movements. It became a national craze and thus the dawn of a new era! Because the dance was so simple, it became a worldwide craze. The Twist crossed generations as young and old did the dance, and it crossed ethnic and cultural boundaries.
Many from the baby boomer generation will remember the fanaticism of the Twist when it was first created, and younger generations have undoubtedly witnessed its contagious appeal through old movies and TV shows. It’s true that the Twist reigned in popularity with dancing teens and 20-somethings – starting out as a song and becoming the biggest dance craze of the 1950s and 1960s.
⬅ Joe Pesci Starliter Dancing The Twist. The Twist became the first worldwide dance craze, enjoying immense popularity among all people and drawing fire from critics who felt it was too provocative. It inspired numerous dances. The Twist craze was even referenced by the United States Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) when actions in 1961 were dubbed “Operation Twist” In 2011 the FOMC revived Operation Twist.
The Twist was a global dance craze that spread to all continents of the world, without MTV, YouTube or the Worldwide Web. Although hundreds of ‘dance styles’ were invented during the decade – none were ever more popular or long-lived than ‘The Twist’. It’s still amazing how the Twist’s popularity traveled like heat lightning in those pre-Internet, pre-cell-phone-camera, pre-flash-mob, covered-wagon days. Even Beatlemania took longer to achieve critical mass. And they had plenty to dance to, as record companies scrambled to capitalize on “Twistmania.”
The Twist’s popular explosion was so big that some of our early music journalists declared that its tremendous success would end rock & roll… Doing The Twist is now recognized as the first worldwide dance craze. The biggest and most enduring of the dances was ‘The Twist’. Pioneered in the States by Hank Ballard, Chubby Checker and a popular group called Joey Dee and the Starliters. It was huge to the point where national competitions were held. It found its way to British dance halls around 1961.
The Twist dance would come to be seen as emblematic of the early 1960s in later years, with popular songs, television shows, and movies likely to reference it when they wanted to convey the spirit of that time period. As the dance craze exploded, the Twist spread to other popular media and entertainment outlets. In 1962, Dell Comics released a comic called The Twist. The Alvin Show produced a parody of The Twist called The Alvin Twist. The Flintstones cartoon debuted their version of the dance called The Twitch which aired in 1962. The Dick Van Dyke Show televised their version called The Twizzle in 1962. Even the conservative Leave it to Beaver TV show featured an episode called “Beaver Joins a Record Club” which featured The Twist dance.
The twist turned out to be the liberation of the dance floor, the first adult constituency rock ‘n’ roll music had earned and a major turning point in the history of the music, but at the time it was a media thunderstorm. Doctors warned of back injuries, religious figures cluck-clucked over the moral implications, and dancers such as Fred Astaire looked down their nose at the vulgarity of it all (even as they hastened to offer twist lessons at their dance studios).
The Twist was an infectious bug that anybody could catch, regardless of age (Noël Coward amid all those juvies), innate musicality, or medical condition. “The rhythm is contagious,” Earl Blackwell, publisher of the Celebrity Register, testified in The New York Times. “It makes you want to get up and dance. What’s most important is that it’s an easy dance to do. Everyone can do it.” So easy was it that brand-name dance impresario Arthur Murray said it could be taught in one lesson.
It’s hard to overstate the Twist’s impact on the music industry and on pop culture. Priests, PTA boards, police officials, and stodgy dance instructors were predictably outraged. One self-appointed guardian of public morality, James I. Flanigan, declared the dance was “of evil origin” and was “used by Satan in inducing thousands of teenagers in a type of hypnotic ecstasy.” Few paid attention. Doing the Twist was fun. Even highbrow dance master Arthur Murray came on board, his chain of studios offering flat-footed fuddy-duddies “six easy lessons” for $25. For the first time ever, moms and dads joined the kids on the dance floor, all grinding away like the agitator in the family washing machine.
The best way to express happiness is to dance the Twist to the tune of music and sway your hips with the ever pleasing rhythm of music. Twist, the dance craze that revolutionized rock ‘n ‘roll, tells about the way this dance form evolved and how it spread around the globe like lightening. To the alarm of many parents and the media, Twist gyrated to the top of the charts, inspiring movies, follow-up songs, and putting a New York nightclub called the Peppermint Lounge™ on the map.
The nation’s teens were swept up in twist fever, and a flurry of solo dance variations soon followed. Discotheques across the nation were bombarded with new instructional songs on what seemed like a weekly basis, and each potential hit came with its own set of custom steps to perform as the song played. From the Jerk, the Swim, and the Mashed Potato to the Bird, the Monkey and the Funky Chicken, etc.
The Twist gave everybody— rich or poor, young, old, and in between a chance to express themselves and the freedom to dance with or without a partner. Despite the alarm of many parents and the media, the hip swinging, and foot-shuffling movement of the Twist dance craze gyrated to the tops of the billboard charts. The popularity of the Twist fad gave rise to numerous pop culture at the height of the dance craze such as comic books, drediel, fireworks, documentaries, TV shows, movies, toys and much more. When the dance trend began in the back alleys and night clubs like the famed Peppermint Lounge™ in New York, no one envisioned it would become a worldwide phenomenon. And no more dance lessons.
The Twist started out as a dance fad in 1960, but two years later Life Magazine wrote about a “dingy Manhattan nightspot named the Peppermint Lounge™ [that had] quickly became the most jammed joint in town.” A moment in cultural history–when America went from ‘squareness’ to ‘awareness.’
The Twist – Doing The Twist is sometimes recognized as the first worldwide dance craze and Joey Dee and the Starliters “The Peppermint Twist” became hits off the strength of everyone’s favorite dance obsession of the time. Even though the popularity of The Twist went out of style with the American Bandstand era, it deserves recognition for moving the world during a revolutionary time period.
The Peppermint Lounge™ and American Bandstand would make The Twist dance the most popular dance in the World by 1961. The most famous of the “dance crazes”, the twist, centered around New York’s “Peppermint Lounge™”, was the closest thing to rock’n’roll to come out during the dark ages. The dance had no well-defined moves and it was openly erotic.
In its own peculiar way, “Peppermint Twist®” by Joey Dee & The Starliters started its own pop culture revolution. An odd kind of pop culture revolution in that instead of being a youth revolution (as tradition dictates a good pop culture revolution really ought) was a revolution based largely on well moneyed grown-ups, who liked to sip on a couple of martinis as they listened to their music. “Peppermint Twist®” was the moment that the rock’n’roll beat (or something like it, since it seems more jazz influenced really) mingled with New York nightlife.
“Peppermint Twist®” is a song written by Joey Dee, recorded and released by Joey Dee and the Starliters in 1961. Capitalizing on the Twist dance craze and the nightclub in which Dee performed (“The Peppermint Lounge™”), the song hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in early 1962.
The New York Times put it well: “Instead of youth growing up, adults are sliding down.” And why not? It was a lot of fun. The song? It’s almost as fun as the dance itself, which, what with the one-two-three kick and the one-two-three-jump, it’s significantly trickier than the original twist (there’s a significantly high risk of looking like a fool) that had been Number One the week before. It’s almost as much fun as they look as though they are having in their photos.
New York City’s new Peppermint Lounge™ became the epicenter of the Twist craze and after a vanguard of glamorous celebrity jet-setters — including Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Marlon Brando, and Frank Sinatra and many more — each famously made the news by doing the moves at the Manhattan-based discotheque, the fad went mainstream, and the room’s house band, Joey Dee and the Starliters, also scored a No. 1 hit, “Peppermint Twist® — Part I,” in 1961 – Upscale socialites were dancing the Twist at the Peppermint Lounge™ in New York City and the dance craze quickly moved to other countries.
Joey Dee Dancing The Peppermint Twist® ➜
Many celebrities frequented the Peppermint Lounge™, including The Beatles during their first U.S. visit in 1964. The lounge was the home base of Joey Dee and the Starliters, who recorded their #1 hit “Peppermint Twist®” at the venue in the early 1960s.
Between the years 1958 and 1965, 128 West 45th Street was home to the popular discotheque known as Peppermint Lounge™. Not only was Peppermint Lounge™ the site that spring boarded the iconic Twist dance of the 1960’s, it is also well documented to be where go-go dancing got its start. The Peppermint Lounge™ was most swinging in the early ‘60’s, when people around the nation were doing the Twist.
Only a month after the Peppermint Lounge™ lowered the drawbridge to let in the elegant riffraff, Tom Wolfe wrote, “Joey Dee, twenty-two, the bandleader at the Peppermint Lounge™, was playing the Twist at the $100-a-plate Party of the Year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was more than an interested bystander. It was she who stamped the presidential seal on the Twist and turned the White House into the Peppermint Lounges of the Potomac. First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy liked to visit the Peppermint Lounge™, was pictured in newspapers dancing the Twist. The “Peppermint Twist®” was a pop cultural phenomenon practically by Presidential decree! And it appears to have divided the nation along political lines as well: former President Dwight Eisenhower came out against it. But of course he did. He was always such an old fuddy-duddy. “I have no objection to the Twist as such. But it does represent some kind of change in our standards. What has happened to our concepts of beauty and decency and morality?”
The First Go-Go Club. The origins of Go-Go Dancing actually date back to 1958 when the first Go-Go club, Peppermint Lounge™ opened in New York City. It was from here that ‘The Twist’ was launched. How Go-Go Dancing Started – During this golden era at the Peppermint Lounge™, girls used to get on the tables, wearing mini skirts and what later became known as ‘Go-Go Boots’ and dance The Twist. The spin off from this was the management obviously new a good thing when they saw it and so decided to hire sexy girls to dance and keep the customers entertained. These girls are widely regarded as the first Go-Go Dancers, and it is from this point that Go-Go Dancing gained popularity.
The Peppermint Lounge™ was an early discotheque where “go-go” dancing is reputed to have originated in the early 1960s. “The Twist” dance craze was closely associated with the Peppermint Lounge™ night club. Women began getting up on tables here and dancing “the twist”. That’s a feat that would never be duplicated. So, let’s do the Twist—again!
By the mid-1960’s, more than 5000 discos had opened in the United States. The twist set the stage for other gyrating dances like the Shake, the Hitchhike, the Monkey, the Pony, the Swim, the Funky Broadway and many more.
The Four Seasons, The Crystals, The Beach Boys, Liza Minnelli, The Ronettes, The Rascals, Madonna, and many more had their professional debut at the Peppermint Lounge™ night club in NYC.
The largest twist dance was achieved by 3,040 participants at an event organized by The Salvation Army at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss. on August 23, 2014.