Rock 'n' Roll Dance Styles

Updated April 17, 2017

The rock 'n' roll dance style emerged in the late 1950s as the national premiere of the TV show "American Bandstand" brought rock 'n' roll music and dancing to that music into the limelight. The dance movements were imitations of earlier dances in black culture, in which the head, shoulders, knees and legs moved simultaneously in different directions. The style has since evolved into specific rock 'n' roll dance genres defined by musical styles and specific techniques.

Rockabilly and Rock 'n' Roll Dance Style

Rockabilly was one of the first rock 'n' roll music genres. The music combines elements of country and rock 'n' roll. The rock 'n' roll dance style that accompanies the music is a combination of the jitterbug, lindy hop and other swing styles. The steps are syncopated and dancers perform acrobatic moves, such as tossing the female partner into the air.

The Philly Bop

The Philly Bop dance emerged in the late 1950s and is similar to the lindy hop of the early 1900s. Feet glide in a six-step dance that follows the pattern of double-step, double-step, step-step. Introduced on "American Bandstand," the dance has been described as a smoothed-out version of the jitterbug, a fast-moving dance with similar steps. Partners hold hands throughout the dance, which features Motown music.

The Twist

The twist is a fad dance that emerged in the early 1960s, was created to accompany the song "The Twist", by Chubby Checker. Partners, who do not touch, stand in front of each other while resting their weight on the ball of one foot. That foot stays firmly planted while the rest of the body twists with the music. The arms are bent at a right angle and move from side to side during the dance.

The Stroll

The stroll is a line dance that was popular in the late 1950s. Dancers stand across from each other in parallel lines while stepping from side to side with the music. Those at the top of the line come together and dance down the centre aisle. The style is free form and is danced to swing or blues music.

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About the Author

Jessica Davis has been a professional writer since 2005. She has worked in various media outlets, writing for a bricklaying trade publication, several research companies and her favorite: a major entertainment company in Washington where she produced scripts and online content. Davis earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism.