The Twist is Here to Stay

Faculty Mentor(s)

Professor Matthew Farmer, Hope College
Dr. Jeanne Petit, Hope College

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Nowadays, the Twist, both the song and the dance, is a common sight at weddings. It’s a relatively simple move that both young and old know, typically classified in the same repertoire as the Bunny Hop and the Electric Slide--cheesy and slightly ridiculous, but a fun classic. This research reveals that when the Twist was first introduced on American Bandstand in the 1960’s, adults, particularly the parents of teenagers, viewed it as anything but harmless or cute. The Twist shocked adult culture and seemed to cue the impending downfall not only of social dance, but of American morality. As the baby boomer generation came of age, the Twist became a cultural icon of the new youth in revolt in the youth-obsessed culture of the time. It began a national dance craze, breaking all previous social dance rules and radically altering dance styles on a widespread basis, from very structured partnering to individual expressions of sheer enjoyment. Today’s solo freestyle dancing was set in motion by the Twist.

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