I’m just going to come right out and say it without sugar-coating it: the Macarena is the Chicken Dance of the 21st Century. Even though we’ve been crossing our arms, patting our hips, and hopping for 20 years now, it shows no signs of fading away as the dance of choice for a wedding reception. Maybe it’s the infectious melody or the insightful lyrics; nope. It’s because it’s the simplest dance you can do and still call it dancing. So Macarena at your wedding if you must, but please consider these other dance songs as well.
Freak Nasty, “Da Dip”
The song: A minimal 90’s hip-hop jam with a nice laid-back groove and a couple of MCs who don’t seem like they’re trying very hard. “Steppin’ it off with the next verse / and it’s all clean, ‘cause I’m not gonna curse” is about as clever as they get. Still, for all its “tossed off at the end of a bong-rip session” quality, it’s charming.
The dance: Couldn’t be simpler. “I put my hand upon your hip, when I dip you dip we dip / You put your hand upon my hip, when I dip you dip we dip / You put yours and I put mine and we can dip down low and roll and grind.” So there’s going to be a lot of hip-touching, and a lot of dipping. Even Aunt Marge can handle those instructions.
Digital Underground, “The Humpty Dance”
The song: kind of a novelty hit for the Digital Underground, this rap tune has a pretty healthy sense of self-deprecating humor. The closest it gets to a “gangsta” feel is when Humpty threatens to “eat up all your crackers and your licorice.” So just keep him away from your snacks, and you’re good.
The dance: The genius of the Humpty Dance is that it describes exactly how people who don’t know how to dance look when they try to dance: “It’s supposed to look like a fit or a convulsion / Anyone can play this game …No two people will do it the same / Ya got it down when ya appear to be in pain.” So odds are even if you haven’t heard the song, you already know how to do the dance.
Chubby Checker, “The Twist”
The song: If your parents and grandparents are getting tired of the hip-hop music the kids these days seem to like, throw them a bone with this classic rock ‘n’ roll tune. Even now, Chubby Checker’s enthusiasm for twisting can inspire a dance floor to fill up with hip-swiveling fools.
The dance: The funny thing about the Twist is everyone just seems to already know how to do it. There aren’t explicit instructions in the song. “It goes like this,” Chubby says, but that’s not helpful. “Round and round and up and down it goes,” he claims, but mostly it’s just rotating your hips side-to-side. Still, its’ one of those innate things all humans know how to do.
There are plenty of songs out there for mid-to-expert-level dancers: The Electric Slide, the Achy Breaky, the Hustle, the Dougie, to name a few. But for those not as sure of their move-busting capabilities, one of these three light-hearted, easy-going charmers is a godsend on the dance floor.