There’s nothing new, it seems, about Miley. Every decade has its dance crazes – moves that at first seem too racy for the mainstream and then explode in popularity. We can trace them all the way back to the 19th and early 20th century, when the waltz was considered risque because the partners were touching. In 1913, there was a riot at the premiere of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring at the Paris Opera House, thanks in part to choreographer and dancer Vaslav Nijinsky’s unconventional moves.
In the ’20s and ’30s, dances like the Charleston and the Lindy Hop were banned in many dance halls. In 1956, Elvis’s hip-swivel on The Milton Berle Show electrified the nation. Images of girls screaming and fainting (and older people’s disapproving frowns) are almost as iconic as the King himself.
When Latin style dancing gained popularity in the U.S., jaws dropped. Just look at the tango. And the word “lambada” is practically synonymous with “forbidden.”
Breakdancing and moshing, while perhaps not salacious, were considered dangerous and often banned from school grounds. Schools across the country still implement bans of certain behavior at dances, particularly for grinding.
And now, there’s twerking. It’s been around for years, but it took Miley Cyrus to get us talking about it.