How to disco dance for beginners
13 Simple Disco Dance Moves for Beginners
Many people consider disco to be a relic of the 70s and 80s, but it’s still alive and well in this day and age. In fact, disco dance and music have recently undergone a revival. People now became taken once more by the energy of disco dance moves.
If you’re one of many who just recently discovered the magic of this dance and would like to take a shot at it, this guide can help get you started. Whether you’re practicing by yourself at home or with an instructor, try out one of these basic disco moves. They’ll give you a solid foundation and will give you the opportunity to try more advanced techniques later on.
Of course, after learning a couple of tricks, you can confidently perform on the dance floor, as well!
- 13 Common Disco Dance Moves for Beginners
- 1. The Disco Finger – The iconic disco dance moves
- 2. Double Arm Swing
- 3. The Bus Stop
- 4. The Snap
- 5. The Elbow Pull
- 6. The Bump
- 7. The Get Down
- 8. The YMCA
- 9. The Retro Hustle – A classic disco dance moves
- 10. The Funky Chicken
- 11. The Butterfly
- 12. The Back Catch
- 13. The Electric Slide
- Final Words
13 Common Disco Dance Moves for Beginners
1. The Disco Finger – The iconic disco dance movesSource: Bostonherald.com
This is an incredibly iconic move. Daresay, it’s the signature dance move for disco after being popularized by John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever.
The Disco Finger doesn’t use a lot of the body from the knees down. Instead, the focus is on the hips and one hand. Extend your index finger (of any hand). Then, move your hand upward and downward in a diagonal movement. As you do, thrust your hip from side to side.
It’s a fairly simple move. So, at most, you’d be able to nail down the pattern in an hour or two of practicing in front of the mirror.
2. Double Arm Swing
Another iconic move in the disco world. Though it is simple, the move is fun to do and can display a lot of energy and openness on your part.
There are two counts to the Double Arm Swing. The starting position is a quarter turn to your left side with your left foot.
- On the first count, thrust out your chest and throw your right arm forward and into the air. At the same time, swing your left arm backward.
- The second count is bending your knee and dropping your hip as you swing your right arm downward and to your back. Swing your left arm forward and upward.
Repeat to the beat of the music or as fast as you can, depending on your mood.
3. The Bus Stop
Like other moves in disco, the Bus Stop is simple, yet fun. Typically, it is performed on the backing of Are You Ready? (Do The Bus Stop). But really, you can use it on any fast-tempo disco song.
Compared to the Disco Finger or the Double Arm Swing, the pattern is a bit more complicated. With a bit of practice, it’ll become natural in no time.
- Start up with both of your feet together. Loosen up your knees a little bit. Don’t lock up, or you’re going to look very robotic.
- Take a step back with your right foot, then take an even farther step back with your left foot.
- The moment your left foot hits the floor, take a step back with your right foot again.
- Now it’s time to move forward! Bring your left foot forward, then follow it up with your right.
- Take another step with your left foot.
- Bring your right foot alongside your left foot and give it a small tap, stopping the walking motion. Clap your hands in time with the foot tap.
- Take a step to the left using your left foot. Follow it up with a step right behind the left foot with your right foot. Repeat this pattern three times.
- Once again tap your left foot with your right foot, then clap your hands.
- Now reverse the pattern. Take a step to the right with your right foot, then bring your left foot behind the right foot. Repeat three times.
- Tap your right foot with your left foot and clap your hands.
- Make a quarter turn to either your left or right, and start again from the top.
It’s a pretty long-winded pattern, but take your time and practice. You’ll be able to get the hang of it a few hours in.
4. The Snap
The Snap, also known as the “Hip Check”, emphasizes the movement of the hips area. If you’re looking for a sensual move that can show off your body as well as your nimbleness, it’s a good one to try.
- Start with your feet being in-line with your hips.
- Shift your hips to the right, then snap your fingers using your right hand.
- Now, hips to the left, bend your knees, and immediately swing your right hips to the right.
- Straighten up your legs and swing your hips to the left again.
Repeat the pattern from the beginning and keep it going to the rhythm of the music.
Do note that the Snap is a very fast-paced move, which can make it pretty challenging to master at the beginning if you practice at full speed. Instead, we recommend going slow at first. Practice at half the normal tempo and gradually speed it up when you become more familiar with the pattern.
5. The Elbow Pull
This is one of the more difficult moves in disco for beginners as it requires some coordination. If you’ve had experience with dancing before, you probably would be able to nail the Elbow Pull in an hour. For those who don’t, you’ll need a few hours to get into the rhythm.
- Start up with your feet apart. Your arms should be skewing slightly to the right. Ball up your hands into fists.
- Swing your hips right and follow it up by bringing your left foot to the right, as well. Draw your left elbow up and to the back until your forearm is perpendicular to your shoulder.
- Next, swing your hips to the left and follow that up by stepping your right foot to the right. Punch forward in a line across your chest with your left arm (note that you shouldn’t punch too hard, else you could get tendonitis when practicing or dancing for long periods). Keep your forearm perpendicular to your shoulder.
- Swing your hips to the right and bring your left foot to the right. Pull your elbow backward, but unlike before, keep your forearm low and perpendicular to your hips instead of your shoulder.
Repeat the pattern to the beat of the music (or as fast as you can!)
The arm tends to be the most difficult part of this move. Most people will feel a bit awkward at first while practicing the arm motion. So, we suggest that you start first with the arm. Once you get used to the pulling-punching motion, then add in the hips and the legs.
6. The Bump
To learn and perform the Bump, you’ll need the help of a partner. It’s pretty easy and fun to do (especially when you do it with someone you’re romantically interested in, but it can also be done with a friend).
Dance freestyle however you wish on the dance or practice floor. Then, when it’s time to pull this Move (signal your partner), swing one side of your hip towards your partner and bump it with theirs.
Quickly swing your body to the opposite direction and bump the other side of your hips with your partner. Repeat!
Your partner should also mirror your movement and, ideally, you two should be bumping your hips together in tandem and to the beat.
7. The Get Down
The Get Down traces its roots back to African dances. This move requires you to keep your legs wide apart. Then, bend at the waist area and knees to get down as close as possible to the floor.
8. The YMCA
Everyone’s probably heard of the YMCA by The Village People before. And if you do, you most likely already know this classic dance, as well.
It’s so popular that it’s not just done in the disco circles these days. It has long since evolved into an Internet meme, so you can see people busting it out at various popular events like school dances and sporting events.
Of course, this dance is best done on top of the YMCA song.
The dance itself is pretty simple. You just have to move your arms and twist your body to spell the letter “Y”, “M”, “C”, “A” with your figure.
Although it’s not exactly required, whenever people come together to recreate this dance, they always scream the lyrics at the top of their lungs. So, we suggest that you do the same, as well, when you get the opportunity! It’s a lot more fun that way.
9. The Retro Hustle – A classic disco dance moves
This is one of the most famous disco dance moves from the 70’s.
The rise of the Hustle began with the chart-topping song “The Hustle” by Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony in 1975. Because of its massive popularity, the Hustle has had many different variations since 1975. As a result, the original version is often referred to as the “Retro Hustle” to distinguish it from newer versions.
It’s a simple sequence of movements that includes taking three steps forward and three steps backward. In the process, you’d also be doing extra movements like pointing your finger skyward and weaving your fists together in circles.
Some people think it looks a bit silly … but just like everything in disco, the point is maximum fun value. Plus, since the move is done on an 8-beat count, it can actually fit just about any disco song on the catalog!
10. The Funky Chicken
The Funky Chicken is better known by its other name: the Chicken Dance.
As far as being silly, this is probably among the silliest moves in disco. However, at a party or on the dance floor with other people or with friends, it’s extremely fun.
- Rest your arms on either side of your chest and ball up your hands into fists. Your elbows should be tucked to the lower side of your ribs.
- Shake your head forward and backward for 4 or 8 counts.
- Imitate a chicken’s wings by pushing your elbows outward while keeping your hands close to your chest. Then, draw them back in again (just imagine a chicken flapping its wings).
- Repeat this to the beat of the music or as quickly as possible!
To make the move look better, you can add some lower body movements to it. When you bring your elbows up, bend one of your knees and swing your foot out. That would rotate your hip.
When you bring your elbow back in again, switch out the foot.
11. The Butterfly
For this move, you need a partner.
Grab both of their hands with yours and grip tight (but not too tight!).
Then, walk around one another to the beat of the music. Depending on your mood, you can steer both of you in a clockwise or counterclockwise motion.
12.The Back Catch
Since this move will require some flexibility on your part, do a quick warm-up first before you try it.
- Stand on your right leg, then kick your left leg as far back as you can.
- As you kick your left leg, bring both of your arms backward and try to reach for your foot as it goes up. If your back is bendy enough, you may even be able to grab onto your foot. But don’t feel bad if you can’t, grabbing the foot isn’t really required.
The move would make you look like a ballet dancer on the stage!
13. The Electric Slide
The Electric Slide is popularized by the song “Electric Boogie” by Marcia Griffiths and Bunny Wailer.
- To do this move, start off by doing a grapevine.
- Take a step to the right with your right foot.
- Follow that up by taking a step to the right with your left foot by moving it behind your right foot. Your legs should be crossed here.
- Step right with your right foot again and your legs will be uncrossed.
- Put your feet back close together. Tap your left foot to the side of your right foot.
Repeat the grapevine but to the left instead of the right.
- Now step three steps back with your right foot. Tap your left foot next to your right foot after you finish the third step back.
- Step forward with your left foot after the tap. Then, swing your right foot behind you and tap your right foot’s toe against the ground.
- Step back onto your right foot after your toe struck the ground.
- Bring your left foot forward again and tap it in front of your right foot.
Once your left foot hits the ground, immediately pivots to the left by 90°. To make it more aesthetically pleasing, you can kick your right foot up and brush the ground with your heel as you pivot in place.
Repeat the steps until the music ends!
Disco is often seen by people nowadays as “old people” dance. But that’s entirely untrue! Head to a club with some friends and use up all these disco dance moves. You’ll be able to see for yourself just how fun this dance can be!
Disco dance lessons online - Basic disco moves
Disco is back (well maybe not…). All the popular dances that made Saturday Night Fever such a success are making a comeback. Learn the Hustle and all the popular dance steps to keep you moving to the music of the 70’s and 80’s.
The following Disco dance lesson can help you get started with some iconic moves.
Basic Disco moves:
Welcome to Funkalicious Feet, I’m Ryan Kasprzak and today we’re going to be breaking down some classic disco moves. Now, any hot dog vendor can learn these simple easy disco moves, but you want to look right? So we’re going to be talking about three easy rules to looking cool – Ryan’s three rules of looking cool.
Rule #1: Bounce, right? When you hear the music going, just let your knees go, get a little bounce going. I’m looking cooler already. Looking cool, right?
Rule #2: Head. Get your head going. We’re starting to look cooler. Getting towards cool now. And,
Rule #3: Attitude, right? You want to look cool. You want to feel confident. If everything goes down, I’ve got my head going, I’ve got my knees going – not so cool, right?
So again, Ryan’s three rules of looking cool:
Number 1 – Bounce
Number 2 – Head
Number 3 – Attitude
Keep those in mind while we’re learning these disco moves and you’re going to look cool too.
Okay, so the first disco move we’re going to learn is called “Point to the exits.” So you want to envision a bright orange exit sign over here, a bright orange exit sign over here. I take my fingers and I point to the exits. Right? Remember my three rules of looking cool? I’m bouncing, my head’s going, I got my attitude as I point to the exits. Good.
Our second move is a slight variation, we go – exit and mouse holes. Right? So I take one finger, this is a classic John Travolta move. I point to the exits. I point to the mouse holes, right? Pretend there’s a mouse hole and Tom’s going to come out of there, right? So I go, exits – mouse holes – exits – mouse holes. See my three rules of looking cool? I’m bouncing, my head’s going, I’ve got the attitude going, right? Let’s try it on the left side. We go – exits – mouse holes – exits – mouse holes. Nice and easy. Good.
Now we’re moving on to a little bit more complicated step. This one’s called, “Pass the dishes.” And it’s like your buddy over here or your brother or something says, “Hey man, pass me some butter.” So what do you do? You pass the dishes. Right? I’m bringing it to my hip and I’m passing the dishes. Again the three rules of looking cool, my legs are bouncing, my head’s going. I’ve got a real smooth attitude. Yeah, on the left side just passing the dishes, just pass the dishes.
Good. We’re going to do a few more here. Now we’re going to move on to “The Lawnmower.” This one’s real easy. I just start the lawnmower. And then I mow the lawn. So I’m going – start it – start it – mow that lawn. Again left side, start it – start it – mow that lawn. Again three rules of looking cool, I’m bouncing, my head’s going, I’ve got a sweet attitude, start it – start it – mow that lawn. Then after that, after you mow the lawn, what do you do?
You water it with ”The Sprinkler.” So I’m taking my left hand behind my head, my right hand out. I start slow. Pop – pop – pop – then quick – pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop. Left side goes: 1, 2, 3, 4, quick – 5 and 6 and 7 and 8.
Okay, last one. This is my favorite disco move of all time. It’s called “The Flight Attendant,” right? When you get on the plane the flight attendant gives you some simple instructions. We put them into a disco move. So I take my two fingers like this and I just go, exits, exits, masks, seat belts – Exits, exits, masks, seat belts – See how my three rules of looking cool fit in here? My legs are bouncing, my head’s going and I’ve got the sweetest flight attendant attitude you have ever seen – Exits, exits, masks, seat belts.
All right now we’re going to try the combination with a little bit of music, maestro –
So remember rule number 1 – get my bounce going. I’m looking cool – get my head going. We’re going to try the moves. Here we go – Point to the exits – we go exits, exits, exits, exits, let’s try exits – mouse holes – exits – mouse holes, left side, pass those dishes, oh have some butter, left side, maybe roll, there you go, yeah.
Let’s do the lawnmower – we go start it – start it – mow that lawn, left side – start it – start it – mow that lawn.
Sprinkler – 1, 2, 3, 4, hit-hit-hit-hit-hit – Left side, 1, 2, 3, 4, hit-hit-hit
Flight attendant – exits, exits, masks, seat belts – once again – exits, exits, masks, seat belts
That’s our disco warm-up.
So those disco moves are great for incorporating into your warm up. They’re fun, they’re easy, they get you going and also you can think about ways to make your own disco moves. You can pretty much take any simple, every day activity, and as long as you remember the three rules of looking cool: bounce, head, attitude, you can make them into a disco move.
Like, for example, how about this one? Taking a test, hmmm, oh I got it. Taking the test, hmmm, oh I got it. Taking the test. Or, this is one of my favorites, making pancakes, right? Pour the batter. Grill it up. Flip it. Looks good. Pour the batter. Cook it up. Flip it. Looks good. Anything you want. Waiting for the bus, et cetera, et cetera.
Anyway if you have some ideas for some new disco moves, you can email me: [email protected] Maybe I’ll put your disco moves into our next podcast. This has been Funkalicious Feet. I’m Ryan Kasprzak. Thanks for tuning in.
For other dance styles visit our online dancing lessons now.
Hand movements at the disco
Hand movements at the disco can not only become the basis of your dance, but also attract attention from persons of the opposite sex. Don't let the "work of the hands" compromise you or create difficulties during or after the dance.
Safe arm movements at discotheques
Safe arm movements are, first of all, those that do not hurt the surrounding dancers. Throw your elbow in the wrong direction, and you may well “charge” someone in the eye, then a response will follow and the dance will end in a squabble or fight. Therefore, when starting to dance, look around how tightly the people in the disco surround you, and keep your elbows pressed to the body.
Start with your arms - from the shoulders. Raise and lower them sharply, as they shrug their shoulders, not knowing the answer. Alternate the work of one shoulder and two shoulders, change the rhythm. Hands can be lowered along the body and work in time with shaking hands, or you can put your palms on your belt, as Beoins does. Add a head and move the body, this will give your movements a finished look.
Imagine the pharaoh with his arms folded across his chest. You have to do something similar. Touch your left shoulder with your right hand, and your right shoulder with your left, so that your hands lie on top of each other crosswise (we do this to the beat of the music for “one-two”). For girls: Unhook your hands and place them on your hips in a downward sliding motion, as if you were straightening a rolled up skirt. For guys: unhook your arms and bend your elbows, placing your thumbs on the shoulder of the corresponding arm (left to left, right to right). Sharply straighten your arms forward, bending all fingers except forefinger and thumb.
If you don't know how to move your arms, just put your bent arms behind your head and bring your elbows together so that they are parallel to each other. Girls can pick up their hair with their hands and perform a wave with their legs or with their whole body, and guys with this hand position can draw attention to their legs.
Dangerous hand movements in discotheques
Dangerous movements can be, not only if you hit someone with your hand while dancing. Another danger comes from the ambiguity of disco dance culture. To a greater extent this applies to girls. All sorts of booty waves with self-talk with hands give a very definite message to active men, who are always enough at such events. For boys, the situation is slightly different. Discotheques can end up in a fight, even if someone looks at someone the wrong way, what then to say about hand movements that can be too aggressive in appearance, although they are nothing more than just a dance.
For girls: arm movements in discotheques must not be openly sexual in nature, i.e. stroking yourself in the chest, buttocks, neck and lips is not recommended if you are not ready for intimacy offers. There should be no “shooting” movements, with an intense throwing up of arms, elbows in different directions (only GO GO girls can dance like this on the podium or in the cage, because their task is to attract attention with the help of gestures).
For guys: when dancing, try not to show your fists too often, better use the position of your hands for dancing or waving. Many dancers use clenched fists during the dance just because they don't know where to put their fingers, but from the outside, such a dance can look like a sign of aggression, especially if the dancer is drunk.
When choosing a discotheque model, imitate others, but remember the general safety rules, because what “everyone” does may not suit you in the end.
How to properly dance to club music in a discotheque
Dance is body language, and dancing in a club is the only way to draw attention to yourself with this language, because in the crowd and noise it is impossible to speak differently. Steps, turns, tilts, jumps - in the light of strobe lights look spectacular when performed with skill. And it’s not at all difficult to learn them if you follow the advice of professionals and study in a dance studio. New faces are always welcome at Laboca!
A bit about the clubs
In order to understand how beautiful it is to move to modern club music, it is worth remembering a little about the history of this trend. The first nightclubs began to open in the 80s of the last century. They constantly gathered young people who demonstrated the latest innovations in dance elements on the dance floor. Therefore, the fashion for movement was constantly changing, and eventually turned into a mix of several styles. So for several decades, a whole club culture has developed, which you need to familiarize yourself with before entering the dance floor. The surge in popularity of club dancing led to the opening of special groups in dance schools and made everyone understand that this direction is worth learning.
The main thing is emotions!
Club dances are distinguished by the fact that they should be comprehended with an emotional component. Only a relaxed, flexible and ready to improvise person will move effectively on the dance floor. The main means of expressiveness of club dance are plasticity, keeping pace, impromptu and stylish appearance. If you were able to discard all the complexes and are ready to relax on the dance floor, consider that you have already received the first lesson in club dancing.
Before deciding how to dance to club music in a disco, choose your key style. Strip plastic, street jazz, hip-hop, go-go, or maybe disco? True, in order to move freely on the dance floor, a beginner dancer will have to master the basic elements of all these directions, and at the same time learn how to combine them with club music, while getting real pleasure from dancing. Pure improvisation, video lessons or classes at a dance school - you choose. But it is worth noting that several master classes in a professional studio will significantly save your time and effort.
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Club dance implies no restrictions, looseness and freedom. Movements are performed gently, smoothly, with a small amplitude. There are no complex elements, high jumps, flips and splits. Low slopes are also not welcome, they look vulgar. But different types of swing always look good. To master the basic swing, you should start by shaking your head to the beat of the music. Then beat the rhythm with your hand or foot, and then move on to springy movements with the whole body. Swinging the torso is performed by tilting the body forward and backward, and swinging with the help of the knees - by bending and unbending the legs to the music and connecting the foot: at the expense of "and" move the socks, pushing the heels away, on "one" - rest on the heels and spread the socks .
Don't forget your hands. Movements should look stylish, but at the same time remain safe, after all, you have to dance on the dance floor: one awkward movement with your elbow - and your neighbor is knocked out. Therefore, the elbows should be kept close to the body, and the shoulders should be moved mainly. Try to sharply raise and lower your shoulders to the beat of the music, repeating the same movements with your hands. Now add the head, body and legs. Of course, you are not the king of the dance floor yet, but you are already moving in the right direction.
Another move with the hands - the movement of the pharaoh.
Place your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right. To the beat of the music - for "one-two" hands are crossed. Further, the girl can unhook her hands and smoothly lower them to her hips, and the young man can open his hands and put his thumbs on the shoulders of the corresponding hands. On "four", stretch your arms forward, leaving all fingers bent, except for the thumb and forefinger.
The most versatile movement of the arms is to move them behind the head so that the elbows are parallel to each other. Girls can continue the element by performing a wave with the whole body, and young people can lower their head down, thereby drawing attention to their legs.
On the dance floor, do not perform amplitude movements with arms and legs, push and move ambiguously, if the desire to attract the attention of the opposite sex is not in the first place. The abundance of waves with the hips and the movements of the hands stroking themselves do not look like flirting, but rather give a very clear signal to action to other party participants.