The dance lives on

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

POP dance is usually described as a “dance craze” because it gets mass appeal at a certain point then fades away. Like pop music, pop dance could become a reference point for a certain period or generation.

In the ‘30s, movies played a role in pop bance when these introduced Charleston, tango and foxtrot, among others, worldwide. After World War II, newfound freedom led to the rock ‘n roll revolution, producing cultural icons like James Dean and Elvis Presley and pop dances like Boogie Woogie, The Bop, The Stroll and Swing. Then there was “The Twist” in the ‘60s that brought about Mashed Potato and Watusi.

But nobody thought pop dance would redefine social dancing with the disco, a movement that shut rock music out, involved strong bass lines and synthesizer-driven music, and opened up stylish disco clubs. Donna Summer reigned as queen.


The disco era reached its peak in 1977 when record producer Robert Stigwood released the film, ‘Saturday Night Fever’ starring John Travolta with the movie soundtrack prominently featuring The Bee Gees. The backlash on disco came about on July 12, 1979. An anti-disco protest in Chicago called "Disco Demolition Night" attacked disco for its decadent sub-culture and for the unimaginative and mechanical sound.

In the ‘80s, anyone associated with disco music was left out of radio airplay. MTV had contributed much to the ‘80s as Michael Jackson dominated the charts with his brand of R n’ B music and more importantly, his imaginative dance moves. The ‘80s also saw the reemergence of Latin dance music in the mainstream as salsa and merengue, but it was lambada that charmed many.

The Prince of Pop maintained his stature through the ‘90s and cemented it in 1997 with “Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix” becoming the best-selling remix album of all time. And who would not remember, "Macarena," a Spanish dance song by Los del Río?

The 21st century could not do without dance music, now termed as “dance-pop” that has all the elements of disco and given new genre names such as trance and house. Then there are Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.

In 2012, You Tube produced a global superstar, Psy for "Gangnam Style." In 2013, disco found its way back into the charts through Daft Punk, Bruno Mars, Gotye, Avacii, Calvin Harris and Robin Thicke.

If only to prove that Pop Dance music is here to stay, we ask the question, “What song would close 2013 as number one in the United States Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs?” The answer: “MacArthur Park 2013” from the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer.

Pop dance and its accompanying music lives on.

(Note: This is a truncated version of the main feature in CORD Music Magazine Jan 2014 issue that I edit. Visit:

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 08, 2014.


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