How the Twist Worked

By: Julia Layton

"Come on baby, let's do the Twist."
"Come on baby, let's do the Twist."
GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images

The scenes are iconic: Mia and Vincent, so serious about it in "Pulp Fiction"; Peggy in "Mad Men," trying to seduce Pete; Ferris Bueller atop a parade float with thousands cheering him on. The dance called "the Twist" has left an indelible impression on multiple generations since it hit the airwaves in 1960… but why?

It's about as simple as a dance can get, and it's pretty low-energy as far as these things go. It's sexy, but not lewd; Twist partners don't even touch. The dramatic impact of the Twist on the youth of '60s (and beyond) had perhaps more to do with its social implications than it did the easy, anyone-can-do-it hip rocking that flooded dance floors and living rooms around the world -- although the hip thing definitely didn't hurt.


In this article, we'll find out what the Twist is, how it got started, who popularized the iconic dance and how you can do it on your own dance floor today. There's nothing quite like the Twist for straight-up, retro fun.

Let's begin with the guy who started it all with a catchy song: Chubby Checker, aka grocery-store clerk Ernest Evans…