How the Twist Worked

By: Julia Layton

How to Do the Twist

Belgian champion Twisters Demandt Gilbert and Hester Wienen could have likely given you some pointers on the dance.
Belgian champion Twisters Demandt Gilbert and Hester Wienen could have likely given you some pointers on the dance.
Keystone/Getty Images

While you don't see masses of people twisting the night away at dance clubs (the dance itself hasn't been a craze in decades), elements of the Twist -- the hips, the dancing-apart-but-together -- have stood the test of time.

Plus, retro is (almost) always groovy.


To properly Twist, then, you'll need at least a modicum of rhythm. And that's about it.

If you've ever stubbed out a cigarette with your foot, or seen someone else do it with style (check out Olivia Newton-John in the final scene of "Grease" for reference), you've seen the Twist without musical accompaniment. It goes pretty much like this:

  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your arms relaxed, slightly bent, at your sides, hands outward. They should be at about hip level.
  2. Bend your right knee and raise your right heel, toes still touching the floor. Shift your weight onto your left leg.
  3. Move your right shoulder back, your left shoulder forward, and thrust your right hip to the side. Then thrust your left hip to the side, and keep going back and forth between the two. Switch your shoulder positions to coincide with your hips' movements, always turning your upper body in the direction of your thrusting hip.
  4. Still thrusting one hip and then the other, slowly shift your weight onto your right leg, lifting your left heel. Repeat steps two and three.
  5. Smile. It's the '60s.

With the right amount of attitude, rhythm and maybe a little humor, the Twist can still go over big. And beyond the retro appeal, the dance is a requirement at any '60s-themed party -- or any of the "Twisting" conventions that have popped up around the song's 50th anniversary, some of which have featured Chubby Checker himself performing the iconic hit.

Because, ultimately, the Twist never goes out of style. It's kind of like The Beatles that way. Only kitschier.

Related Articles


  • Biography. Chubby (Aug. 22, 2011)
  • Chubby Checker Marks 50 Years of "The Twist." CBS News. July 9, 2010. (Aug. 22, 2011)
  • Jourdan, Kristi. "Twist dance craze creator forever immortalized on Las Vegas street." Las Vegas Review-Journal. June 7, 2011. (Aug. 22, 2011)