History of Line Dancing

This history page is still in progress as more data is being collected. Please don’t copy or use it as absolute facts yet. It’s just a reference for those interested in Line Dancing History.


Many cultures have had dances done in lines as well as circles as far back as recorded history. Examples would be African dances, Native American dances as well as European dances. They might not look like the line dances we do today but dance is always evolving. We see that even today with many “new” styles of dance. New generations create new moves, styles, movements and of course the music affects the dances as well.


The Shim Sham began. Legend has it the Shim Sham was a warmup exercise (named after its first step) for Lindy Hop dancers at the Savoy Club using Tap and Jazz steps. Edgar Sampson wrote a song called “Stompin’ at the Savoy” based on the distinctive rhythm of the dancer’s feet. When the Frankie Manning was asked: “Were the Shim Sham or other line dances done at the Savoy?” Frankie replied: “Yes, but not like we do them now. The Shim Sham actually originated in a night club. We would take it to the Savoy, and we would just start doing it. It wasn’t organized or anything.” Frankie Manning: May 26, 1914 – April 27, 2009

1957 approx

The The Stroll started on American Bandstand, the popular TV dance party that began in 1954. The dance was inspired by Chuck Willis’ hit C.C. Rider. It became so popular that Willis was dubbed “King of the Stroll.” But the dance soon got a song of its own when Dick Clark suggested to the Diamonds that they create a song specifically for the dance. The Diamonds hot with their hit Lil Darlin’ (1957), struck gold again with The Stroll — famous for its opening line,”Come, let’s Stroll.”.

1959 approx

The Madison probably started in Chicago, although it may have been Detroit or Cleveland.


The Cowboy Boogie (aka. The Watergate) is started. Choreographed by Kenneth Erle Engel (Kentucky Ken). He originally named the dance Watergate after the Nixon scandal later, by an unknown person it became The Cowboy Boogie.


The Electric Slide is started. The dance was created by American dancer Ric Silver. Originally it was called The Electric, but because the song the lyrics are “I’ll teach you the electric slide,” many dancers thought the dance was called the Electric Slide . It was choreographed to the international hit song Electric Boogie by Marcia Griffiths. The song was originally released in 1976 and re-released in 1989, when it became a dance craze.


The Tush Push is started. The dance was choreographed by Kenneth Erle Engel (Kentucky Ken)


The Flying 8 is created. Choreographed by Kenneth Erle Engel (Kentucky Ken). Since all line dances at the time were done facing the same way Ken decided to create a variation on Four Corners so the dancers could cross through each other.


The Walkin’ Wazi is started. Choreographed by Michael Callahan & Dave Getty (per Michael Callahan) Thanks for your interest in the Walkin’ Wazi …Let me very briefly tell you what really happened. The original dance didn’t have a name. It was just one of several that my friend and I created together circa 1971. My friend’s name was Wozzy. At least that’s how most people knew him. Only his family and very close friends knew his real name was Doug Todd. In memory of all the good times we had in college, I gave the dance the name of it’s co-originator “Wozzy”. I taught this dance to many friends over the next 15 years, including the other members of our dance team, the West 40 Flyers, in 1986. But that original dance is only the beginning of the “Walkin’ Wazi”.
In order for the team to do this dance in competition, steps were added at the end to create a transition to another line dance, the Bonanza, to complete our solo dance number. The team’s official choreographer, Dave Getty added the grapevines and basketball turns for this purpose, and the dance was renamed “Walkin’ Wazi” for obvious reasons. He didn’t know the correct spelling for Wozzy.


Dave Serfling starts teaching people to dance. The Cowboy Boogie and Electric Slide were the first 2 “Line” Dances he taught. He later made some changes to a Waltz line dance and renamed it Dave’s Waltz so there wouldn’t be any confusion with the other line dance.


Cruisin’ was choreographed by Neil Hale


The Achy Breaky Heart craze hits.


The Macarena became a dance craze


The Cha-cha Slide started in 1996/1998 and gained traction in the USA in 2001


The Cha-cha Slide (Part 2) was recorded.

The Cupid Shuffle started. It’s by Cupid.


The Wobble came out


The Outlaw was choreographed by Suzanne Wilson