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Learn all about the Hustle!

What is the Hustle?

The hustle peaked in popularity in the mid- to late 1970s, particularly following the release of the film, Saturday Night Fever. It can be danced with a partner or in a line formation, and a number of variations of each style exist, from the New York Hustle to the California Hustle, i.e., the “Bus Stop.”

History of the Hustle

Unlike many other ballroom dances, the origins of the Hustle aren’t buried in the distant past. Many hustle fans can still remember when the dance first swept the country in the mid- to late 1970s following the release of the blockbuster film, Saturday Night Fever.

As with so many other dance crazes, the hustle began in the dance clubs and party scene of New York City. Dancers in the local Latino community created the dance, infusing the salsa with some swing, mambo and even tango. The popularity of dance competitions, which attracted many of the city’s best dancers, introduced the hustle to the mainstream, and dancers throughout the country began to introduce variations of the original steps. Line and partner versions of the hustle were developed, with Saturday Night Fever depicting several types of each. Disco fever hit its peak in the middle years of the decade, and the hustle became the dance that defined pop culture for the post-sixties generation.

Once the hype that surrounded the film died down in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the hustle lost some of its luster as people began to rediscover other Latin dances. It has since regained some of its appeal, however, particularly with the popularity of the TV series, That ’70s Show, and the trend among many stylish hosts to hold ’70s-themed parties and events.

How to Dance the Hustle/Basic Steps

If you can walk, you can do the basic California Hustle. Line dancing fans will already be familiar with this popular step. It only looks difficult but only because it has so many steps, but it’s very easy. So put on some of your favorite disco records and have a go:

  1. Start with your feet in closed position.
  2. Step back with your right foot.
  3. Follow with a step back with your left foot.
  4. Step back again with your right foot.
  5. Close your left foot to your right foot.
  6. Step forward with your left foot.
  7. Step forward with your right foot.
  8. Step forward with your left foot.
  9. Close your right foot with your left foot.
  10. Step to the left with your left foot.
  11. Step to the left, crossing behind your left foot, with your right foot.
  12. Step to the left with your left foot.
  13. Close your right foot to your left foot.
  14. Step to the right with your right foot.
  15. Step to the right, crossing behind your right foot, with your left foot.
  16. Step to the right with your right foot.
  17. Close your left foot with your right foot.

Great Hustle Songs

“Stayin’ Alive” – the Bee Gees
“Physical” – Olivia Newton-John
“Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” – Rod Stewart
“Dancing Queen” – ABBA
“Celebration” – Kool and the Gang
“Shake Your Booty” – K.C. and the Sunshine Band

The Hustle in the Movies

“Saturday Night Fever” (1978)
“Disco Fever” (1978)
“Stayin’ Alive” (1983)
“The Last Days of Disco” (1998)

Learn to Dance the Hustle

Arthur Murray, a Boston-based dance school, is part of the internationally renowned Arthur Murray Dance Studios system . The Boston franchise teaches hundreds of students each year with lessons in the hustle, rumba, salsa , ballroom, swing dance, cha-cha, and others. To schedule your complimentary first dance lesson, fill out our on-site contact form here.


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