12 Popular 80s Dance Moves To Attempt On The Dance Floor

As the 80s decade was roughly the prime time of music with the launch of MTV, more music videos were broadcast to fans and thus paved the way for some famous 80s dance moves of many genres to approach the general audience. 

Let’s see if these dances and their creators are familiar enough for you to recognize them immediately!

12 Popular 80s Dance Moves You Can Try

1. Cabbage Patch Dance

Even when hip-hop wasn’t as trendy, some moves were stealing the spotlight, and the Cabbage Patch dance was one of them. Despite regularly being compared to the Churning Butter move, Cabbage Patch was undeniably popular in the 80s.

Michelle Obama does Cabbage Patch Dance
Michelle Obama does Cabbage Patch Dance

Some early songs like “The Cabbage Patch Dance” by Rare Item & the Bud Buddies or “In the Cabbage Patch” by Delmar Donnell involved this dance, though it only turned into after the soundtrack of Gucci Crew II.

I’m not sure if the name came from the Cabbage Patch Kids doll, which was quite sought-after back then, or the slang for “money”, but who can deny how cool the circular movements of the arms and sometimes the gyrating hips are!

Check more: The Ultimate List of 60s Dance Moves

2. Running Man Dance

All hip-hop enthusiasts must have heard of the Running Man move! The dancer takes a step forward and simultaneously pulls the other foot back, so they stay in the same spot while still moving.

Running Man Dance

In an edition of Essence, they credited the dance to Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson’s choreographer. The first launch for Running Man was Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” MV.

Other records believed the credits should be given to MC Hammer, and Bobby Brown was the one popularizing the dance with his backward version of “Every Little Step”.

After the gloomy 90s era, the Running Man move was brought back by Britney Spears and Scarlett Johansson. 

In 2011, “Party Rock Anthem” MV by LMFAO was included and made it relevant again as it became the summer song of Billboard.

3. Roger Rabbit Dance

This dance was directly inspired by the animation “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and the jazzy motions immediately inspired hip-hop lovers. However, I don’t know the specific creator or the year it was made.

roger rabbit dance

The Roger Rabbit move resembled a backward Running Man. Nonetheless, instead of a stationary runner or a reverse runner, the dancer should look like a rabbit hopping and bouncing.

Rather than a short-lived trend, this move has steadily made its way into the basic move set of hip-hop and eventually the mainstream side of the entertainment industry. 

You can see it in dance contests, commercials, TV shows, and huge hits.

4. The Moonwalk

The Moonwalk move falls into the popping category, also known as the backslide. Its signature is the feet moving backward while the rest of the body seemingly heads in the opposite direction.

You might be surprised to know that the Moonwalk dance was an idea since the 1890s, and its first similar steps were created as soon as 1932 by Charlie Chaplin and Cab Calloway.

The Moonwalk

Although it has existed for a good while, Michael Jackson popularized it with the iconic Motown 25 performance of “Billie Jean”. After the success, Moonwalk became an indispensable part of his music videos and live stages.

Other than Michael Jackson, many artists and performers also love to include Moonwalk in their choreography because it is a showcase of flexibility, skill, and style that never fails to amaze the audience!

5. The Thriller Dance

Will there be a day where we don’t see “Thriller” by Michael Jackson being on the list of classics? 

This legendary music video was released in 1983 and immediately stirred a storm all over the world.

Thriller Dance from Michael Jackson

It wasn’t the first time Michael Jackson released a storytelling MV, though the creepy costumes and the perfect dance moves to come with them turned “Thriller” into the perfect Halloween song.

The Thriller dance is undeniably difficult to execute, yet don’t forget it is all about having fun and dancing as a group, for the crowd and the outfit make up a large part of this dance.

6. Shuffle Dance

Also called “the Melbourne Shuffle”, this dance came to life during the Melbourne rave craze in the 80s and, of course, followed the electronic music that was on top trend back then.

the Melbourne Shuffle dance

One would say the Shuffle dance is a version of the Running Man, except that the feet move in a T shape rather than in forward motions. It also features in-sync arm movements, which adds more liveliness to the performance.

In recent years, shuffling is still a thing, especially when people dance in a large crowd and want to be as synchronized as possible. Computer scientists from Brown University even named their security program after the Shuffle.

Check more: 12 Famous Shuffle Dancers

7. The Prep

The Prep is among the easy 80s dance moves, referring to the preparation before going to clubs and dance floors for college students. 

The Prep dance

It was also highly favored during its time, since they could look cool without sweating and ruining their looks.

The core of the Prep dance move is the rocking move, engaging your shoulders and waist. It looks playful and carefree while sparing room for you to incorporate any arm and hand movements you want to try.

Another important aspect of Prep is letting your body blend with the music and the rhythm. Any misstep will make it difficult for you to find the beat again!

8. The Wop

The Wop is a dance move accompanying and became popular after the song “Woppit” by B-fats, a rapper born in El Pasa Texas. It was later transferred to Harlem, New York. It’s safe to say “Woppit” was the peak of his career as well.

The Wop Dance

The dance was a huge favorite for the 80s youths with its ‘chill’ groove as they bent their knees a bit and leaned their right shoulders lower toward the floor. From then onward, they are free to swing their arms and even change their directions.

In 2011, the Wop was revived by a Flo Rida + J. Dash song called “Wop”.

9. The Sprinkler

As weird as it sounds, this move indeed imitates a garden sprinkler. A lot of people would agree that MTV 1987 was where the Sprinkler dance appeared for the first time.

The Sprinkler dance

The funny look as the dancer puts a hand on their nape and extends the other for the image of a sprinkler was perhaps the main reason for its popularity. Depending on the vibe of the music, the extended arm can roll in circles too!

However, the popularity of the Sprinkler didn’t last long after its golden era.

10. The Snake

The Snake is another dance move that was popularized by a certain artist. In this case, we have Axl Rose from the famous band Guns N’ Roses.

To mimic the motion of a snake, the dancer will keep their body still from their chest downward. The shoulders moving from one side to another along with the head truly resemble a snake!

After the golden era of Guns N’ Roses, the Snake Move witnessed a decline in popularity as well.

11. The Biz

The double release of “Biz Dance” & “Return of the Biz Dance” by Biz Markie in 1986 brought the move to the audience and extended its longevity at the same time.

The Biz dance

There are quite a lot of hops in the Biz, as hopping is the mechanic of the dance while the arms and the hips have grand and eye-catching motions.

Biz Markie turned the Biz move into a regular part of his live performances. For stronger effects, he tends to dance with his back facing the audience instead of the other way around.

12. The Kid ‘n Play

Derived from the Charleston dance of the 20s, the Kid ‘n Play is a dance move for a duo. The dancers will move back and forth while facing each other, their right hands linked as they hop around with their right legs up.

The Kid 'n Play dance

The name comes from the duo who brought the old dance back to the mainstream and inserted it into their performances. The most notable appearances of the dance are the “Gittin Funky” MV (1988) and the House Party movie’s scene.

Final Words

Of course, the list of the 80s dance moves wouldn’t end there, though I have chosen the most influential to include in our compilation. 

Have you been around when these dance moves were taking the world by storm? Or were you trying to learn any moves while browsing this article? 

Don’t forget to share your experience and contribution with your fellow dance lovers!

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