15 Essential 90s Dance Moves (And How to Pull Them Off)

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90s Dance Moves
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Last Updated on August 1, 2022

The 90s was undoubtedly a joyous time for dancing. Dance moves sprouted everywhere and became popular fast, conquering teenagers’ hearts and feet by the minute. The only way to dance, if you were cool, was to know these 15+ dance moves. 

Read on to find out if you were part of the “in crowd”, king or queen of the dance floor, or if your dancing prowess was only approved for the quiet, obscure corners!

#1. Vogue

Voguing might have come from the Harlem streets in the 1960s, but it only went mainstream thanks to Madonna when she featured it in her music video “Vogue” in 1990. Some people say that the name originated from the close resemblance to the models’ poses for fashion campaigns all over the glossy pages of Vogue magazine. 

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#2. The Running Man

The Running Man is an iconic hip-hop dance that is arguably one of the most popular dances of the 90s. It was originally made popular by MC Hammer but as the story goes, it might have originated in Africa. However, one of its most famous performances was in one of the Fresh Prince’s episodes when Will Smith did a wonderful rendition. After that, even kids that couldn’t dance for their lives knew how to do the Running man. 

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#3. The Sprinkler

Not all popular dance moves of the era were cool. Speaking of which, the sprinkler was beyond dorky and has seen been used in many movies as a signature awkward nerd move on the dance floor. The move seems to have been inspired by the very mundane movement of the sprinkler gardening tool and if rumors are to be believed it came to be in Australia as early as 1970, but only rose to fame in the 1990 movie House Party with Martin Lawrence. 

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#4. Kid ‘n play

We owe House Party many a dance move but who can forget the famous kick that Kid and Play do during the dance-off at the house party Kid snuck into? When the film debuted on the big screen, teens everywhere jumped on the hip-hop dance wagon. The kick went on to become a staple in all 90s-themed parties but it is actually not so easy to do!

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#5. Macarena

When a song became an overnight hit and it went on to sound absolutely everywhere, there was a huge chance that it popularized a dance move from its music video. Such was the case of the Macarena line dance that became impossible to avoid when the Macarena song became a hit and stayed at the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for over 14 weeks. It was literally everywhere.

You either grew to love it or hated it with your whole soul. It was originally featured in the 1993 Los del Río music video, and it went on to be featured everywhere, even on a One Direction video two decades later. Even today, it is usually one of those party starters that many people love at weddings and birthday parties.

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#6. Hammer Time

MC Hammer was all in when it came to hip-hop dancing. His signature “U can’t touch this” song from 1990 (that managed to be number one for over 21 weeks in the US), gave birth to one of the most easily recognized dances of the decade that became known as the Hammer Time. Try watching the video and not dancing to this classic! I double dare you!

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#7. Chacha Slide

A similar case to the Macarena, this dance hit went on to become a party starter that never fails. However its origin is quite unique, DJ Casper originally wrote “The Cha-Cha Slide” as a step aerobics routine for his nephew, who was working at the time as a personal trainer at a fitness club.

I mean what could be more 90s, right? The time of aerobic fitness and leotards! Afterward, Perry wrote and recorded his performance of the original version of the song, titled “Casper Slide Part 1” in January 1998. And as they say, the rest is history. 

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#8. Roger Rabbit

This dance move is named after the famous movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. Basically, your arms and legs flop around like a cartoon character to imitate Roger Rabbit himself. It became popular during the early 90s when the new jack swing was popular. It is a high-energy dance move that can rival the running man for its workout quality. 90s dancing was certainly not for the faint of heart or the unfit! 

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#9. Cabbage Patch

Speaking of easy 90s dance moves, the cabbage patch could save you from embarrassment on the dance floor. Even the lousiest of dancers could manage it since it was so simple. All you had to do was stick your arms out and roll them circularly, following the beat. Easy peasy! 

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#10. The Prep

This old-school dance move uses the beat as a base to move the hands to each corner with the music. I wouldn’t say this one is one of the best, but really, looking back can you honestly say most of these dance moves aren’t dorky?

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#11. The Humpty Dance

The Humpty Dance became known after Shock G, the frontman for the hip-hop group Digital Underground, popularized the song and it quickly became a hit. Again, give me a super hit song and I’ll show you a super hit dance move!

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#12. The Bogle

The Bogle resembles closely a Matrix stunt, making people bend as far back as they could to do this funny dance move. The dance is easy, but bending sufficiently far back is the real challenge. Those that could go real far usually garnered cheers from surrounding dancers!

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#13. The Heel Toe

The heel-toe is a classic dance move that requires a bit of coordination. Shoes that slide also make it quite easier to achieve this sleek trick!

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#14. The Tootsee Roll

As the song goes… “Cotton candy, sweet and low, let me see that tootsie roll.” When 69 boyz announced publicly that the Butterfly dance was done for and it was now the time of the Tootsee, no one would have guessed how popular it was going to become! 

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#15. Chicken Wing

Last but not least, the chicken wing should not be confused with the chicken dance, which is basically a silly funky chicken imitation. Sadly there was no cool how-to for this one, but you pull your arm up in the shape of a wing and fold it over your shoulder imitating a wing on the flight. Simple as that!

Which dance moves did you pull off? Please let us know in the comments.

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Lorena Lombardo is a fashion designer specialized in trend forecasting and fashion journalism. She studied at the UAL (University of London), ORT (Universidad ORT Uruguay), and taken various courses about traditional craftsmanship while living in Tokyo. Some of her favorite memories during the 90s include wearing bucket hats and trying to copy Rachel’s hairstyle. Her absolute favorite show was Buffy: the Vampire Slayer but she was also a huge fan of Clueless because of its amazing fashion choices. Her top track of the decade is currently disputed between How soon is Now? by the Smiths and Here with me by Dido. Both also happen to be the opening songs for two great 90s shows: Charmed and Roswell. Coincidence? I think not!