How NOT to Dance the Hustle! [Funk Radio E96]

Today we give you a brief history and dance lesson on the Hustle craze which took the world by storm in 1977. But did you know it existed years before then, and in a few different forms?


Arguably the quintessential “disco fever” song, Van McCoy’s The Hustle set the world ablaze in a disco inferno when it was featured in Saturday Night Fever in 1977. What ensued was an age of sequin pants, flashing floor lights, and – cover your children’s eyes – white people trying to dance. If you wonder why your parents never talked about the 70s, it’s because an entire generation has attempted to erase from history this 2-3 year period of cultural embarrassment.

Luckily on Funk Radio, we ignore better judgment and dive head-first into the dark corners of history and bring back treasures in the form of fun facts and terrible puns.

Most of you may be under the impression that the Hustle dance was inspired by the song. In fact, it was the other way around. The dance actually took a number of different forms throughout its history, which goes back as far as 1972 (5 years before the fever hit). And while white people may have turned it into a nightmare, the dance originally developed from Latin inspirations by Puerto Ricans in the South Bronx. Over the next couple of years it garnered the name “Spanish Hustle” and saw some adjustments to the particular way it was danced.

Three years after its inception, its growing popularity was amplified by Fatback’s Spanish Hustle(1975). While Fatback is a well-known funk band, we were pleasantly surprised by how disco-y this song sounds considering the genre didn’t really take off for another 2 years. As more people became exposed to this popular dance, its name was broadened to the New York Hustle.

Then that fateful year arrived and Van McCoy’s The Hustle (1977) took the world by the hand and led it to the dance floor. We won’t go any further here, but in the episode Peter attempts to read the steps and dance it on air. It turns out the instructions are pretty much impossible, so it makes us wonder if we should respect those faithful disco dancers for getting it right. The jury’s still out on that one.

As a final note, in our podcast’s official description (on iTunes, for example), “How do I dance the Hustle?” is listed as the very first example of something you learn from this show. It took us 96 episodes to accomplish this, but we finally did it. So stop complaining and give us money.

Back to top button