Hustle originated in the 1970’s disco era and although the white suits and gold chains have long since faded away, the dance has stayed, giving us the fusion of Swing and disco. In its simplest form it is a dance where even a moderately skilled leader can lead virtually anyone right away. Largely because of its tremendous adaptability to social dance music the Hustle is still one of the most popular nightclub dances across North America today.
The Hustle gives us a fun, exciting dance and arises from the fusion of Swing and Disco music.
- Hustle Basics–Concentrate on turns and position changes
- Open Breaks–Teach fingertip lead & follow, arm control
- Footwork–Work on weight changes in rotation, closing feet for forward momentum
- Connections–Prepare for unity of movement & control of body
- Hustle Motion & Accents–Stress use of beats to steps, body to music
- Various Timings–Use straight & syncopated timing to adjust to different music tempos
- Compare/Contrast–East Coast Swing, Salsa, West Coast Swing, Cha Cha, Merengue,
Discotheques with high quality sound systems, and flashing lights became a popular form of entertainment in Europe and North America in the late 1960’s and throughout the 70’s. In the early 1970’s a new dance craze began to become popular on the crowded dance floors of New York.
A hugely popular line dance known simply as “The Hustle” was danced extensively at this time but probably the most dramatic change to the dance scene of the era were the Hustle partnership dances that began to evolve from the disco music. This “Touch Disco” dancing marked a return to popular dances where couples danced touching each other and it resulted in a host of partnership Hustle dance forms – Latin Hustle, Double Hustle, New York Hustle, Swing Hustle, Tango Hustle and even Hustle-Cha.
Examples of these original dances can be seen in the movie Saturday Night Fever with which the terms “disco” and “hustle” have been inextricably linked. Touch Disco was such a huge phenomenon that some Arthur Murray dance studios changed their names formally to “Arthur Murray Disco Dance School” during that time.
By 1980 most of the Hustle variants eventually died off as the disco phenomenon petered out. The form of Hustle that survived all through the subsequent years and is danced widely today began as the “Swing Hustle”. It uses the same basic patterning found in the single step (Jive) version of the East Coast Swing but using an even timing.
Disco style music is normally written in 2/4 or 4/4 time with a strong bass beat. The melody and beat are based on rhythm and blues and the accent on each of the bass beats makes the music hard to resist. It dances most comfortably at the approximate tempo of 28 to 30 bpm (bars per minute).
This style of music is often played at social dance functions making Hustle a practical choice for someone wanting to be a good social dancer.
In its simplest form it is a dance in which you can lead virtually anyone right away. Turns, spins and wraps are primary components of the Hustle. It shares many of its leads and basic patterning with Swing and Salsa with a similar loose arm connection between the partners.
A major defining feature of advanced Hustle is its progressive “rock step” in which the feet close (or nearly so) or bracing the back foot very strongly and staying split weight in order to maintain its seemingly effortless forward momentum. This is especially important at the fast speed it is danced. Without this constant forward momentum for the lady and split weight anchoring for the man this dance becomes backward weighted and labourous. The lady must move forward in this manner constantly as the man is looking to channel her momentum to produce the lead. [This is unique to Hustle and is opposite the West Coast Swing, for example, in which she is expected to anchor back and wait to be moved forward.] The more accomplished dancers will use syncopated timing, foot fakes and other timing changes to accent the music and add to the spontaneity.
Hustle continues to be a very practical social dance and a fun way to dance with a partner to many upbeat modern pieces of music. The popularity of modern and “retro” disco styled music with a steady even beat keeps this dance fresh, exciting and full of energy. It is fun, fast paced and full of interesting wraps, turns and sudden changes in direction.
Hustle songs and artists include:
- I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
- Last Dance – Donna Summer
- Nobody – Ne-Yo
- Mary J. Blige – A Night to Remember
- Daft Punk – Lose Yourself to Dance
- Classic – MKTO