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The Twist

Lifespan: 1958 - 1950s

Related: American music - popular music

Peppermint Lounge, photo unidentified

In 1958, Ballard wrote and recorded "The Twist," but it was only released on the B-side of a record. One year later, Chubby Checker debuted his own version of "The Twist" on Dick Clark's Philadelphia television show. It soon topped the charts and launched a dance craze that prompted the creation of other Twist songs, including "Twist and Shout" by the Isley Brothers and "Twistin' the Night Away" by Sam Cooke.


The twist was a rock and roll dance popular in the early 1960s and also the name of the song that originated it. It was the first major international rock and roll dance style in which the couples did not touch each other while dancing.

The song was written and originally released in 1959 by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters as a B-side, but failed to chart. The dance was first popularized by Chubby Checker in 1960 with a hit cover of "The Twist".

Faced with explaining to the youthful audience how to do the dance, a member of Checker's entourage came up with the following description:

"It's like putting out a cigarette with both feet, and wiping your bottom with a towel, to the beat of the music."

In 1961, at the height of the Twist craze, patrons at New York's hot Peppermint Lounge on West 45th Street were twisting to the music of the house band, a local group from Jersey, Joey Dee & the Starliters. Their house song "Peppermint Twist (Part 1)," became the number one song in the United States for three weeks in January 1962. Sailors and hookers, hipsters and weekending Yalies danced alongside New York's social elite, including the Duke of Windsor, at the legendary Peppermint Lounge. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twist [May 2005]

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