Latin Hustle

Hustle (dance)

The Hustle is a catchall name for several disco dances which were extremely popular in the 1970s. Today it mostly refers to a unique partner dance done in ballrooms and nightclubs. It has some features in common with swing dance. In the 1970s there was also a line dance called the Hustle--which is regaining popularity as people throw '70s theme parties or schools have '70s dance performances. Modern partner hustle is sometimes referred to as New York Hustle.


Based on older dances such as the mambo, the Hustle originated in Hispanic communities in New York City and Florida in the 1970s. This was originally a line dance with a Salsa-like foot rhythm, that after some fusion with swing and eventual shortening of the count to "&1 2 3", became the present "New York" Hustle.

Van McCoy's song

A line dance which was called Hustle became an international dance craze in 1975 following Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony's song, "The Hustle". Tipped off by DJ David Todd, McCoy sent his partner Charlie Kipps to the Adam's Apple discotheque of New York City's East Side. The forthcoming album was renamed Disco Baby and McCoy was named "Top Instrumental Artist" of 1975. (Jones and Kantonen, 1999). When released, the song reached the top of the Billboard Pop Singles chart the week ending July 26, 1975.

Line dance

There was also a popular line dance known as Soul City Walking, which was danced to the eponymous record by Archie Bell. In the Soul City Walk dancers dance backwards, then forward, then to the right and then to the left. They jump forward and backward, and click their heels. They do some quick tap steps and then turn to the left to face a new wall. The Soul City Walk was the best known and most frequently performed line dance in the discos of the '70s. This dance was also referred to as the "LA Bus Stop Hustle." A hustle line dance instructional video is available. (See external links below.)

This line dance was a version of Merengue with steps to rotate the dance direction orientation to another wall. The most popular current version (1980–2008) is called "The Electric Slide".

Depicted in Saturday Night Fever

The 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever showed both the line and partner forms of hustle, as well as something referred to as the "tango hustle" (invented just for that film by the cast, according to the DVD commentary). Afterwards, different line dance and couple dance forms of the Hustle emerged, and some hustle dancers seemed to think at the time that hustle was the only partner dance in existence . "People used to dance rumba," they would say. But the huge popularity faded quickly as the hype that was created by the movie died down. But hustle has continued and is now a "ballroom dance;" it has taken a place besides swing, cha-cha-cha, tango, rumba, bolero, nightclub two step and other partner dances in America .

New York Hustle

The couple dance form of hustle is usually called New York Hustle or Latin Hustle. It has some resemblance to, and steps in common with, swing and salsa dancing. As in the Latin dances, couples tend to move within a "spot" on the dance floor, as opposed to following a line of dance as in foxtrot, or as opposed to tracking within a slot as in West Coast Swing or LA Hustle.

One similarity between hustle and swing is that the lead takes the rock step on his left foot; however, if the dance is taught by counting, the rock step happens at the beginning of the count – "and-one, two, three" rather than at the end of the count as in swing – "left, right, rock-step". This can confuse beginner leads who are used to triple-step swing, because the lead rock-steps on the right side of his "track" in the swing basic but on the left side in the hustle basic.

One difference between hustle and most other partner dances is that clockwise movements, for both the individual and the couple, predominate. Counter-clockwise movements predominate in most ballroom dances.

Common steps

  • Basic - similar to the basic from single-step swing, except rock step is at beginning
  • Turn - 180° clockwise turn taken between 2 and 3 count, followed by a rock step
  • Left Turn - 180° counterclockwise turn taken between 1 and 2 count, followed by a rock step
  • Side Break - lead sends follow out still holding her left hand, then picks her back up
  • Wheel - couple in double hand-hold pumps arms like a bellows; couple as a whole rotates 180° clockwise
  • Inside Turn or Loop Turn - similar to the loop turn from swing; follower twirls 360° counterclockwise


  • Jones, Alan and Kantonen, Jussi (1999). Saturday Night Forever: The Story of Disco. Chicago, Illinois: A Cappella Books. ISBN 1-55652-411-0.
  • Lustgarten, Karen (1978). The Complete Guide to Disco Dancing: The Easy Step-By-Step Way to Learn Today's Top Dances. United States: Warner Books.

Video clips

External links

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