A Look at the Nation's Current Dance Craze

By Anthony R. Ashley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 22, 1996

In the 70s it was the Hustle. In the 80s it was the Electric Slide and the Forbidden Dance, the Lambada. Until this summer, the 90s did not have its own dance craze.

Enter Los Del Rio, the Bayside Boys and the "Macarena."

The catchy, bouncy Latin #1 dance hit rules Top 40 playlists across the country and has spawned the biggest and most popular dance craze of the decade. It is a welcome dance for some of us who love to dance, since the biggest music craze of the decade has been grunge, punk and rock.

The history of the Macarena dance craze is slightly less complex than quantum physics. Way back in 1993, the song was a moderate hit in Spain on the charts by pop-flamenco singers Los Del Rio, two 45-year-old Spanish music veterans.

Then, American music giant BMG, who bought the group's music label a year later, revamping the song with American-style marketing techniques, introduced it to cruise ships and dance clubs.

Next, RCA Records, which releases many Spanish records, licensed the song for the compilation CD "Macarena Club Cutz." The song quickly became a hit in Spain, then conquered Europe, Mexico, and finally, now, America. Its infiltration is not dissimilar to that of the African Killer Bees.

Yes, we in Tucson were doing the Macarena at the end of last summer, but the rest of the country, particularly the East Coast, has finally caught on. We also were wary of the killer bees.

Since its release in this country, the song has had dozens of remixes and remakes recorded. The one we are all familiar with is the Los Del Rio - Bayside Boys Mix.

The song's lyrics have a deeper history than the movement of the song. In the original recording, a young girl named Macarena (named for the virgin from Seville) finds out that her boyfriend, Vitorino, has joined the army against her will. So, she retaliates and releases the Spanish hussy within with a night on the town, carousing with hotties and giving the song its chorus ("Give your body joy, Macarena, that your body is to give joy and good things!"). It may help being a tad fluent in Spanish when it comes to understanding the song completely.

The Bayside Boys mix adds something crucial: the voice of Macarena. This naughty female vocal tells us all to "move with me, chant with me, and if you're good, I'll take you home with me."

By adding the voice and her adulterous shenanigans, the song becomes universally flirtatious. Macarena is no longer the sweet army widow, but just about any girl, from the burbs to the hood, who feels dissed buy a lover and uses night on the town as revenge. "Now what was I supposed to do? He was out of town, and his two friends, who are so fine."

The Bayside Boys, with their mix, want to seduce your mind and your feet, possibly at the same time.

As far as Americans are concerned, not everybody loves it, but I'm sure some are actually Macarena closet cases.

Tucson's Mike and Tyler from 96.1 KLPX like the dance because, "any dance Vin Scully can do, we like it."

The DJs believe that this is "the best dance of the 20th century, because any goober can do it," although Tyler says he can't do it too well because he's a, "geeky white guy with no rhythm."

Mike says he likes the song so much because, "a couple of old guys are makin' some money."

The dance has become such a phenomenon around the country that it wouldn't be a surprise if the American public saw the Clintons and the Gores doing it at the Democratic National Convention. Go Tipper!

So far this summer we have seen the results of the craze pop up in various ways. In July, at an Olympics champions' exhibition, the women's gymnastics team did the Macarena. In Seattle, the home of grunge, when the Mariners' designated hitter Edgar Martinez comes up to bat the song is played for him. MTV News reporter Kurt Loder with Biz Markie has taught viewers to be hip at their local discotheque. Even David Letterman attempts a nightly joke about the Macarena, from dreaming about being president and having the Secret Service do the dance to shooting those who enjoy the dance.

Locally, on a recent Tuesday night at the Outback, the first few bars of the "Macarena" were played. The result was people screaming, jumping up and down and the dance floor filled to capacity. There were a couple of moans and whines, but they sat their tired booties down, and let those who knew what time it was take charge.

This dance may be annoying to some of those who are anti-Macarena, but it's a dance that doesn't take a lot of brainpower or rhythm. The dance is not restrictive in age, either. With no foot movements, everyone from kindergartners to senior citizens are able to do it without being suggestive or injuring one's self. Just the other day, Hell-ga and I were at Albertson's and saw two little 7-year-old girls doing the dance in the the check-out line.

If Hollywood does not follow like it has in the past (remember the movie, "The Forbidden Dance"?), the Macarena will only be a dance and be a fixture in our society.

If a movie is in the works, Mike and Tyler say it won't work because the movie wouldn't have any "sex appeal."

Mike says this is "a single movie, a masturbation movie."

But if a movie is in the works, the duo would like to star, but need "to work on our accents."

They say that "Macarena: The Movie" will be a "story of hope and inspiration."

The Macarena, dance and song, says something about our culture - something so fun and silly, but also sexually suggestive and devious - that a throwaway song has become an all-ages-approved dance step and novelty hit. Like she says, "Macarena" is a one-night stand, but you won't want her to leave, or forget her name in the morning.