Chubby Checker (real name, Ernest Evans) was born on October 3 1941 in Spring Gully, South Carolina, USA but grew up in South Philadelphia. His song The Twist which he recorded in June 1959 became a smash hit climbing to the Billboard No. 1 in the summer of 1960. In the fall of 1961, record history was created when The Twist re-entered the charts and became no. 1 again in January 1962. Combining its 1960 run with its 1961/1962 return, The Twist spent an amazing total of 9 months on the US best seller charts. The song helped to inspire a dance craze around the world.
In 1961, Chubby Checker came out with another song called Let's Twist Again. While this song did not make it to the Billboard No.1 (it peaked at no. 8) it had a very upbeat tempo and a catchy refrain which went like this - "Who's that flying up there? Is it a bird? (Chorus) No!, Is it a plane? (Chorus) No!, Is it a twister? (Chorus) Yes!" Not surprisingly, Let's Twist Again was Checker's first platinum album. The twist was an easy dance to learn where you basically swivel on the ball or flat of the feet. The simplicity of the dance meant that almost everyone (except those with hernia or back problems) could do it in convincing style and it became very popular not only with teenagers but with adults as well.
Chubby Checker also had another hit in 1962 called Limbo Rock which made it to the no. 2 on the charts. This song reignited a fad for another dance - the limbo. The limbo is a dance that originated in Trinidad. In this dance, the dancers move to a Caribbean rhythm, lean backwards and then dance under a pole (usually part of a high jump apparatus) without touching the pole. The dancer who touches the pole or who falls backwards is considered "out". When several dancers compete, they line up in single file and take turns to dance under the pole. The pole is gradually lowered and by a process of elimination; the last dancer to go under the pole is declared the champion.
The dances that were popular in Malaysia during the 1960s included the twist, limbo, off-beat cha cha and a go go (not to be confused with go go dancing). The off-beat cha cha was danced mainly to Chinese songs and was popular in the night clubs and cabarets. The a go go was a party dance and some of the hand movements are quite similar to the macarena which was a dance sensation in the 1990s . The song Macarena by Sol Del Rio which was released in 1996 is ranked at no.5 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Next week, we'll go retro and learn to dance the macarena again.