In the U.S. and Europe, discos with sound systems and flashing lights quickly became popular for entertainment between the 1960s and 1970s. Following this period, dancing in discos was predominantly a freestyle dance such as the ‘rock’ style exhibited by pop stars of the day like the Jackson 5. Dress code of the era as bellbottom pants and elevator shoes was also the popular trend at this time.
The Hustle takes its origin in the year 1973 where an unnamed, new type of “touch dance” was being made popular by females at a disco called The Grand Ballroom. The young men of the club quickly took notice and became interested in trying this new dance. It was a simple 6-count step that had a very basic form, which included an inside and an outside single turn.
Becoming more and more popular, dancers began to dance it, evolving the Hustle dance itself. On that time, Latin discotheque used this disco music to entertain guests as a bridge between live band sets. Types of “touch dance” had always been present in these clubs if the form of Mambo, Salsa, Cha Cha and Bolero. Known as the “Rope Hustle” or “Latin Hustle’, the dance was performed mostly side-by-side and incorporated many of the intricate turn patterns of the Mambo, even though it was considered a touch dance. The dance included hand changes with a rope-y feel to the arm movements and multiple turns.
Hustle Dance competition started to spring up across the U.S spreading the dance. Many professional performing arts dancers performed the Hustle. They started to contribute in styles such as long balletic arms to the movement. Around this time, the Hustle began to move towards a rotational movement rather than a slotted pattern. As dance contests increased, innovation began to characterize the dance and acrobatic and adagio movements were introduced into the dance.
In 1975, this new field of entertainment inspired nightclubs, hotels and television programs to hire young and innovative professionals to perform. With these new dance jobs opening up, the young dancers sought out new ways to excite the club audiences.
In the year 1970s, many different Hustle forms were taught, the 4-count Hustle, the Latin or Rope Hustle. The 3-count Hustle (&-1-2-3) was the most exciting form performed by NYC club dancers and competitors. Those dancers from the ‘70s paved the way for the rest of the Hustle community across the U.S. As the dance continued to evolve, it began to borrow from other dance styles including smooth ballroom, from which it took pivots and traveling movements and other partner dance forms such as swing and the Latin rhythm dances.
Hustle dance style is performed to the modern pop dance music. It is a fast, smooth dance with the lady spinning almost constantly. The man draws her close, then sends her away. Free rhythmic interpretation is characteristic of this dance.