Watusi (dance)

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The Watusi, as advertised in a bar window. Watusi.jpg
The Watusi, as advertised in a bar window.

The Watusi /wɑːtsi/ is a solo dance that enjoyed brief popularity during the early 1960s. [1] It was one of the most popular dance crazes of the 1960s in the United States. [2] "Watusi" is a former name for the Tutsi people of Africa, whose traditions include spectacular dances. [3] [4] The naming of the American dance may have been inspired, in particular, by a scene in the 1950 film King Solomon's Mines which featured Tutsi dancers, or by its sequel Watusi.

A solo dance is danced by an individual dancing alone, as opposed to couples dancing together but independently of others dancing at the same time, if any, and as opposed to groups of people dancing simultaneously in a coordinated manner. Solo dancers are usually the best dancers in a group or dance school. Most solo dancers start after about 6–7 years of dance or sooner. Most soloists are company kids of their dance school. They are usually in more than one dance.

Novelty and fad dances humorous type of dance, often enjoying short burst of popularity

Novelty and fad dances are dances which are typically characterized by a short burst of popularity. Some of them may get longer-lasting life. They are also called dance fads or dance crazes.

Tutsi ethnic group inhabiting the African Great Lakes region

The Tutsi, or Abatutsi, are a social class or ethnic group of the African Great Lakes region. Historically, they were often referred to as the Watutsi, Watusi, Wahuma, Wahima or the Wahinda. The Tutsi form a subgroup of the Banyarwanda and the Barundi people, who reside primarily in Rwanda and Burundi, but with significant populations also found in Uganda and Tanzania.



The Orlons, a vocal quartet from Philadelphia, had the biggest hit of their career as recording artists with their recording of "The Wah-Watusi" (Cameo 218), which debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart on June 9, 1962 and remained on the Hot 100 for 14 weeks; it peaked at #2 and held the position for two weeks. On the R&B chart, the single peaked at #5. [5]

The Orlons are an American R&B group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that formed in 1960. The group won gold discs for three of their singles.

Philadelphia Largest city in Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city, with a 2018 census-estimated population of 1,584,138. Since 1854, the city has been coterminous with Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.

"The Wah-Watusi" is a song written by Kal Mann and Dave Appell and performed by The Orlons. It reached #2 on the U.S. pop chart behind Bobby Vinton's "Roses Are Red ", and #5 on the U.S. R&B chart in 1962. It was featured on their 1962 album The Wah-Watusi.

This was not the only version of the song to hit the charts. On January 18, 1963, Chubby Checker released his single version of "The Wah-Watusi" (B-side of Cameo 221). Later that year, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles also recorded their own version. Popular covers of the song included Annette Funicello, and The Isley Brothers. The Vibrations had previously released an R&B single in 1961 called "The Watusi" (US #25).

Chubby Checker American singer

Chubby Checker is an American rock 'n roll singer and dancer. He is widely known for popularising many dance styles including the twist dance style, with his 1960 hit cover of Hank Ballard & The Midnighters' R&B hit "The Twist" and the Pony with hit "Pony Time". In September 2008, "The Twist" topped Billboard's list of the most popular singles to have appeared in the Hot 100 since its debut in 1958, an honor it maintained for an August 2013 update of the list. He also popularized the "Limbo Rock" and its trademark limbo dance, as well as various dance styles such as The Fly.

Annette Funicello actress and singer

Annette Joanne Funicello was an American actress and singer. Funicello began her professional career as a child performer at the age of twelve. She rose to prominence as one of the most popular Mouseketeers on the original Mickey Mouse Club. As a teenager, she transitioned to a successful career as a singer with the pop singles "O Dio Mio", "Tall Paul" and "Pineapple Princess", as well as establishing herself as a film actress, popularizing the successful "Beach Party" genre alongside co-star Frankie Avalon during the mid-1960s.

The Isley Brothers American musical group

The Isley Brothers are an American musical group originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, that started as a vocal trio consisting of brothers O'Kelly Isley Jr., Rudolph Isley and Ronald Isley. The group has been cited as having enjoyed one of the "longest, most influential, and most diverse careers in the pantheon of popular music".

Also in 1963, Puerto Rican jazz musician Ray Barretto had his first hit with a song called "El Watusi", and - although he didn't invent the dancing style - he came to be typecast as connected to the style. [6] Barretto's recording, "El Watusi" (Tico 419), debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart on April 27, 1963 and remained on the Hot 100 for 9 weeks; it peaked at #17 for 9 weeks. The Ventures covered Barretto's version on their 1965 album Let's Go! .

Ray Barretto

Ray Barretto was a Puerto Rican conga drummer and bandleader born in New York. Throughout his career as a percussionist, he played a wide variety of Latin music styles, as well as Latin jazz. His first hit, "El Watusi", was recorded by his Charanga Moderna in 1962, becoming the most successful pachanga song in the United States. In the late 1960s, Barretto became one of the leading exponents of boogaloo and what would later be known as salsa. Nonetheless, many of Barretto's recordings would remain rooted in more traditional genres such as son cubano. A master of the descarga, Barretto was a long-time member of the Fania All-Stars. His success continued into the 1970s with songs such as "Cocinando" and "Indestructible". His last album for Fania Records, Soy dichoso, was released in 1990. He then formed the New World Spirit jazz ensemble and continued to tour and record until his death in 2006.

The Ventures band

The Ventures are an American instrumental rock band, formed in 1958 in Tacoma, Washington, by Don Wilson and Bob Bogle. The band, a quartet for most of its existence, helped to popularize the electric guitar in the United States and across the world during the 1960s. While their popularity in the United States waned in the 1970s, the group remains especially revered in Japan, where they tour regularly to this day. The classic lineup of the band consisted of Wilson, Bogle, Nokie Edwards, and Mel Taylor (drums).

The "Monkey Watusi" is mentioned in the 1964 single "Hey Harmonica Man" by Stevie Wonder. "The Watusi", along with "The Twist", is mentioned in the fragmentary "lyrics" of the Beatles' sound collage "Revolution 9". "The Watusi" is also mentioned frequently in Patti Smith's song "Horses/Land of a Thousand Dances/La Mer(de)" on her 1975 album Horses .

Stevie Wonder American musician and record producer

Stevland Hardaway Morris, better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. A prominent figure in popular music, he is one of the most successful musicians of the 20th century. Wonder's "classic period", between 1972 and 1977, is noted for his funky keyboard style, personal control of production, and series of songs integrated with one another to make a concept album.

The Beatles English rock band

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With a line-up comprising John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they are regarded as the most influential band of all time. The group were integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form, and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. Their sound was rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, but they incorporated elements of classical music, traditional pop, and used unconventional and innovative recording techniques. In later years they experimented with a number of musical styles, ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As they continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they came to be seen as embodying the era's socio-cultural movements.

"Revolution 9" is a sound collage that appeared on the Beatles' 1968 eponymous release. The composition, credited to Lennon–McCartney, was created primarily by John Lennon with assistance from George Harrison and Yoko Ono. Lennon said he was trying to paint a picture of a revolution using sound. The composition was influenced by the avant-garde style of Ono as well as the musique concrète works of composers such as Edgard Varèse and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

"The Watusi" was one of the inspirations for the Exodus song "The Toxic Waltz", from their 1989 album Fabulous Disaster . [7]

Exodus (American band) American thrash metal band

Exodus is an American thrash metal band formed in 1979 in Richmond, California. They have gone through numerous lineup changes, two extended hiatuses, and the deaths of two former band members. Their current lineup consists of guitarists Gary Holt and Lee Altus, bassist Jack Gibson, drummer Tom Hunting, and lead vocalist Steve "Zetro" Souza. Hunting is one of the original members, and departed from Exodus twice, in 1989 and 2004, but rejoined in 2007. Holt joined the band about two years after its formation, and is the only member of Exodus to appear on all their releases.

"The Toxic Waltz" is a song by the American thrash metal band Exodus, taken from their third studio album Fabulous Disaster. Although the song was never released as a single, it is one of Exodus' most famous songs and has held a regular position on their concert setlist since 1989.

<i>Fabulous Disaster</i> 1989 studio album by Exodus

Fabulous Disaster is the third studio album by Exodus. It was released on January 30, 1989 on the UK label Music for Nations, while the US version was released on Combat/Relativity Records. In 1999, Century Media remastered and reissued the band's first three albums in Europe only.

The dance was central to "We Love You Miss Pringle." That 26th episode of the second season of the My Favorite Martian television series first aired March 28, 1965. It was also referenced in the 1967 movie "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" in a light-hearted conversation, between Matt Drayton and John Prentice, about black teenagers dancing.


In the classic Watusi, the dancer is almost stationary with knees slightly bent, although may move forward and back by one or two small rhythmic paces. The arms, with palms flat in line, are held almost straight, alternately flail up and down in the vertical. The head is kept in line with the upper torso but may bob slightly to accentuate the arm flailing. The dance, which became popular in the American surf/beach sub-culture of the 1960s, may be enhanced if one imagines that one's feet are on sand.

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  1. Oxford English Dictionary definition of "Watusi"
  2. Le Watusi 1964 - années 60 °°°TEPPAZ AND CO°°° Archived 2009-03-22 at the Wayback Machine
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1bIp_W_4LM
  4. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 444.
  5. "Grammy-winning Latin-jazz drummer Ray Barretto dies at 76", Houston Chronicle , 17 February 2006
  6. "Steve "Zetro" Souza of Exodus and Hatriot". Songfacts.com. June 19, 2014. Retrieved September 19, 2015.