2.14.2006

THE WATUSI

Watusi dance

INTRODUCTION

Next to the Twist, the Watusi was the most popular dance of the Sixties. It was arguably an offshoot off the Twist, except, in this case, the feet remain planted, with the hips and arms doing all the twisting.

The dance's name, oddly enough, comes from the Batutsi tribe of Rwanda and Burundi in central Africa, who were the primary victims of the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. As is often the case with fad dances, the Watusi was probably named after a popular song, in this case, Ray Barreto's 1962 hit "El Watusi." Barreto was a Puerto Rican conga drummer who was inspired by Afro-Latin jazz, and, as a result, Watusi songs tend to reflect a similar Afro-Latin influence -- as did the music for a later dance craze, the Boogaloo, which also used "El Watusi" as its anthem.

Television's Batman would perform his own version of the Watusi, dubbed the Batusi, which consisted of rapid hip shakes accompanied by hand motions that use the first two fingers of each hand to mimic a mask (see it demonstrated here). These distinctive hand gestures would later show up in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction as part of John Travolta's dance routine during a twist contest.

STEP ONE

Watusi -- Step one

Stand with your legs apart. Put you weight on your right leg with your hip thrust to the right. Hold your hands as though you were holding a golf club and swing them right.

STEP TWO

Watusi -- Step two

Return your weight to both legs and bring your hands down to waist level.

STEP THREE

Watusi -- Step three

Put your weight on your left leg while thrusting your hip to your left. At the saem time, swing your hands to your left. Repeat. The watusi is done with a relative fast one and two, one and two rhythm -- you should be swinging your arms and switching your legs on every other beat.

SUGGESTED SONGS

1. "El Watusi," Ray Barreto
2. "The Watusi," The Vibrators
3. "Watusi Bongos," Preston Epss
4. "Watusi Zombie," Jan Davis
5. "Wild Watusi," Duane Eddy

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