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Streetswings Dance History Archives: Limbo
Party dancers doing the Liimbo on the beach. Circa 1960s
How Low can you go ? ... How Low can you go ? ... Under Stick dance or Limbo Dance history origins or origin title

               The Límbó (Limm-Bóe) is a novelty or eccentric dance and is also known as the "Under Stick Dance," where as the dancer moves to a Caribbean rhythm and dances under a stick, held up by a person on each end of the stick or a stand, without knocking or touching the stick. The word Limbo in the Roman Catholic tradition means a place where the souls of people go if they are not accepted into heaven but not bad enough to be sent to hell, not a very nice place to be and no one knows your there with no chance of escape.

    Originally, the people of Trinidad during this dance portrayed going down in the hold of a slave ship which carried

them off into slavery. No matter how they twist or turn squirmed or arched they would go deeper and deeper, some would make it, while some would not. Basically they were going into Limbo. (It was also used as a funeral dance and may be related to the African legba or legua dance).

    If the dancer is successful he must repeat this again and again with the bar being lowered another "Notch" each time. Each dancer does this until there is only one left standing who has not touched the bar, fallen down, laid on the floor or used his/her hands to keep balance. On-lookers as well as other dancers would clap and cheer (or egg on) and sing while the dancer tries to go under the stick. This dance was very popular at beach parties.

    In the mid 1960's a Fire limbo was done as a stage act as well as a few contests were thrown, but legal hazards made this cease publicly. The Fire Limbo is a normal Limbo with the exception of the stick, it is set on fire burning while the dancer performs, with occasionally the dancer having a lighted torch, blowing alcohol from the mouth to the torch for an explosive bursts of flame. The Fire Limbo was not done socially, and was performed by professionals and should not be tried at home for more than the obvious reasons. :)

The Caribbean Stick Dance is a fighting type dance, which may or may not be related.

Guiness World Book Records:
Regular Bar- 61/2" inches by Teresa Marquis of St. Lucia, West Indies. 4/15/1970.
Flaming Bar- 61/8" inches by Marlene Raymond, Toronto, 6/24/1973.


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

Trinidad n/a n/a Eccentric / Party

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers


Limbo Dancer - Nancy Hammond n/a 12/8/1947 - Life Magazine
Music preview clip

Music Titles

Video Clip not available at this time Banana Boat Limbo Song
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Limbo Calypso (Arrow) Video Clip not available at this time Mary Ann Limbo
Video Clip not available at this time Cachita
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Limbo Jazz (Coleman)
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Midnight Limbo (The Tides)
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Do The Limbo Dance (Hasselhoff) Video Clip not available at this time Limbo Like Me (Cardells)
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Second Line Limbo (The Whodads)
Video Clip not available at this time Fire Limbo (1965)
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Limbo Rock [mp3] (Checker 1963) original version Video Clip not available at this time Skokiaan
Video Clip not available at this time Kookie Limbo (Joe)
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Limbo Rock (Cross Fires) remix Video Clip not available at this time That Mexican Limbo (Mack Self 1962)
Video Clip not available at this time La La Limbo
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Limbo Rock - Enrique Guzman
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When The Saints Go Limbo In (Checker)
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Let's Limbo some more [CD] (Checker)
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Limbo Rock Twist (Ómar Ragnarsson)
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White Limbo (Australian Crawl)
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Limbo (Daddy Yankee) Video Clip not available at this time Man Smart, Woman Smarter Video Clip not available at this time Limbo: Limbo Soundtrack [CD]

Films / Movies


Ballets / Stage

1957 - Fire Down Below n/a n/a
The Limbo Line        
1997 - Zeus And Roxanne (Steve Gutenburg)            

Night Clubs



Palace Pigalle (Miami) n/a Bahamas
            Miami, Florida
            United States
            West Indies

Other Related Dances of the time...

beguine Chalypso Hula dance Swim  
Bossa Nova Chicken dance legba or legua Twist  
Bunny Hop Conga Merengue Watusi  
Calypso Fire Dance Mexican Hat Dance Zouk  
Carioca   Pachanga    

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Stretch Cox Troupe Tutte Lemkow n/a
Teresa Marquis Marlene Raymond  

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...



Date Published


n/a n/a n/a n/a

Musicians, Bands, Composers etc


Poets / Writers

Champs, The n/a Edward Kamau Brathwaite (poet)
Chubby Checker      
Crossfire's, The      
Edmundo Ros      
Kookie Joe      
Southern Tropical Harmony Steel Band      
The Cardells      
Trinidad Serenaders      

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Hula Hoop (Contests) WHAM-O Original Slip N Slide Tropical Limbo -
Milton Bradley's - Chicken Limbo Game Voodoo    
Sarongs Bongo    
Wham-O Limbo Game (1961)        


$ Limbo Stick Party Game (by Turn Up The Music, for Kids 5 and up)