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The Watusi

    The Watusi is indigenous to southern Central Africa. The Watusi was a very popular solo dance done in the early 1960's. In 1962, Ray Barretto released the album 'Charanga Moderna.' The track "El Watusi" reached the Top 20 pop chart in the United States in 1963 and went gold. Its popularity was near that of the Twist dance. In a 1964 TV Guide, Fred Astaire and Barry Chase do the Watusi.

    The Watusi was a real subtle Twist dance variation and was often mixed in with the Twist. The Watusi used the arms much more that the hips. The arms would raise and lower from one side to the other every two beats of music with a slight twist of the torso

rather than the hips. Feet were usually apart and would one leg and move it forward and backward to the beat of the music one leg and move it  forward and / or backwards to the beats of the music or occasionally pointing it to the side.

    What was leading the way for these dances you ask, the answer is "the Television and SAND." Surfing was becoming extremely popular with the young and sand was replacing the dance floors. This sand would prove the Death Kill to any of the dances that required spinning or traveling while promoting stationary dances such as the Twist, Swim, Surf, Surfer Stomp, Frug, Ska, Watusi,  and Monkey. These dancers could basically just stand in place on the beach and dance which lead the way for The Go-Go dancers. And now that Televisions were in most homes, people could watch shows like American Bandstand and learn these dances.

Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

Philadelphia 1961   1960's Fad / Dance Craze

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

n/a n/a

Watusi Titled Music Titles

1962 - El Watusi (Barretto) Shake It Watusi Rodeo (Guadalcanal)
1962 - Wah-Watusi (Orlons, Miracles) Shimmy Shimmy Watusi (Buttons) Watusi Strut (Deodato)
1962 - Wild Watusi (Eddy) Viva Watusi (Ray Barretto) Watusi Time (Vibrations)
1972 - Watusi - Egyptian March (Sun Ra) Watusi (the Vibrations) Watusi Trumpets (Claus Ogerman)
Bossa Nova Watusi Twist (King) Watusi '64 Watusi Walk (Cano)
Do The Watusi (Carter Bros.) Watusi '65 (Ray Barretto) Watusi with Lucy (The Dovells)
El Watusi (Ray Barretto) Watusi 99 (Hypnomen) Watusi Wedding (Hugo & Luigi)
I Do The Watusi (Howie Mandell) Watusi Beat (The Wolf Men) Watusi Zombie (Jan Davis)
Mambo Watusi (Bloch) Watusi Boogaloo - (Rosario) Werewolf Watusi (Bobby Pickett)
My Sweet Watusi (Mindy Carson) Watusi Drums (Brubeck)  
Really Taught Me To Watusi, I (Katrina & the Waves) Watusi Lucy (George Montgomery)  
Return of the Watusi (Olympics) Watusi One More Time (Shondells) ... Click for Fad Dance Music Titles List

Night Clubs



Batman A-Go-Go (CA) n/a Aadams Family
Club A-Go-Go       American Bandstand
Peppermint Lounge (NY)       Clay Cole Show
P.J's (CA)       Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Whiskey A-Go-Go (CA)       Hullabaloo
        Rate the Records
        Ready Steady Go!
        Toast of the Town (5/24/1964) #17.33

Films / Movies

Ballets / Stage

1950 - King Solomon's Mines (shows a Watusi Tribe) 1980 - Moulin Rouge; Watusi dans frenesie '80
1959 - Watusi      
1964 - Bikini Beach      
1964 - Get Yourself a College Girl      
1967 - Double Trouble (Mary Hughes)


Faster Pussycat! Kill! (Santana) 7/22/1950 - Colliers Magazine (article: Watusi Congo King)
Flashman (Watusi Music)      
Ghost in the Invisible Bikini      
Howie Mandell's N. American Watusi Tour      

Other Related Dances of the time...

Alligator, the Bunny Hop, the Finger Poppin' Locomotion, the Shag, the
Bend It , the Bus Stop, the Fly, the Madison, the Shampoo, the
Big Bea, the (Frug) Calypso Freddie, the Mashed Potato Shoulder Shake, the
Bird, the Cavern Stomp Frug, the Monkey Bird Slop, the
Block, the Chalypso Funky Chicken, the Monkey Shine Stroll, the
Boogaloo, the Ching-A-Ling Harlem Shuffle, the Monkey Stroll Surf, The (Frug)
Bop, the Clam, the Hitchhike, the Monkey Walk Surfer Stomp
Bossa Nova Clapping Dance Hucklebuck, the Mule, The Swim, The
Boston Monkey Continental Walk Hully-Gully Philly Walk Thunderbird, the (Frug)
Bristol Hop, the Dog, the Jerk, The Pony, the Twist, the
Bristol Stomp, the Duck, the
Krunch, the Rebel Walk Ubangi Stomp, the
Bug, the Elephant Walk, the Limbo Rock (Limbo) Shadow Walk  
Bump, the        

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Go-Go Dancers Barry Chase n/a
Fred Astaire Tura Santana, Haji and Lori Williams  
Mary Hughes Watusi Dancers, the (Toast of the Town)  
Ann Margaret    

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title Author Date Publisher
Discotheque dances Dick Blake 1965 -
$ Jazz Dance: The Story of American ... Stearns, Marshall 1994 Da Capo Press
Joe Bonomo's (Improve Your Dancing step by step) Joe Bonomo 1964
T.V. Guide Staff Writer   8/29-9/4/1964

Musicians/ Bands


Poets / Writers

Dave Brubeck Annette Funicello n/a
Duane Eddy      
Eddie Cano      
Freddy King      
Joey Dee      
Davis, Jan     1980 - Moulin Rouge; Watusi dans frenesie '80
Gene Bloch    
Michael Ray    
Miracles, the    
Neneh Cherry (w/ Jools Holland)    
Orlons, the    
Peter King    
Ray Barretto    
Vibrations, the    
Willie Rosario & His Orchestra    

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

Dance Fads Watusi Bull    
Dance Crazes Tall Tusi Tribesmen    
Discotheques Watusi (Location)    
Go-Go Dancers      

Basic Steps:

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