Let’s Do ‘The Twist’ Into the History of ‘American Bandstand’

AMERICAN BANDSTAND, (aka BANDSTAND), host Dick Clark, (1956, when the show was still only locally broadcast in Philadelphia), 1952-89.
Everett Collection

Let’s do the Twist! Everyone knows this iconic dance move that originated in the 1950s, most notably on American Bandstand. Television and rock ‘n’ roll music were on the rise in the ’50s, so what better to do than combine them? Dick Clark hosted American Bandstand, which premiered on August 5, 1957 nationwide after doing well locally for years, featuring teenagers dancing to popular music.

AMERICAN BANDSTAND, Dick Clark (holding record), (1950s), 1952-1989

Everett Collection

The show actually began as Bandstand in 1952 on Philadelphia’s WFIL-TV, hosted first by radio personality Bob Horn. Dick Clark took over and helped to make it the iconic show it became. He rallied for the show to appear on ABC when they wanted suggestions for a show to put in the 3:30 pm time slot and it was picked up in August of ’57 and renamed American Bandstand. Teens of the time would race home from school to see what the latest fashion and hair trends were, dance to the biggest hits, and learn what the hottest records were with a segment called “Rate-a-Record” that happened to rated by teenage peers in the studio audience.

AMERICAN BANDSTAND, Dick Clark, (1952-1989).

Everett Collection

American Bandstand ran as a live national broadcast until 1963 and then moved to Los Angeles as a weekly taped program, also featuring Clark as the host. It ran for 24 years ending in 1989, making it one of those pop culture phenomenons that fans love to reminisce about. It catapulted Clark to fame and inspired other shows including Soul Train, which focused on soul music instead of traditional rock and roll.

Not only did it catapult Clark to stardom, it was the launching pad of many bands many still love and remember. Many stars like Sonny & Cher, Neil Diamond, Michael Jackson/Jackson 5, and Madonna to name a few made their very first appearance on the show.

AMERICAN BANDSTAND, from left: Dick Clark, Chubby Checker. Chubby Checker is giving Dick Clark a dance lesson, circa 1961

Everett Collection

It also sparked a lot of dance crazes along the way. No one is exactly sure how the dance move The Twist originated but Chubby Checker sure made it popular on American Bandstand. He created his own version of “The Twist” and sang and danced to it in the summer of 1960 and it quickly hit No. 1 on the charts and became the latest dance craze. Other dance moves you may remember are the Mashed Potato, The Bop, The Stroll, The Watusi and so many more!

Did you watch American Bandstand? What is your favorite dance move?

Collecting the 1950s
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Collecting the 1950s

Aug. 2022

For fans of the Nifty Fifties enjoy this treasure trove of ’50s memorabilia.

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