Food Music Playlist #3: Dancing Dishes

I finally got the boot off my left foot, and although I am still not terribly good at walking, I have many exciting plans to do so repeatedly in the future. I really missed walking fast. I missed grocery shopping on a whim. I definitely missed dancing.

To celebrate, this playlist features five dances that, for reasons hard to fathom, allude to food. Aside from my typical claim–that bringing food into non-cooking artforms tends to introduce whimsy, humor, and playfulness–I really just don’t even know with most of these. Don’t overthink it. Just dance.

Mashed Potato

In 1962, mashed potatoes were a thing, y’all. Dee Dee Sharp will tell you about it:

The Mashed Potato was so fun that she followed it up with “Gravy” (better known to my generation via Sister Act). James Brown sang a song about mashed potatoes. The Contours sang about mashed potatoes in “Do You Love Me,” later immortalized by Dirty Dancing. It is called out by another major dance craze, the Watusi, in which The Orlons (who, like Dee Dee Sharp, hailed from Philadelphia) claimed that “nothing would happen” when you did the mashed potato. (As opposed to doing the Watusi, which would supposedly cause spectators to fall in love. Fair warning.)


Merengue may or may not derive its name from the fluffy dessert, but I imagine that it held many dessert-like connotations for twentieth century Americans. When Latin American dance styles hit mainstream U.S.  music channels and became dance crazes around the 1960s, the attraction seemed to be rooted in connotations of exoticness, indulgence, playfulness. Check out the merengue scene in Dirty Dancing (helpfully dubbed in Spanish):

That stepping is. . . no kind of merenge, it’s just a bunch of affluent white folks having a good time. You don’t really need to know what Penny is calling to get the idea: have fun, be loose, be sexy. Be Latin.

I know, it’s gross appropriation. But actual merengue is actually a culturally important dance for the Dominican Republic, and the music is awesome, and midcentury America can’t ruin that for everyone.

The Turkey Trot

I feel a little rude referring to the titular turkey as food when this dance is clearly meant to resemble the living bird’s ungainly movement, but. . . sorry-not-sorry. The turkey trot was one of several “animal dances” popular in the 1920s. Silly as it sounds, dancing this way was serious business: according to Wikipedia, the turkey trot was (a) denounced by the Vatican as demoralizing, (b) considered “disorderly conduct” by the law, and (c) a terminable offense.

I’m not 100% certain that this is a turkey trot, despite the label, but it sounds close enough to the description: cheek to cheek; lots of hopping; very exciting.

The Ketchup Song

Just so we’re clear, this is not a song about ketchup. The band is called Las Ketchup, and the English version of the song is called “The Ketchup Song.” And apparently these ladies and their dance sequence became a global sensation hot on the heels of the “Macarena.” I don’t remember the song–I would have been in college at the time–but the movements (criss-crossing hands, little fists, little kicks) look very familiar. Dance club, maybe?

It’s catchy, though. Ketchy.

Chicken Noodle Soup

This jam by Webstar with its associated movement is a more recent phenomenon, and since I mostly live under a rock, I’ll only embarrass myself by trying to explain its provenance or appeal. Well, scratch that, the appeal is explicable: it’s catchy as hell, non sequitur as it is. Chicken Noodle Soup. . . with a soda on the side!

Let’s get it let’s get it let’s get it let’s get it

The takeaway from this week’s music playlist is that delicious, delicious snacks inspire dance crazes across time, regions, and cultures. Also, it’s Friday. Have an excellent weekend.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s