Apollo Theater, Bill Bailey, Billie Jean, Cab Calloway, Dancing, Dick Van Dyke, Elizabeth Fais, Marcel Marceau, Michael Jackson, Moon, Moonwalk, MTV, New York City, tap dancing, The Buzz
There’s a glorious full moon tonight … a marvelous night for a moonwalk. No, not on the surface of the moon … the dance move Michael Jackson made famous in 1983.
For anyone who’s too young to remember Michael Jackson, or is just unfamiliar with the illusive dance technique, the moonwalk — when done well — creates the illusion of the dancer sliding backwards while attempting to walk forward.
But just like the moon in tonight’s sky, the moonwalk was around long before Michael Jackson…
Who invented the Moonwalk?
Proof-positive recordings only go as far back as recording technology. I, however, wouldn’t be surprised if the moonwalk originated centuries before the first film recording. Anyway…
Here’s what we know for sure:
Cab Calloway, the famous jazz singer and bandleader, was recorded moonwalking back as 1932. Calloway is noted to have said that back in the 1930s, the dance move was called “The Buzz”.
Dick Van Dyke performed a moonwalk move in the 1950’s, in his “Mailing A Letter On A Windy Corner” comedy skit. Then in 1955, Bill Bailey, a well-known tap dancer, was recorded moonwalking in a performance at the Apollo Theater in New York. [image: Bill Bailey moonwalking, at the Apollo Theater, NYC, 1955]
Americans weren’t the only ones to incorporate the enigmatic dance move into their routines. The famous French mime, Marcel Marceau, used the moonwalk throughout his career, starting in the 1940s. In Marceau’s famous “Walking Against the Wind” routine, he moonwalked as he pretended to be pushed backwards by a gust of wind, as he tried to walk forward.
There were more contemporary performers, such as David Bowie, who performed the moonwalk before Michael Jackson busted the move on MTV in 1983. Still, there’s no question that Michael Jackson was the one who made the moonwalk famous for our generation, and a few more to come.
Michael Jackson Moonwalk: In Slow-Mo (MTV)
Pretty awesome. The first time I saw that move I thought, “I want to learn how do that!” And now, with the help of YouTube, we CAN!
Gloria Richard Author said:
This is so cool, Elizabeth. I must practice this until I can pull it off.
Shhhh. Top secret. Don’t tell anyone about my plans.
Thanks for the look back at Michael Jackson “when.” It breaks my heart that he was so talented and yet such a tortured soul.
If your stats show me bopping back to this post frequently, it will be because I (1) keep copying the how-to video URL and (2) forget where I stored it.
Elizabeth Fais said:
I will be practicing too! I don’t know WHY I need to be able to moonwalk like MJ, but I DO! Maybe we can perform a dance routine together one day? I promise not to tell anyone about our secret training. Shhhhh.
It is sad about Michael. He had everything and still wasn’t happy. I hope his children are better off than he in that department.
He was an astonishing dancer. Amazing.
Elizabeth Fais said:
He makes it look sooooooooo easy! Such talent. A dream to watch.