In Twist, the dancers turn the hips back and forth whereby the pelvis is tipped over easily forwards and the knees are bended loosely. Thigh and knee follow this rotation and one "twists" the back and forth turning lower part of the body against the torso, which is to be held quietly. The unencumbered foot can be strongly bent and pulled up to knee height.
Twist is danced in 4/4-time to spirited Rock'n'Roll music.
Past and Present
Up to now, Twist brought the last dancing wave to Europe, enjoyed by all generations. From 1961, it continued the Hulahoop wave of the previous year as Hulahoop without a hoop. The Twist motions in 4/4-time with a strong accentuation, are described very well in the hit "Hello Mister Twist" from 1962 (translated in the general sense of the text): "Who swings their hips to and fro? / Who puts his knees straight and across? / Who shows all he can dance / and doesn't even touch his babe? / You know exactly who it is, / only Mister Twist!".
Even in the twenties some kind of Twist existed, related to Shimmy and Charleston. In 1928 the dance reporter de Luca described the "metaphysics of Twist" in the magazine "Querschnitt": "It is a wound, weaved, turned affair". The "wringing out" of the body with a zigzag step of the feet and the towards one another from above. The non existing body touch of the couples later on were replaced by Swing. First in 1955 in the USA, Twist had a short rebirth with the dance "the Twister" as the successor of Charleston.
Mambo-Rock, an Afro-Cuban variation of Rock'n'Roll became popular only a short time later and required similar movements. "When dancing the Twist you turn the pelvis bent somewhat back in a semicircle to and fro. Thighs and knee follow this movement. You "twist" the lower part of the body against the upper torso, which remains unmoved." The fashion belonging to it were fleecy sweaters, tight trousers, beaky shoes and bee hive hairstyles.
In 1958, the black American Hank Ballard had great success with his song "Let's Twist Again" in the black charts, which still were strictly separated from the white charts. First the coloured Chubby Checker managed the leap into the white charts with a remake of the Ballard-title in 1960. Because of his great success he could create further Modern Dances: Hucklebuck (based on the Swing art of the thirties) and Limbo (an imitation of the folk dance from Trinidad). The hit "Twist and Shout" written by the Isley Brothers in 1962 became a big success of the Beatles, one year later.