The Hustle is a catchall name for some disco dances which were extremely popular in the 1970s. Today it mostly refers to the unique partner dance done in ballrooms and nightclubs to disco music. It has some features in common with swing dance. Its basic steps are somewhat similar to the Discofox, which emerged at about the same time and is more familiar in various European countries. In the 1970s there was also a line dance called the Hustle. Modern partner hustle is sometimes referred to as New York Hustle. People still do this dance today.
Early Hustle was a 5-step count with no turns, created by Puerto Rican teenagers in late 1972 as a direct result of Puerto Rican Elders objecting to young teenagers doing a grinding slow dance known as the 500. Created in the South Bronx among Puerto Rican teens it was originally done at house parties, hooky gigs and basements club dances in the South Bronx. By 1974 it became known as "Spanish Hustle" and in 1975 the Fatback Band made a song with that name. It was also known as the "Latin Hustle"; and was a 6 step count to the beat of the music. Around 1976 it became known as the New York Hustle. Later, known as just the Hustle, when the dance became commercialized after the release of Saturday Night Fever in 1977. The early Pioneers who are also the Forefathers such as Willie (Marine Boy) Estrada, Willie Rivera, Billy Fajardo, Jose Cruz, Debra Benitez, Maggie Solis, Dante Wynn, Gladys Rodriguez, and many others, some of which were gang leaders from a gang called the Imperial Bachelors who used the Latin Hustle as a way to bring peace into a violent South Bronx by hosting Hustle parties at St. Mary's Recreation Center on 145th St. and St. Ann's Ave, in 1974. Those parties ended on October 2, 1974 after the killing of a young man by the name of Hime Rosendo AKA Rubberband, who was murdered over $1 by a 14 year old teenager. However it was the place that gave birth to he best Hustle Dancers in New York City, who would help spread the dance in nightclubs throughout New York city in late 1974. To learn more about the true history of the Hustle, pick up a book called, The Dancing Gangsters of the South Bronx on Amazon. Or by using the following link: www.thedancinggangsters.com
In 1975 music business entrepreneur, Marty Angelo created the first all hustle dance television show entitled, Disco Step-by-Step. Each one hour show featured top hustle dancers and two 10-minute hustle dance instruction segments that allowed viewers to learn how to hustle dance in the privacy of their own living rooms. One of the first shows featured a young Billy Fajardo and the Disco Dance Dimensions. Many of the shows video clips can be found on YouTube. Marty Angelo also created the Hustle Dancers Hall of Fame online list of dancers in 2000 that he eventually turned over to Ron Bess and Mark James. (See external links below.)
Van McCoy's song
A line dance which was called Hustle became an international dance craze in 1975 following Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony's song "The Hustle". Tipped off by DJ David Todd, McCoy sent his partner Charlie Kipps to the Adam's Apple discotheque of New York City's East Side. The forthcoming album was renamed Disco Baby and McCoy was named "Top Instrumental Artist" of 1975. When released, the song reached the top of the Billboard Pop Singles chart the week ending July 26, 1975.
Depiction in Saturday Night Fever
The 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever showed both the line and partner forms of hustle, as well as something referred to as the "tango hustle" (invented just for that film by the cast, according to the DVD commentary). Afterwards, different line dance and couple dance forms of the Hustle emerged. Although the huge popularity faded quickly as the hype that was created by the movie died down, the hustle has continued and is now a "social dance"; it has taken a place beside swing, cha-cha-cha, tango, rumba, bolero, nightclub two step and other partner dances in America.
New York Hustle
The couple dance form of hustle is usually called "New York Hustle" but frequently referred to by other names including "la hustle" or "latin hustle", it is very similar to the "Detroit hustle" but counted somewhat differently. It has some resemblance to, and steps in common with, swing and salsa dancing. As in the Latin dances, couples tend to move within a "spot" on the dance floor, as opposed to following a line of dance as in foxtrot, or as opposed to tracking within a slot as in West Coast Swing or LA Hustle.
One similarity between hustle and swing is that the lead takes the back-forward steps from his left foot; however it is not exactly a rock step (there is no rocking action because of speed) and if the dance is taught by counting, the steps happen at the beginning of the count – "and-one, two, three" rather than at the end of the count as in swing – "left, right, rock-step".
The dance is somewhat unique rhythmically because of the syncopation it is associated with. Most dances are danced with either 4/4 or 3/4 music with counting to match, with either a triple or duple base depending on the dance. The New York hustle is generally danced to 4/4 music but counted as a six beat pattern. “1 2 &a3 4 5 &a6” this is "L R lr L R lr" in the leader's pattern and natural opposite for the follower's pattern.
- Basic - similar to the basic from single-step swing, except rock step is at beginning
- Turn - 180° clockwise turn taken between 2 and 3 count, followed by a rock step
- Left Turn - 180° counterclockwise turn taken between 1 and 2 count, followed by a rock step
- Side Break - lead sends follow out still holding her left hand, then picks her back up
- Wheel - couple in double hand-hold, pumps arms like a bellows; couple as a whole rotates 180° clockwise
- Inside Turn or Loop Turn - similar to the loop turn from swing; follower twirls 360° counterclockwise
- Wrap - similar to wrap from the western swing but the footing is the same as a half turn for the hustle
- Two hand turn - uses 180° turn footing, before the step the lead takes the followers right hand in his, then proceeds as if completing a wrap but changes back to mirror two hand position half way through the step.
- Shell, Niel and John P. Nyemchek, Hustle, Nyemchek Dance Centre, Pearl River, New York, 1999. ISBN 1-929574-00-2
- Jones, Alan and Kantonen, Jussi (1999). Saturday Night Forever: The Story of Disco. Chicago, Illinois: A Cappella Books. ISBN 1-55652-411-0.
- Lustgarten, Karen (1978). The Complete Guide to Disco Dancing: The Easy Step-By-Step Way to Learn Today's Top Dances. United States: Warner Books.
- Blair, Skippy ("1998"). Dance Power, Own the Experience. ISBN 0-932980-24-4
- wmv from contains a quick show of the basic step variations of today's Hustle
- Michael & Betty showing a very smooth Hustle and Two men and one woman dancing Hustle, both from the Hustle Dance club
- Article: Secrets of a Hustle Dance Teacher
- Historic view of disco couple dancing
- Specifics about Hustle
- Disco Step-by-Step® Dance Television Show
- Hustle Dancers Hall of Fame
- Hustle dancing at public venues, competitions, and history
- Disco Dance Dimensions, Hustle dance team from the 1970's
- Latin Symbolics, Hustle dance team from the 1970's