The “Macarena” song and dance grew into an incredibly popular fad. The song and subsequently the Macarena dance, spread like wildfire throughout the mid-1990s, before quickly falling out of fashion and vanishing from popular culture. The song and dance remain an often-referenced piece of 1990’s pop-culture, mentioned in TV shows, movies, books, and even by a United States presidential candidate.
The Origin of the Macarena Song and Dance
In 1992, the band, Los Del Rio, a Spanish flamenco pop duo, spotted a beautiful flamenco dancer named Diana Patricia Cubillan Herrera at a private party held by the Venezuelan empresario in Venezuela. Her beauty and grace inspired them to write a song. The title of the song, Macarena, comes from a neighborhood in Spain and is also a popular girls name (meaning “Mother of God”). Originally Los Del Rio was to name the song “Magdalena” but changed the name when they discovered another song by that name had already been released. The song told of a woman, named Macarena, who was upset because her boyfriend joined the army. In retaliation, she goes out on to the town to dance with other soldiers. The Macarena was released in Spain in 1993 and became Los Del Rio’s first hit song since 1962.
Several versions of the song were remixed through the mid-1990’s and accompanying videos created. Each version released was more popular than the one prior. In 1996, a video was released that featured male and female dancers in the background doing the Macarena dance. In another black and white video released shortly thereafter, the dancers were more prominent and viewers could easily mimic the dance moves that they demonstrated.
The Macarena moves to America
In 1994, American label BMG bought the Spanish label and set out to make the Macarena a cultural hit in America. BMG marketed an English version of the song, recorded by the Bayside Boys, to dance clubs, cruise ships, and other entertainment venues and released it as a single in 1995. The Bayside Boys version of the song sold well in United States. It stayed in the US Top 100 for sixty weeks and reached and stayed #1 on the charts for a record setting 14 weeks.
Sales of the Macarena song exploded further in 1996 when the Macarena dance craze hit America and by the end of the year it had sold over four millions copies. People danced to the Macarena at weddings, office parties, cruise ships, clubs, school playgrounds, and everywhere else where dancing was permitted. The U.S. women’s gymnastic team did it at the Olympics. Presidential candidate Al Gore did it on TV. By the end of the year, “Macarena” had reached the number one place on the charts in at least nine countries, including Australia, Belgium, and the United States.
How to perform the Macarena
The Macarena dance is a simple dance that consists of a variety of hand and hip movements similar to a line dance. Each cycle of the dance ends with a ninety degree rotation of the body, and the dance is then repeated.
To perform the dance, there are eight basic steps to learn. The dance is performed in time with the chorus portion of the song, and is as follows:
Beats 1 Through 4
Extend your left arm straight out at shoulder level while turning your palm upward. Repeat with your right arm on beat two. Turn your left palm downward as your arm remains extended on beat three, and repeat with your right arm on beat four.
Beats 5 Through 8
Cross your left hand over so that it rests palm down on your right upper arm. Repeat with your right hand by crossing it over to your left arm. On beat seven, place your left hand behind your head, and repeat with your right hand on beat eight.
Beats 9 Through 12
Move your left hand across your body so that it rests on the front part of your right hip. Repeat with your right hand by crossing it over to your left hip. On beat 11, place your left hand onto your left hip or buttocks. Repeat on beat 12 by moving your right hand to your right hip or buttocks.
Beats 13 Through 16
Rotate your hips and buttocks to the left, then the right and back to the left again on beats 13 through 15. On the last beat of the sequence, turn (or jump) 90 degrees in a counter clockwise direction. Start over and repeat the entire sequence for as many times as you’d like while the song is playing.