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The Moonwalk

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Nothing to do with Neil Armstrong's lunar shenanigans, the Moonwalk is a dance move which was mastered and popularised by Michael Jackson.

Where Did it Originate?

No he didn't invent it. We can't definitively say who was the first to use the move but one argument suggests that Bill Bailey may have 'invented' the moonwalk in the 1950s (although it's fair to say there are other thoughts on the matter, some of which claim an even earlier origination for the moonwalk). Nevertheless, the dance move became popular in the 1980s where it was performed by breakdancers, usually on lino (linoleum1), with a backing track of Breakbeat and Electro.

An outstanding choreographer and dancer, Jackson adopted the move and on 16 May, 1983, brought it into the arena of popular culture when he busted it on stage while performing 'Billie Jean' on NBC's Motown 25 TV special. He went on to make it one of his signature moves, along with the multiple spin and the family jewel-crusher2.

How Do You Do It?

To achieve the 'sliding-gracefully-backwards-while-appearing-to-be-walking-forwards' effect of the move needs a lot of study and practice. Sure, we all think it's easy and may even try to demonstrate it to others on occasion, but this usually results in a whole gaggle of irritating people going Look, I've got it!, while they jerk across the room with all the grace of a funky chicken.

The Technique

  1. With all your weight on your left foot place the toe of your right foot next to it.

  2. Transfer your weight over to your right toe.

  3. Slide your left foot backwards, bringing the heel off the floor.

  4. Slide your right foot backwards, lowering the heel until flat3.

    • Shout Ooooooooo!

  5. Repeat steps one to four exchanging left foot for right and vice-versa.

    • Shout Aaaaaaaow!

  6. Repeat steps one to four.

    • Shout Huh, yeeah!

  7. Repeat steps one to four exchanging left foot for right and vice-versa.

  8. Shout Look, I've got it!

Congratulations - you're a funky chicken.

1Lino was used for its low-friction qualities - other breakdancing moves include the headspin which, as its name suggests, is more comfortably performed on lino than tarmac.2A family jewel-crusher is the move where you grab your genitalia in one hand, raise your other hand above your fist and scream aaaow!3At this point you should be in a position that mirrors step one.

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