Let’s Dance and SBDC SaddleBrooke Ballroom Dance Clubs

It’s the Hustle

Steve Holdener

The Hustle is a fun partner dance created in the New York Bronx in the latter part of 1972 and was primarily danced among the Puerto Rican people at house parties, basement club dances and hooky gigs in the South Bronx. In 1974 it was also known as the Spanish Hustle or Latin Hustle; however, by 1976 it became known as the New York Hustle and later it was just known as the Hustle.

Nowadays the Hustle mostly refers to a unique partner dance done in ballrooms and nightclubs to disco music. Although 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.

The Hustle really became more famous and known worldwide with the commercial success of Saturday Night Fever in 1977, which was a fictional story about an Italian dancer named Tony Manero from Queens who was not actually a dancer at all but a very popular kid from the neighborhood.

Early pioneers of the Spanish Hustle were dancers from the Latin Symbolics Dance Company founded by George Vascones, who also served as president until his death in 1993. The dance company was based at 333 East 149th Street in the South Bronx. It was at the Latin Symbolics Studio where Tony Manero, who John Travolta played in the movie Saturday Night Fever, was taught to do the original Spanish Hustle, by the Latin Symbolics Dance Team, for a special showcase Tony was going to be doing in Las Vegas in 1977 after gaining popularity after the release of 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 ballroom dance and has taken a place beside swing, cha-cha, tango, rumba, bolero, nightclub two step and other partner dances in America.

Our next first Thursday of the month dinner/dance is planned for January 7, 2016, at SaddleBrooke One in the Vistas Dining Room with the adjacent Vermilion Room dance floor beginning at 5:30 p.m. Please come join us then as well as the weekly open dances/practices on Sunday afternoons (4:00 to 5:30 p.m. at MountainView Ballroom) and Wednesday afternoons (4:00 to 5:30 p.m. at the Vermilion Room). Our next Dance Party No. 2 will be on December 26, 2015, followed by the Dance-A-Thon on January 9, 2016.

To learn more about ballroom dancing with SBDC and Let’s Dance, please visit our Facebook page (Let’s Dance) or contact me at [email protected]. This is my last column for SBDC as we are combining information for both clubs under Ruth Birkhead’s column.