In 1969, Rufus Thomas wrote “Do the funky chicken.” It became #5 in the R&B chart and #28 on the US pop chart in 1970 and was produced by Al Bell and Tom Nixon. It featured the instrumentals by the Bar Keys and the guitar stylings of Michael Toles. The song was the title track on Thomas’s 1970 LP Do the Funky Chicken. After performing with Willie Mitchells band, Thomas improvised the song as a novelty like most of the songs on the record. Thomas was quoted as saying that the inspiration for the song came to him in the middle of a performance, and he just separated each move in the lyrics. Thomas was also a radio DJ and incorporated one of his regular shticks from his show into the song.
“Do the Funky Chicken” was reviewed as one of the goofiest dance crazes of the 1970’s. This song has been sampled by Easy E in 1988 and by Missy Elliot in 1997. The funky chicken is a staple on most wedding dance play lists and is a crowd pleaser at any social function. A fun, silly, and memorable dance that anyone can do, its silliness is part of the appeal that has kept it so popular for so long.
As with any dance you can add your own personal flare. The lyrics tell you what to do:
“You raise the left arm up
And your right arm too
Let me tell you just what to do
Start both of ’em to flapping
You start your feet to kicking
That’s when you know
You doin’ the funky chicken”
But here is a little break down and to do this dance.
The beginning move is the neck move. Jut your chin forward and back, imitating a chicken. Next you will incorporate your arms.
With elbows bent, flap both arms up and down emulating the flapping of wings.
The last move brings the leg work into the dance. With knees bent lift your leg out to the side, alternating every step. Some improvise this move and add a ground scratch. You take the toe of your foot and scratch the ground, kicking your foot back towards your bottom.
There you have it, the Funky Chicken dance.
Arthur Murray is ready to make you move! Dance on in to our location at: 1711 N College Ave, Bloomington, IN 47404, or call us at (812) 334-0553.