Jerk (dance)

The jerk was a popular or fad dance in the 1960s.


The jerk is similar to the monkey. The arms move and hands move as if conducting. The wrists cross in front of the chest and then sweep out in time, or at half time, with the music. The hands are up at face level. On count 1, the outward sweep, the hands are quickly pushed out, giving the jerky motion. For a little more style, the fingers may be snapped on the two outward movements—the first and third counts of the hand motion.

Songs featuring or suggesting the danceEdit

Released as a single in 1964 on the Money record label, "The Jerk" was a hit for the Los Angeles band the Larks.

In the same year, the Miracles wrote and recorded "Come on Do the Jerk".

Another Motown group, the Contours, released "Can You Jerk Like Me" in 1964.

Dobie Gray released "Monkey Jerk" as the B-side to his 1965 single "My Baby".

The Capitols performed a 1966 hit song called "Cool Jerk", written to capitalize on the dance's popularity. The song has been covered by several bands, including the Go-Go's.

Rocket from the Crypt recorded the song "When in Rome, Do the Jerk" in 1998 as a homage to the dance.

Bobby Fuller referenced this dance in his song, "Jenny Lee (Do the Jerk With Me)".

George Harrison made a reference in his song, "Dark Horse" from 1974.

Janet Jackson made reference to jerking in her 2004 single "All Nite (Don't Stop)".

References in popular cultureEdit

Hip hop performers the Sugarhill Gang mention that Tonto performs the dance in their 1981 hit song "Apache".[a]


  1. ^ Kemosabe got down, took off his mask
    And kicked off his shoes and did the Monster Mash.
    Tonto came along, saw what was happening
    His head began to pop and his foot starts to patting
    And go slam! dunk! do the Jerk
    And with the mic is how my smoke signals work

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