Hey Macarena!: The History of The Mid-1990s Dance Craze

Before you come after me with pitchforks, consider the fact that this was a trend in the days before the internet was common, we only really had magazines and television (not YouTube) to guide us on trends, and well, we were sorta dumb enough to fall into this trap.

Only in the 1990s, my friends.

Today kicks off July’s dance fad theme – five weeks, five different fad dances we all (willingly or otherwise) participated in at some point.  Partially inspired by my wedding last month, with further inspiration by seeing the music video for today’s song/dance before seeing Friends! A Musical Parody (the Pop-Up Video version, if you need any more of a fad-type reference), as well as my dance background, this one was a no-brainer.

The last Saturday of July (until last year) was National Dance Day (as of 2019, it is now the third Saturday in September).  That certainly didn’t hurt either.

Spoiler alert, “The Chicken Dance” is not part of this month’s dances, but we did do that at my wedding (along with a few other “fad” wedding staples, one of which will be featured).

Anyway, let’s get in the “time machine” and head back to the magical year of…1993.  It will be important to start here, and work our way to the mid-1990s.



“Macarena,” as it was originally intended, was released in 1993 as a rumba, and was the first of six versions (yes, six!) associated with Los Del Rio.  Now, the interesting story about Los Del Rio is that as a duo, they had been making music since 1962.  So they had those whole other career before their association with a fad song/dance combination.  However, they weren’t the originators of the version that became the huge fad of the mid-1990s (one of many, of course!) – that would be the Bayside Boys.

Flash forward to…



Screenshot (345)

In mid-1996, a version of “Macarena” incorporating English language lyrics was remixed by Bayside Boys.  The song first came into notice on the mainstream level when clubgoers in Miami requested the song to DJ Jammin Jimmy Caride, who worked at both a nightclub and radio station Power 96 in Miami.  He brought it to the attention of his supervisor at Power 96, who requested the creation of an English-language version of the song.  In addition to the English-language lyrics, a dance beat specifically targeted to American and British audiences, a female studio musician recorded the English-language lyrics.

This version of the song, still credited to Los del Rio, but considered the “Bayside Boys Mix,” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1996, spending 14 weeks in that spot, and stayed on the charts for 46 weeks (!), moving back to #1 in its final week.

And if you want to counter a fad with a fad, this song was kept out of the #1 spot by The Spice Girls song “Wannabe.”

Yeah, I really have nothing, except I fell into both fads.

So, as for that dance…

Do The Macarena!

I was thirteen years old in the summer of 1996, when “Macarena” was released.  I remember watching the dance being performed at the MTV Beach House that summer, and everyone was doing it.  You had little kids doing it in preschool (I have a cousin who used to do it adorably as a three-year-old), and grandparents learning how to do it.  It was even done at the 1996 Democratic National Convention, and even shown being done by delegates on CSPAN. You know that had to be the most exciting day of CSPAN watching EVER!

I actually remember seeing it too!

Upload via ABC News

I’m not huge on politics or anything, but CSPAN was LIT that day!

As for the grandparents learning the dance, I know all about this.  My maternal grandmother (who passed away in 2015) really wanted to know how to do “Macarena.”  Guess who got to teach grandma how to “Macarena”?

The song was The Dance at the middle school (and I’m sure high school) dances and anywhere dancing could potentially break out.  We did it at a small backyard Fourth of July party when I was in middle school, and years later at a work event.  Pathetically enough, this dance is hard to forget.  It buries itself in your subconscious with all the other allegedly forgotten nostalgia.

It also turns up in instructional videos on YouTube!

Upload by videojug

So, Who is “Macarena”?

Screenshot (344)Macarena is a promiscuous girl who cheats on her boyfriend, while he is being drafted into the army.  So…she’s kinda slutty.

I wonder if Los del Rio had some kind of inspiration for Macarena and her actions?

From songs about cheating girlfriends, and dances set to it…

The Music Video


I don’t think I have to tell you about the music video that launched the dance, since it was all over television in the summer of 1996.  Like I said, I learned the dance from watching MTV’s summer programming.  This music video has been permanently burned into my head, and seeing the music video in – of all places, Las Vegas – on my honeymoon only pushed it back to the forefront of my consciousness all over again.

Not like I actually forgot about it, but let’s just say I put this on the “banned” list for my wedding music.  I draw the line at “The Chicken Dance.”  Though that was a huge laugh, this would have been interesting to see how many adults actually remember how to do this.  Considering that alot of the attendees were teenagers when “Macarena” was at its peak, I wouldn’t be shocked if we had a larger group doing this.

Anyway, let’s relive the time a bunch of professional music video dancers in very 1990s attire performed it.  Because the internet won’t let us forget.

Upload via Beka Ananidze

Oh, and there’s the Pop-Up Video version as well, which is the reason I even chose this topic.

You’re welcome.

Upload via Gladstone Girl4

And Now, You!

Surely you’ve done the “Macarena,” or been somewhere where this was done.  Did you follow the trend?  Tell me your memories of shaking your hips and yelling “HEY, MACARENA!”

Next week, another fad dance!

Have a great day!



  1. Hi Allison — I’m Mark Davis — Matt Bolton’s friend — who did the Macarena at the Kmart service desk in 1996 as referenced above. First off, you write a very entertaining Blog and it’s nice to see that you discuss a number of interesting topics. It’s fun to reminisce about things like this, and I wanted to chime in on the discussion! And a little overly detailed background and history. Warning: It’s long.

    To go back a little in time here… in the mid-1990’s, right after I graduated from college, I spent quite a bit of time in the Chicagoland club scene… for those who might be from the same area as me, you may recall the Alumni Club in Schaumburg, Hudson’s in Elmhurst, Oliver’s in Downers Grove, Boogie Nights in Lombard, and Tooter’s in LaGrange. I ended up at these places for a number of reasons – sometimes as friends were meeting up there, sometimes I was in pursuit of finding a significant other, or perhaps I was dating someone who wanted me to take them there. They were great times, and you would find me sometimes stumbling on the dance floor with no skill whatsoever (after many, many drinks were consumed). And then came the Macarena in mid-1996, which was usually played multiple times throughout the night. I was dating a girl who knew the Macarena, and I needed to “impress” her, so I actually learned the Macarena and payed close attention as to how to do it. So I learned my first dance, and seemed rather innocent I didn’t think it ever would go anywhere.

    In parallel to this during the day, I was working on the South Side of Chicago as a manager at Kmart. An internal memo came off of the dot matrix printer in late September, which informed the management team to get ready to dance the Macarena. It went something like this — “Saturday, October 12 at 3pm CST – The Macarena will be played simultaneously at all stores over the satellite music feed. All managers, supervisors, and associates are invited to participate in the middle of their shift, no matter where you may be working. Turn up the music volume loud for this event and be sure to locally advertise this in the days leading up to the event…” Being a new overly-enthusiastic manager and a company guy, I was ecstatic to show off these newly-learned dancing skills. Where did I suggest do this on 10/12? No other place than the customer service desk where a group of shoppers and employees could watch and take my lead.

    So the Macarena Saturday arrived, and around 3pm, we cranked up the volume in anticipation of the event. And it started, and yours truly hopped onto the service desk and did the dance. What I thought would be a smaller group of people turned out to be approximately 100+ customers and employees who stopped and stared in disbelief as I swung my arms around, positioned my hips, and shook my ass and turning 90 degrees to do it all over again. I was so embarrassed about this over-commitment and glad when it was over a few minutes later. And, during this whole debacle, I happened to break the counter at the service desk, where the edges of two surfaces met.

    I worked at this location for approximately 4 months, and in January 1997, I was promoted to a suburban store. During the last week there, they had a goodbye gathering with cake, cookies, and a TV/VCR combo was present in the Little Caesars restaurant within the store. On that TV was a VHS tape that played, which contained a full recording and account of my Macarena dance, in color but without any sound. It was a recording of the security camera footage, recorded by the loss prevention team.. I then came to learn that many others had seen the tape and that it was a regular event to have people come back and laugh at it, all completely outside of my knowledge. I was given the tape as a memento, where it was put into my collection of oddball Kmart items, which I came across again a few years ago.

    So I digitized the tape for posterity, potentially for viewing after my time on this earth is done. It’s one of those things that is “so bad, that it’s good”. But it’s so embarrassing and stupid, that I can’t even personally watch it in its entirety, it’s just that type of thing where it’s painfully miserable to watch. I did take some screens shots to share, simply to prove that it did happen, which I recently texted to Matt and am willing to share.

    So there it is. A long story and a little history to supplement your Macarena entry!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Mark!! Now that is a great story – I was excitedly awaiting your take on the day! So, I checked the date of when you did this, and that would have been in 1996. I was doing the Macarena pretty actively at the time. I really need to see the screenshots, and if you’re willing to share the video, I would love to see it!

      I think I’m familiar with your KMart collection – have you ever shared any of it through Retroist?

      Thank you very much for your compliments – this blog is a passion project of mine, and I love being able to share that passion with those who are interested in reading it.

      I will be sharing your comment as a follow up to this (over on my blog’s Facebook page). I truly appreciate comments that stand out, and anything that can shed some light on a topic is something I always appreciate! Thank you for your great story and…I hope they fixed that counter! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Allison, I’ll look you up on Facebook as well Attached is the evidence! And yours truly fixed the broken service desk with an angle bracket later that day!

        Sent from my iPhone


        Liked by 1 person

  2. A friend of mine worked at Kmart when this song was at it’s peak and Kmart decided to get in on the action. Periodically during the day they would play the song and all employees were required to stop what they were doing and do the dance while the music played. Apparently it didn’t have the intended consequence, as it just annoyed the customers, who had to wait while the cashiers finished dancing. There’s security camera footage of my friend, standing on the service desk, doing that stupid dance in front of customers.

    Liked by 1 person

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