Who Wrote the Electric Slide Dance Song “Electric Boogie”

If you’ve been to a wedding, birthday party, school dance, or bar and bat mitzvah in the past 50 years, chances are you’re familiar with the dance, the Electric Slide.

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But what is the history of the song “Electric Boogie” that powers that specific party dance? And what is the history of the accompanying dance, itself?

Let’s dive into that below.

The Electric Slide Dance

Known both as The Electric and The Electric Slide, the choreographed line dance is today set to Marcia Griffiths and Bunny Wailer’s song “Electric Boogie.”

According to legend, choreographer, pianist, and Broadway performer Richard L. Silver created the dance in 1976 after hearing a demo of the Wailer recording. To date, there are several variations of the dance, but the original offering has some 22 steps. Today, variants include the 16-step dance called Freeze or the 24-step Cowboy Motion.

The most popular version is the more streamlined 18-step Electric Slide, which became popular in 1989. For 10 years, the song was considered by Linedance Magazine as the No. 1 dance in the entire world.

[RELATED: Newly Unearthed Bob Marley and the Wailers 1973 Footage Available to Stream]

Dance Controversy

In 2007, choreographer Silver filed take-down notices to YouTube users who posted their own videos of people performing the 18-step Electric Slide dance. That later led the Electronic Frontier Foundation to file a suit on behalf of videographer Kyle Machulis against Silver, which asked the courts to protect Machulis’ free speech rights in recording the dance for a documentary posted online. On May 22, 2007, the EFF settled the suit, which stated that Silver will license the Electric Slide under a Creative Commons noncommercial license.

The Song, “Electric Boogie”

The lively dance song was originally written and recorded in 1976 by Bunny Wailer (born Neville O’Riley Livingston), who was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and percussionist. Bunny was an original member of the reggae group The Wailers, along with reggae legend Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. Bunny is a three-time Grammy Award winner.

Today, his song, as noted above, is very much connected to the Electric Slide line dance.

But the most successful rendition of the song comes from Marcia Griffiths, who is also a Jamaican musician known for her smooth songs and performances. Griffiths released her version of the song in 1983 and a remixed version landed on the album Carousel, which garnered it and her more attention. That song hit No. 51 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1990. The song also hit No. 78 on the Hot Black Singles chart the same year.

Photo by David Corio/Redferns

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