The Hully-Gully, French Madison, Hot Chocolate and Electric Slide
Richard Powers

The Madison (1957-59) was the first dance in today's line dance tradition.  It featured a room full of dancers all facing in one direction, without partners, performing a sequence of steps together as a group.  The Madison was a long series of perhaps ten step patterns, called out by a DJ or a recording (most notably Ray Bryant's "Madison Time," 1959).

Watch a 1959 demonstration of the Madison by Buddy Dean Show dancers Joan Darby and Joe Cash here.

A description of the African American roots of the Madison is here.

The Hully-Gully from circa 1959 was a line dance with three new innovations.  1) It was a single short pattern of steps, instead of the previous long sequence of step combinations.  2) It's believed to be the first line dance to turn one quarter, then repeat facing a different wall.  (Note: All 1960s line dances turned to the right wall. Later line dances mostly turned to the left.)  3) An innovation that was retained by some later line dances is that it contained an odd number of dance phrases.  The five parts of the dance, done against the four phrases of music, kept the simplified repeating pattern more interesting than if it always aligned with the music.

The following is based on a 1965 Hully-Gully description by Dick Blake, that correlates with other early descriptions of the dance.  Notice that he uses the term line dance.  They were called line dances because they were originally danced side-by-side in a straight line.  Watch any of the YouTube videos of early line dances, like the Madison, and you'll see that everyone is dancing in short straight lines.  You can also see the lines on the album cover to the right.
"This is a line dance.  In other words you stand side by side with your partner."

 1. Start with feet together; step to the right with the right foot.
 2. Cross behind right foot with left foot on count two, putting weight on left foot.
 3. Step right with the right foot.
 4. Kick left foot across your body.

 5. Step to the left with the left foot.
 6. Cross behind left foot with right foot, putting weight on right foot.
 7. Step left with the left foot.
 8. Kick right foot across your body.

 9. Step back on right foot.
10. Close left foot to right foot.
11. Step forward on right foot.
12. Scoot forward on right foot and bring left knee up simultaneously.

13. Step forward on the left foot.
14. Scoot forward on left foot and bring right knee up simultaneously.
15. Step forward on right foot.
16. Scoot forward on right foot and bring left knee up while turning a quarter to the right.

17. Now facing to the right, step to the left with the left foot.
18. Cross behind left foot with right foot, putting weight on right foot.
19. Step left with the left foot.
20. On count four, kick right foot across your body.
Style variation:  Some dancers hitched the left hip up and forward on count 12, instead of scooting the right foot forward.  Repeat opposite.
Style variation:  Another side-step pattern was side-close-side, without crossing behind.
        Watch these variations here, in a video I shot in Italy.  The Hully-Gully is still very popular in Italy.
Variation:  Some dancers began the pattern with the side-left phrase, steps 17-20 above.
Style variation:  Many dancers clapped on counts 4, 8 and 20, as seen in the photo below.

June 4, 1961 photo in the St. Petersburg Times, Florida. The caption was, "This is the way the Hully Gully is done in a group... and it's great fun! Takes a while to catch on to it though."


The Madison line dance may have evolved from the Big Apple, which was a continued evolution of prompted (called) quadrilles, to prompted square dances, to prompted Appalachian big circle dances, which were the same figures done in one large circle.  African Americans in Columbia, South Carolina, jazzed up their regional big circle dances with jazz steps and swing music, at their Big Apple Night Club.  From there, the Big Apple, as it became known, spread into a huge nationwide fad in 1937-40.  Versions of it lingered, and less than twenty years later, African Americans at the small LVA Club on Columbus, Ohio, once again updated this concept with newer music and jazz steps, still prompted by a caller.  This theory (like most) is speculation, but the Big Apple was still known then, and compacting a large circle into a small line, in a crowded club, while keeping everything else about the Big Apple, is an obvious modification.

The Madison line dance made its way from America to France in the late 1950s, where young dancers loved doing the latest American fads.  But it was no more than a brief novelty because most dancers found the long series of steps too difficult.

Harold Nicholas took the new Hully-Gully to Paris and demonstrated it on the Paris pop music television program "Age tendre et tête de bois" on February 16, 1963.  The next year, filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard made Bande à part that featured a slightly modified version of the Hully Gully.  The dancers retained the original five-part phrasing, but replaced the Part 5 side step with stopping in place.  (Then they invented a second part for the film, to make it more interesting).  Watch it here.

More young French dancers saw Bande à part than the television show, but the film didn't say what the new dance was called.  So moviegoers just assumed it must be another Madison, and called it Le Madison.  This version has been danced in France ever since, often at weddings and parties.  In France, the stop in place on part 5, from Bande à part, was morphed into the final step of Part 4, thus squaring four parts of the dance to the four phrases of the music.  Today most French still call it Le Madison instead of the Hully-Gully.  Italians call it Il Hully-Gully and keep the original five parts.

The disco line dance Hot Chocolate (1978) is similar, 15 years after the Hully-Gully.  Its primary feature was that it simplified every aspect of the Hully-Gully that a beginner or non-dancer might find difficult: the step-ball-change, the hip-hitch walking forward, and the odd number of phrases danced against the music.  With all of the drinking done in discos (44,000 new disco clubs sprouted up in 1978 partially because liquor sales were so profitable), this was a smart adaptation.
One version of the 1981 Elvira line dance is identical to the Hot Chocolate, simply dancing it to a non-disco tune.
 1. Step to the right with the right foot.
 2. Cross behind right foot with left foot on count two, putting weight on left foot.
 3. Step right with the right foot on count three.
 4. Tap L closed to R.  Or as with the Hully Gully, the left foot can kick or swing across in front of the right foot.

 5. Step to the left with the left foot.
 6. Cross behind left foot with right foot, putting weight on right foot.
 7. Step left with the left foot.
 8. Tap R closed to L.  Or kick right foot across your body.

 9. Walk back on right foot.
10. Walk back on left foot.
11. Walk back on right foot.
12. Tap L closed to R.

13. Step forward on the left foot, leaning forward.
14. Rock back on the right foot, leaning back.
15. Rock forward on left foot, leaning forward.
16. Kick the right foot (or scuff the right heel) forward while turning one quarter to the left.

The Electric Slide (circa 1989) was literally nothing new.  All 16 steps are identical to the earlier Hot Chocolate.  The only difference in the Electric Slide is in the timing of two of the steps.  In the Electric Slide the forward-back rocking steps (steps 13 and 14 above) are slow instead of quick.  A different version of the Elvira line dance also has that slow timing.