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Kids' Party Mix: Songs For A New Generation

Kids will always dance at parties, but the music they choose is bound to evolve with the tastes of each new generation.

Or is it?

Pose a question to Mrs. Kushnir's third-grade class at Lafayette Elementary School in Washington, D.C. — "Which music makes you dance around?" — and you'll hear a laundry list of trends from the '50s onward: "Surfin USA" by The Beach Boys. The theme song for the long-running '70s detective drama Hawaii Five-0. MC Hammer's 1990 smash "U Can't Touch This." They even know all the moves to "The Macarena."

If the kids in your life don't know these, have them follow these YouTube links — or, depending on the songs, maybe keep them to yourself.

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Hawaii Five-O

Television theme songs can be perfect dance-along fodder for kids. Some are such a driving force -- like a 30-foot wave crashing down on Waikiki Beach -- that children become empowered by the music. Take Morton Stevens' theme to Hawaii Five-0, which evokes a world of heroism and intrigue. The theme from the '70s detective series translates easily to school marching bands, too: The heavy brass and percussion gets 'em rocking in the bleachers, not to mention doing The Wave.


A ubiquitous hit from the 1983 film Flashdance, "Maniac" is the sound of leg warmers, leotards and, in its famous video, Jennifer Beals' warm-up routine. Michael Sembello's song was originally used in a 1980 horror film; its lyrics were changed to suit Flashdance's more general audience. These days, it doesn't even need that context to get today's Junior Jazzercisers dancing.


The mere mention of "The Macarena," the '90s dance sensation by Los Del Rio, induces shuddering in many adults, but kids still love the song. When the title was mentioned in Mrs. Kushnir's class, every student ran through the familiar moves: Place hands on hips, gyrate, hop 90 degrees clockwise, repeat. Though the original was sung in Spanish, the lyrics have morphed into something any child can understand: "One maca, two maca, three Macarena." If you count it up to 10, it fits perfectly well with the structure of the chorus -- a good thing, given that the original words were a little off-color.

We Like to Party!

The Dutch group Vengaboys -- in reality, two boys and two girls -- hit it big in 1998 with this early techno anthem. Years later, it was resurrected in a particularly unfortunate theme-park ad campaign, in which an elderly man danced to the song. Of course, the track's ubiquity and relentless hook made it a smash for kids, even if memories of the commercial make it a harder sell for their parents.

Cupid Shuffle

The kids aren't just dancing to crazes from many years -- or even decades -- ago. Among the most recent line dances to sweep elementary-school cafeterias is Cupid's appropriately named "Cupid Shuffle." How best to describe it? Well, it's kinda like "The Twist," but for specifics, click the link to watch Cupid offer detailed instructions.

Brian Foster