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Lining Up and Letting Loose : It's a little hand jive, a little Hokey Pokey and lots of fun. The Macarena is sweeping dance clubs.

August 19, 1996|DENNIS ROMERO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Forget the Republican National Convention--so boring that even Ted Koppel bolted--and the Olympics in Atlanta. (Michael Johnson who?)

The media event of the summer is the Macarena.

This dance--so simple some pets could do it--is taking on a life of its own in nightclubs, at weddings and on cruise ships throughout the world. On Saturday, between the fifth and sixth innings of play between the Dodgers and the Montreal Expos, nearly 50,000 people participated in a Guinness world record-breaking Macarena dance at Dodger Stadium. It is a one-song line dance, belonging to the flamenco stylings of Spanish duo Los del Rio, but there are many versions of "Macarena" the tune--12 at one count.

The song and the dance have been going strong for nearly three years, but they hit stateside last winter when Miami's Bayside Boys remix team worked a little magic on Los del Rio's original Spanish version.

The result is a No. 1 U.S. hit complete with thumping house beat and a flirty woman singing in English ("Move with me / Chant with me / And if you're good / I'll take you home with me").

It's a simple line dance that recalls a bit of hand jive, Hokey Pokey and traffic direction. It doesn't involve a lot of leg work, so it's accessible to the masses.

"It's very simple," says Albert Torres, who runs the Studio City club Salsa Cabaret. "People can make a mistake but rejoin the line easily and not feel intimidated."

"I deejayed a 60th birthday party in Bel-Air," says mobile deejay Hector Flores. "We were playing swing and they asked for the Macarena."

No one seems to know the exact origin of the dance. One theory has it being invented in Miami nightclubs about two years ago. Another says it came from Mexican tourist meccas such as Mazatlan, Acapulco and Cancun, where it made its way to cruise ships that then brought the dance to America.

It is one of a long line of line dances that have evolved in recent years--from the Electric Slide to the Achy Breaky Dance to the Caribbean Cowboy.

"Line dances have been around since the '50s," says Santa Monica dance instructor Ron Arciaga.

Perhaps none have been as popular. "Macarena," the song, has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. The Macarena dance has been performed at an Olympic exhibition by the U.S. women's gymnastics team, at NBA games and in soccer stadiums, and it has evolved to include new variations such as hip-hop steps, extra hip grinding and more involved turns.

But the bread and butter of this little jig is its basic form, performed in suburban nightclubs such as San Bernardino's Brandin' Iron, where the country line dance rules.

"It's not just for boots and hats," says head instructor Mike Bowman. "It's a crossover phenomenon. We have to play it four or five times a night."

Cruise ships and mobile deejays in particular are credited with keeping this fire burning, since they haven't had such a universally well-liked party device to lean on since the Electric Slide hit more than five years ago.

"It makes my job easier," says Flores, owner of Explosive DJ Service in Venice. "It's easier to get people out on the dance floor."

Others aren't so enthusiastic.

"I hate it," says dance instructor Arciaga. "That song just gets in your head and it doesn't leave."

Will it last?

"As soon as the song wears out," predicts Bowman, "the dance will wear out, because it doesn't go to anything else."

But then again, as one executive with Los del Rio's record company, BMG, once salivated: "We tremble to think what ['Macarena'] will do in Asia."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Hey, Macarena!

Dancing the Macarena is easy, fun and only as slinky as the dancer desires. The steps:

1. Right hand out, palm down. Left hand out, palm down.

2. Right hand out, palm up. Left hand out, palm up.

3. Right hand on left arm. Left hand on right arm. 4. Right hand on head. Left hand on head.

5. Right hand on left hip. Left hand on right hip.

6. Right hand on backside. Left hand on backside.

7. Sway back and forth three times, then turn 90 degrees to the right.

Sources: AP research.

* RELATED STORY F1

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