Teach me how to Tighten Up!
February 17, 2011 4:46 AM   Subscribe

The song is The Tighten Up and the band is Archie Bell & the Drells, but the dance????? This song is the bomb and I know there was an associated dance, but after a fair amount of internet research, I've got nothing.

My brother, a soul music aficionado, emailed me the following, but as you can see this doesn't get me much closer to dazzling my friends with my sweet moves:

"There seems to be no consensus as to what the dance actually is....

...Another site claimed the dance was also called the Typewriter and the Four Corners. The Typewriter seems to be that Mc Hammer skittering across the floor thing. The Four Corners is apparently a standard b-boy step, but that doesn't seem to relate to the Tighten Up....

http://www.dance-forums.com/showthread.php?p=13943
… I'll try to describe the dance as best I can. You would draw your shoulders up and sway from side to side turning slightly on each side standing in place and you can add a variety of moves with the timing of the music including your legs whether forward or backwards. …"
posted by killerinsideme to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
The dance was called the Tighten Up, wasn't it?
posted by iconomy at 4:56 AM on February 17, 2011


Yes, it was, but I can't find a video, or one of those foot diagrams, or anything like that.
posted by killerinsideme at 4:57 AM on February 17, 2011


They're showing how to do it in this video, I think?
posted by iconomy at 5:02 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


yeah, lift your shoulders, draw your elbows in, (you know, "tighten up") one, one to the left, one, one to the right. i remember my siblings doing it.
posted by elle.jeezy at 5:03 AM on February 17, 2011


Not an answer to your question - (so much as the place where your answer should be recorded) - and an amazing source link to 532 different dances from the 60s - most of them "instructional dances" like "Tighten Up".

But here is somebody who lived through the craze giving specific advice:
...the 'Tighten up' is a dance as well as a song musically set for it. It all started in May-June of 1968... I'll try to describe the dance as best I can. You would draw your shoulders up and sway from side to side turning slightly on each side standing in place and you can add a variety of moves with the timing of the music including your legs whether forward or backwards
posted by rongorongo at 5:28 AM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


She referenced that site and comment in the question, rongorongo.
posted by iconomy at 5:34 AM on February 17, 2011


How strange, I was listening to it just this morning. For some reason, I only presumed it was a song and the dance was hypothetical.
posted by mippy at 6:14 AM on February 17, 2011


Hey iconomy - I'd looked at that video and some of the moves seem to relate, but then the ones where the guys have their arms way up in the air didn't seem to correspond.

I did find this awesome little gem:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ratio/2520126443/

I'm pretty close to trying to just get in touch with this guy and ask. I'm concerned about mixing in too much Fishstick or Boogie Oogie, though - I want pure Tighten Up! [sorry I can't figure out how to hyperlink right now]

Hey rongorongo, that website is spectacular! I came across it yesterday and got all excited hoping I'd found the Tighten Up. Not that not finding the Tighten Up stopped me from spending a good hour digging around....
posted by killerinsideme at 6:32 AM on February 17, 2011


Thank you for asking this, I have wondered about this for ages.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:45 AM on February 17, 2011


I heard it was big in Houston, TX.
posted by hwyengr at 9:02 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it the Fishstick from the podcast "You Look Nice Today"?
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 10:48 AM on February 17, 2011


Isn't this it? This is Archie Bell and the Drells singing about the dance; aren't the dancers doing it? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n7C1AyU-9Q
posted by LonnieK at 12:24 PM on February 17, 2011


That's the same video iconomy posted in their second answer. Since there's so much cutting back and forth it's hard for me to see the flow and order of the steps.
posted by killerinsideme at 1:19 PM on February 17, 2011


Archie Bell talks about the tighten up in this interview. Unfortunately, he is rather vague. He states that people from around Houston had a variety of ways to do the tighten up and that the group came up with the dance after the song was recorded. It was a phrase a friend used in passing that inspired the song.

I was in the same boat a week ago when I put together a dance craze song show. I was able to find a lot of videos on how to do classic dances but the tighten up was one that eluded me.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:40 PM on February 18, 2011


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