Alligator Dance on the FLOOR An Obscene Dance from My Youth Confirmed!

 Alligator Dance.

If you try to tell a forgotten story every day, as I do, you will find despite billions of bits and bytes, the internet frequently lets you down.  There is no substitute for the library kids…just  remember that.

In researching the snapshot above, from 1955, showing an African-American man writhing on the floor, I was reminded of a brief fad from my junior high school days.  A dance move so bold, so racy, so damn filthy that the minute ONE boy did it, the party was OVER.  At the least, the offender was yanked up and sent home with a phone call to his parents .

It was called the Alligator.

To do the Alligator, when I was a kid, was to drop down and feign the male humping of intercourse on the floor of the gymnasium.  That's right.  To fake the fug.  To plunge to the floor and rut like a dog right near center-court when the chaperones were busy looking for smokers in the boy's room.  When I found and bought this snapshot  I was determined to bring it back.

I expected deep Gullah roots or something… a juke joint origin from the early days of rock and roll, when the Devil's music was just starting to ruin America's youth.  

Imagine my dismay when the almighty internet traced it to a 1980s move from Bob Saget's completely neutered TV show FULL HOUSE!  What a crock!   As in Crocodile, not alligator.   SURELY I wasn't wrong…and surely whatever the Full House claimed as their dance step involved fewer real humps than a camel without any.

To my great dismay that is where the trail ended, almost.  I still remembered back in my youth the big scandal and hallways in school following sock hops when so and so was yanked up off the floor after a brief, furtive "alligator rock" down on the floor.

I persisted.

And finally I found what I was looking for.  Read it yourself.  Sure enough, I wasn't crazy, and the dance had spread to Cincinnati.  The UPI even picked it up!  The date was exactly when I remembered it too!  1966!  Of course, in the original photo here, you can see, as always with dance, the brothers did it ten years earlier than we did.

But that is about all I found.  So the next time I am at the Dance floor at the Lincoln Center Library, I'll see what else I can find.  Obviously, the web sucks.

Original Anonymous Snapshot, 1955 Collection Jim Linderman




  1. Wow, I never heard of that one. But then I went to a school where the teachers carried rulers. Not to hit us with. It was to measure how close boys were standing with girls when they danced. The only time they'd forget to measure is when Louie, Louie came on. Then they'd be racing across the gym yelling at the kid with the turntable. Ahhh, our youth.

  2. It was huge in NOLA when I was a teen, but I remember it being there in 62.

  3. Dick Clark, if he were still with us, would have remembered. According to this account, it was on of two dances (the other being "The Dog") banned from American Bandstand as being "too sexy".

  4. Another incident from April 21, 1966, as reported in The Paper, the student newspaper at Michigan State University. (Page 2, "Police Reports-The Peace-Keepers")

    In a nutshell, a student was removed from a dance because he was doing "The Alligator" without shoes and refused to put them back on. No shoes, no dance? But what about sock hops? (Also, be sure to check out the "Son of Bureaucratic Atrocities Department" on page 6.)

  5. Wow, great article. @Tattered and Lost - so funny about the rulers! Aaa loooway loooway haha amazing how times change :)

  6. Earliest photo I've seen. Have linked this to

    Obscene, hardly, the best feel-good dance in my memory.

  7. did this have any inspiration for Crododile Rock by Bernie Taupin/Elton John?

  8. The attached website provides a few videos that may be raunchy, but hardly obscens. Rather, the majority of recollections and images display the fun most associate with the dance.

  9. There was a tribute to the 'gator in 1978's Animal House during the toga party dance scene, but you already knew that, eh? :)

  10. Love the Alligator. xo
    ~ Herman Swan

  11. There is also a scene in the movie GREASE. Kenickie does it on the floor during the school dance contest. Thanks for the trip
    down memory lane.