The 60 Best Dancefloor Classics

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The 60 Best Dancefloor Classics

The magic of a dancefloor classic is its timelessness. Most pop songs, upon their release, meet some sort of success in the danceable arena, but they also tend to run their course fairly quickly. These songs, however, excel in both their range of genre and universal acceptance over the years. Little kids and elderly grandparents can get down to these songs; they’re appropriate at proms, bar and bat mitzvahs, quinceañeras and weddings. After polling Paste’s staff and writers, here are 60 of the best dancefloor classics from throughout the ages.

60. Los del Río, “Macarena”
This dance is so easy. In all of 11 steps even the most left-footed of dancers can fit in with the masses. In this case, the dance probably usurps the popularity of the song itself—a repetitive, moderate-tempo, clave-led dance hit. —Hilary Saunders

59. PSY, “Gangam Style”
PSY’s “Gangam Style” took over the internet in 2012; the video even broke YouTube’s view counter. But that Christmas, as 50 drunk Iranians were dancing to it in my living room and my uncle Kaveh sang along in stupor, I realized the song had broken through the internet and become so much more than a meme. That holiday season, “Gangnam Style,” along with a steady flow of alcohol, tightened the bond with my extended family. And that is the power of a true dance floor classic. —Sarra Sedghi

58. The Go-Gos, “Vacation”
The Go-Go’s girl group-evoking, surf-guitar-grazing first song off Vacation was equal parts tart and broken hearted, thanks to Belinda Carlisle’s vocals. With a melody that builds and loads, “Vacation” offered a boppy bit of delight for spring breakers, college grinders and anybody desperately needing a break. —Holly Gleason

57. Miami Sound Machine, “Conga”
You couldn’t go to a party or quince or a getty without hearing this song in certain parts in Miami during the 1980s or ‘90s. Actually, it’s pretty much is omnipresent even today, as one of the biggest hits from Miami’s reigning musical queen. Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine broke through Latin radio to pop radio with “Conga.” True to name, their signature song features heavy conga percussion, but the bleating trumpets and sultry vocals helped it become such a mainstream success. —Hilary Saunders

56. The Bangles, “Walk Like An Egyptian”
Tambourine-driven and whistle-punctuated, somehow the Bangles figured out how to maintain the last bit of their punk cred on the danceable “Walk Like An Egyptian.” With gnawing guitars, throbbing bass, a buried gong and their thick “way-oh-WAY-ohhhhhh” harmonies, The Bangles hit the top of the charts and ignited a dance craze with this somewhat novelty single. —Holly Gleason

55. The Clash, “Rock The Casbah”
The Clash’s rebuke to a ban on Western music following the 1979 Islamic Revolution makes its often-political music equal parts whimsical and fist-in-your-wind-pipe. The track—featuring dinky toy keyboards, hand claps and guitar buzzing —is largely the work of Topper Headon, but it’s Joe Strummer’s protest lyrics that brought the insurrection over pop music in the Middle East into slogan-sized nuggets. With its lean, syncopated churn, the punk icons had their greatest pop radio hit that can be enjoyed with or without political context. —Holly Gleason

54. Billy Ray Cyrus, “Achy Breaky Heart”
“Achy Breaky Heart” may be the single biggest dance sensation to come out of country music. A little bit Hokey Pokey, a few dashes Tush Push, and just a tad bit of the Ally Cat, the “Achy Breaky” got people who didn’t even like country music into the clubs and out on the floor. For the former club rat with big dreams, Cyrus strained to rock, but in the end, his pop confection was too great to withstand. —Holly Gleason

53. Thin Lizzy, “The Boys Are Back In Town”
Good times follow bad boys; that’s a fact proven by Thin Lizzy. With a double guitar attack, tumbling drum work that hits a rapid fire pound down after the bridge, and a sense of urgency nonpareil, “The Boys Are Back In Town” culminates with a chorus suited to hoisting drinks and screeching along off-key and with gusto. Celebrating any night out anywhere, “The Boys Are Back In Town” remains a cheap beer, blue-collar thrill. —Holly Gleason

52. Blondie, “Call Me”
The CBGB siren Debbie Harry, in her razor bangs and Stephen Sprouse DayGlo, seemed the antithesis of Studio 54 chic. Yet, Blondie’s retro new wave was as much kitsch as it was punk. At the height of the disco movement—when even the Stones were dropping the hot desert “Emotional Rescue” for dance floor currency—Giorgio Moroder teamed with the downtown upstarts for the theme to Richard Gere’s breakout film American Gigolo.

Building from a frenzied pace, the synthesizers rise and tumble and the bass line bubbles like a lava lamp set on boil. But it’s Harry’s oxymoronic earthy, yet, ethereal sangfroid that that sets this track on fire. Pop radio couldn’t get enough, and “Call Me” took the band to superstardom. —Holly Gleason

51. Aerosmith, “Walk This Way”
Long before Run D.M.C. chopped and raked Aerosmith’s classic, the squealing Joe Perry riff and Steven Tyler’s motor mouth eruption of sensual overload and silver bullets took hold. Anything goes dance-wise. Air guitars and drums are de rigeur. S-wave body rocking and a lot of shoulder rolling and arm thrusting make this the non-dancer’s spasm of delight. No matter how you choose to color in the crescendo every two lines, everybody’s got a way to walk, or strut, this way. —Holly Gleason

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