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Exploring the history and charm of the dance everyone participates in—the Chicken Dance.

By Kellie B. Gormly

The dance floor buzzes under a tent at the giant Cleveland-area Oktoberfest, where musician Alex Meixner and his hip polka band entertain a merry crowd with one Hofbrauhaus-style number after another.

And then comes the song I’ve personally been waiting for—the one where we dancers flap our hands, pump our arms, wiggle our bottoms and clap. It’s the beloved—though sometimes, sneered at—Chicken Dance.

I requested this song. I admit it. I was sober. And no, I’m not embarrassed—even if I hadn’t have asked for the dance as part of my research for an article.

The truth is, this silly “goose”—so to speak—really digs the outrageously silly group dance that Germans mostly know as Ententanz (Duck Dance) or Vogeltanz (Bird Dance). Apparently, Germans don’t use the word Kükentanz, which would be the exact translation of “Chicken Dance”.

Americans mostly know this as the Chicken Dance, which kids are happy to do at weddings, Oktoberfests and parties. Many adults, on the other hand, tend to be more inhibited and may need a few beers before they are willing to hit the dance floor.

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