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ICONS ARE BETTER #39: THE MOONWALK

Leather soles gliding seamlessly backward over a spotlit stage…

In 1983 Michael Jackson unveiled his iconic ‘Moonwalk’ dance step at Motown Record’s 25th Anniversary concert. The move lasted just three seconds, but continues to live on as a symbol of the King of Pop today.

Though Jackson didn’t conceive the dance move — that honour can be attributed to artists such as Cab Calloway, Bill Bailey, Dick Van Dyke and James Brown – it was Jackson who truly ‘owned’ it. Not many people can lay claim to ‘owning’ a particular dance move. No one really remembers the one person who popularised the ‘Worm’, the ‘Running Man’ or the ‘Harlem Shake’. Only one name springs to mind every time you hear the word ‘Moonwalk’ though.

The technicalities of the actual step, coupled with its visual beauty make it one of the most iconic dance moves in popular music. It is the trump card in Jackson’s deck of infamous dance moves, and continues to be imitated in dance halls, in bedrooms and on the streets around the world. It has grown from a dance move, to a expression of nostalgia and celebration. The fact that your mind goes to a pop singer, instead of an astronaut, when you hear the words ‘moon’ and ‘walk’ together is a reiteration of its iconic status.

I’ll confess. Many a night were spent practicing the move with varying degrees of success. I know I wasn’t the only one. I know some of you still bring it out at weddings. I’ve seen a footballer burst into the moonwalk after scoring a goal. Thirty two years on and the moonwalk continues to be performed around the world. Not bad for a dance move which lasted just three seconds.

Frank Thiruchelvam: Designer @pink_tank