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“The Duck Dance” Became “The Chicken Dance” After No Duck Costume Could Be Found

chicken day

Dance Like a Chicken Day is observed each year on May 14th!  This is an entertaining day from start to finish!  Everyone has probably danced the “Chicken Dance” at least once in their lifetime.  This silly fun song is popular at wedding dances, Oktoberfest, and other celebrations. The song gets people of all ages up and moving on the dance floor.

Written in the 1950s by Werner Thomas, a Swiss accordionist, the Chicken Dance didn’t even make it to the United States until sometime in the 1970s. The Chicken Dance is associated with polkas or oom-pah-pah music. Originally written with the name Der Ententanz (The Duck Dance) it was rumored to have been written as a drinking song for Oktoberfest. The song’s name was later changed to Vogeltanz (The Bird Dance).

Upon arriving in America in the 1970s, the song had acquired choreography with repetitive beak, wing, and tail motions as well as the new name, The Chicken Dance.

  • Cincinnati, Ohio —  September 20, 2004 — At the Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, rock musician Vince Neil served as Grand Marshall at the World’s Largest Chicken Dance.
  • Judson Laipply’s Evolution of Dance featured  “The Chicken Dance”.
  • In 2004, Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil served as Grand Marshall of the World’s Largest Chicken Dance in Cinncinati. VH1 called the appearance “the single least metal moment in history.”
  • November 13, 2009 — In support of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, CIHT-FM played “The Chicken Dance” continuously until 389 tickets for the CHEO Dream of a Lifetime were purchased for $100 each.  They played for over 3 hours straight.
  • April 23, 2010 — An attempt at the World’s Largest Chicken Dance record was held at Byron Center, Michigan at Jake’s Restaurant in a fundraiser for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.  Jake’s Restaurant is the site of a giant plastic chicken sculpture.
  • July 4, 2010 — Mandan, North Dakota established a new World Record for the Longest Chicken Dance at their annual Independence Day Parade and Street Festival.
    The Mandan, ND “Chicken Dance” line covered twenty-four city blocks and was 1.627 miles long.
  • Swiss accordian player Werner Thomas created the song and corresponding dance in the 1950s.
  • The name of the original Swiss song was “Der Ententanz,” or “The Duck Dance.”
  • More than 140 versions of the song have been recorded, selling a whopping 40 million copies worldwide.
  • The dance first came to the United States in 1981 during Oktoberfest celebrations in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A German band wanted to demonstrate the dance in costume for a local TV station, but a duck costume could not be located, so a chicken costume was used. Hence, chicken dance instead of duck dance.


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