The Batusi

(1966)


Introduction

The Batusi is a 1960s novelty dance inspired by moves of Adam West in the premiere episode of the Batman TV show, "Hi Diddle Riddle."

Although there are some reports that the Batusi was created by Arthur Murray, West claims to have created the dance improvisationally in the car while learning his lines on the way to filming.

The name is a portmanteau of "bat" and "watusi." It was given this name in the recap at the beginning of Episode 2. It was also danced in the later Season 1 episode, "The Pharoah's in a Rut."


The Dance

To dance the Batusi, form a peace sign with the index and middle fingers, and move them across the eyes.

In the original version, West's palms faced his face, and his V-shaped fingers traced both eyes at the same time, from the center toward the outside. Following that, his V-shaped fingers traced his bat ears from bottom to top, palms facing out.

In later versions of the Batusi, such as John Travolta's interpretation in Pulp Fiction (1994), the palms face out, and one hand is moved all the way across the face before the other one goes all the way across the face the other way (i.e., the right hand passes across the face from left to right, then the left hand passes across the face from right to left).


The Music

The 1960s Batman theme by Neal Hefti is an appropriate choice.


Sources


© 2020 Nick Enge


For more, see our two books on dancing:
Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living (2013) by Richard Powers and Nick Enge,
and Cross-Step Waltz: A Dancer's Guide (2019) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge.


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