For as popular as it was during much of the first half of the 20th century, couples dancing seemed poised to go by the wayside of American popular culture by the early 1970s. That is, until the arrival of a dance called the Hustle along with a #1 song by the same name. On this day in 1975, Van McCoy’s “The Hustle” topped the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Soul Singles charts simultaneously, signaling the beginning of the disco era.
“The Hustle” would earn Van McCoy a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and give him the biggest hit by far of his tragically shortened career (he died of a heart attack in 1979). The impact of the record went well beyond its commercial success, however. As “The Hustle” climbed the pop charts, it took an already substantial dance craze and turned it into a cultural phenomenon, with variations like the Latin, the Line and the New York Hustles popping up on dance floors nationwide.