Elvis Presley Didn’t Think His Dance Moves Were ‘Vulgar’: Here’s Why

by Madison Miller

While Elvis Presley’s hip-thrusting, leg shaking, and all-around vibrating dance moves shook up the 1950s, now it’s far from what is considered “vulgar.”

Elvis Presley is most known for moves like the Pole Dance, The Pelvis, and The Slide. However, it’s his “Rubber Legs” move that seems to have become the most everlasting.

Current Elvis impersonators will strike the infamous pose with a microphone and start frantically shaking their legs Presley style.

Elvis Presley Defends His Dancing

While certain groups of people found his moves outright scandalous, Presley didn’t really understand all the hype and negativity. In fact, most of his dance moves were accidental. It’s just how his body happened to move while feeling the music or getting past stage fright.

He once said, “I’m not trying to be vulgar, not trying to simulate sex. I just do a lot of wigglin’ and quiverin’, but I never do a bump or grind. I can’t sit still when I sing, so the kids can’t sit still.”

Back when dancing was far more conservative, Elvis Presley and his “gyrating” hips really stood out amongst other live performers. In fact, his performance on “The Milton Berle Show” in 1956 is considered one of the most controversial performances in television history.

According to the Graceland website, adult viewers, some of the religious community, and press publications tore apart his dancing. It was said to display “vulgarity” and “animalism.” For whatever reason, people were concerned that it would cause young people to act out in “delinquent” ways.

The Catholic Church once issued a weekly organ that had the headline, “Beware Elvis Presley.” Even Ed Sullivan was originally greatly against having him on “The Tonight Show.” He did eventually make a three-time appearance on the show and brought in millions of fans to watch. CBS, however, decided to censor Elvis Presley and only film him from the waist up during his third and last performance after getting some angry comments from viewers at home.

Elvis Presley Nearly Arrested

Elvis Presley had become very well-known for his iconic dance moves. He was even called “Elvis The Pelvis.” He hated the nickname.

While his soulful and original voice first got audiences to love him, Presley had grown to absolutely own the stage when he was performing.

In fact, his dance moves were considered so scandalous he almost got arrested for them. According to Collider, Presley was playing a sold-out show in Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles in 1957.

He was confronted by the police before the performance. They told him that he couldn’t gyrate his hips or make any suggestive movements. Even the local press was there to keep a close eye on him. The Los Angeles Vice Squad filmed the performance.

Seeing as dancing isn’t against the law, unless you’re living in a “Footloose” society, the police found nothing to validate incarcerating The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.