While Elvis Presley first garnered attention for his deep, soulful voice, The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll would later dance in a way that was beyond recognizable. He helped bring to light iconic moves like the Pole Dance, The Pelvis, and The Slide.
However, his “Rubber Legs” are amongst his most recognizable.
He could shake his legs and swing his hips in an outright scandalous way for people, during that time period. Before Presley, dance moves during the 1950s were far more reserved in mainstream entertainment.
Although we consider Presley’s dancing to be fun and unique now, he didn’t really think much of it.
“Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do ’em all together, I guess,” Elvis Presley once said regarding his dancing, according to an Instagram post from his estate.
While many screaming fans adored the way Presley performed on the stage, others were skeptical about what his “suggestive” dancing could suggest to younger people.
In fact, Elvis Presley was once censored while appearing on one of the most popular variety shows at the time, “The Ed Sullivan Show.” In 1957, Presley appeared on the show on three different occasions.
During his very last performance, he was censored by “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
The camera executives would only film him from the waist up. Presley was considered to do the most damage when he was shaking his legs and frantically thrusting his hips. Ed Sullivan and the show had received many complaints about his dance moves during the first two appearances on the show. Some of the older generations found Presley and his dancing to be incredibly problematic.
Despite all that, his very first appearance on the show actually had an audience of 60 million viewers, which was a record in viewership at the time. The Beatles’ debut performance eventually beat that in 1964 with 73 million viewers.
Elvis Presley Discusses His Dance Moves
Elvis Presley was aware that his dance moves had caused quite the stir in society at the time.
In a September 29, 1956 issue of TV Guide, Presley talked about his expressive dance moves and what he truly meant by them.
“Naw, sir. I don’t like them to call me Elvis the Pelvis. It’s the most childish expression I ever heard from an adult. Elvis the Pelvis. And another thing. I don’t roll my — what they call ‘pelvic gyrations’ — my pelvis has nothing to do with what I do. I just — I get rhythm with the music … jump around to it because I enjoy what I’m doing. I’m not trying to be vulgar, not trying to stimulate [sic] 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,” Presley said in the interview, according to TV Insider.
His controversy only added to his success and his ability to grab people’s attention. He is the best-selling male solo artist of all time.