Swiss musician Werner Thomas wrote the music for the chicken dance in the 1970s. He titled it "Der Ententanz," or the duck dance, because he noticed people dancing to the music moving in a manner that reminded him of a duck. The dance was very popular in Germany. Since arriving in America, the chicken dance has become a tradition of thousands of wedding receptions each year.
The Duck Dance
"Der Ententanz" became known as the chicken dance in the United States starting in 1981 at a Tulsa Oktoberfest. A German group named the Heilbronn Band wanted to demonstrate the dance in a duck costume. They couldn't find a duck costume available for use, so they ended up using a chicken costume donated by a local television station. The dance struck a cord with festival visitors who referred to it as the chicken dance.
Traditional Oktoberfest Dance
Performing the chicken dance is a tradition at the biggest Oktoberfest around in Cincinnati, Ohio and, for some, it's also a requirement. Each year, the grand marshal of the festival must lead thousands of participants in a rendition of the chicken dance. This tradition even ended up earning a "largest group dance" honor in the 1995 through 1997 editions of "The Guinness Books of World Records." Several famous people have served in this capacity including, the Crown Prince of Bavaria, Vern Troyer of Austin Powers movies and cartoon character Homer Simpson.
Least Metal Moment in History
Vince Neil, vocalist for the rock metal band, Motley Crue, led the 2004 Cincinnati Oktoberfest chicken dance. This event was recorded and broadcast and was so unusual that VH1 declared it the "Least Metal Moment in History." Since the chicken dance is a Polka dance, this title is accurate. Future rock performers don't know it if VH1 plans on changing their nomination in response to non-metal moments.
National Chicken Dance Day
Each year, May 14th is the National Chicken Dance Day. There are no requirements for this holiday, except that of doing the chicken dance. The holiday is also known as National Dance Like a Chicken Day. In 2011, The Children's Museum in Seattle, Washington held a daylong series of events and dances in honor of the holiday. Children and their families could join in chicken dances held four different times during the day.