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Bust a Move

10 Awesome Dance Aerobics Scenes from ’80s Movies

Catch Footloose during IFC's '80s Weekend July 29-31st.

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Photo Credit: Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

Anyone who grew up in the 1980s remembers Jane Fonda’s workout videos, which featured the Academy Award-winning actress in leotards and leg-warmers leading viewers through a series of aerobic exercises. Coupled with films like Flashdance and Footloose, the Jane Fonda Workout helped usher in a rad aerobics and dance craze that lasted throughout the decade and influenced everything from fashion to music to film. To celebrate IFC’s ’80s Weekend, we decided to share a few of our favorite dance and aerobics scenes from ’80s films. Throw on your favorite leg-warmers and get ready to break a sweat!

1. Flashdance

Paramount Pictures and PolyGram
Paramount Pictures and PolyGram

Has there ever been a better film about a welder-by-day-dancer-by-night? Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) dreams of being a serious dancer at the Pittsburg Dance & Repertory Company, but alas, she has no formal training beyond her frenzied aerobics sessions set to “Maniac” and her job dancing at Mawby’s Bar. Though Flashdance features quite a few seriously impressive dance numbers (“Manhunt” comes to mind thanks to Cynthia Rhodes’ acrobatics and insane amount of body glitter), the best is still Alex’s iconic audition set to Irene Cara’s hit song “Flashdance…What a Feeling” complete with leaps, flips, break dancing (!), and some seriously big hair.


2. Fame

MGM and United Artists

These days, Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton cause traffic jams daily on Broadway, but back in 1980, the only performers stopping traffic were the fictional students at the New York High School of Performing Arts. When aspiring composer Bruno refuses to play his music publicly, his taxi driver father blasts it out to everyone on 46th St from the speakers of his cab, causing the leotard-clad students to wildly leap on top of cars and dance throughout the street. Well, that’s ONE way to get people to “remember your name.”


3. Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo

The Cannon Group and TriStar Pictures
The Cannon Group and TriStar Pictures

Possibly the most unnecessary of all unnecessary sequels and the inspiration for an enduring pop culture cliché, Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo may be short on plot and character development, but if you’re watching it for those things, you’re doing it wrong. It’s the dancing and extremely dated hip hop outfits (okay and an appearance by rapper-turned-Law & Order: SVU detective Ice-T) that matter, and in these areas, Breakin’ 2 really delivers.

Whether it’s a gang dance fight with nunchucks (!), popping and locking on the ceiling, or donning berets and harem pants for a celebratory final routine, Breakin’ 2 is actually a pretty solid (dare we say…ELECTRIC?) dance flick in the vein of an overly-long episode of So You Think You Can Dance that is actually supposed to be about saving a community center from bulldozers


4. Perfect

Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

Before there was Tinder, apparently aerobics classes were the way people hooked up in the ’80s, at least according to the plot of the totally inane, guilty pleasure Perfect. While in town working on a story about drug dealers, Rolling Stone journalist Adam (John Travolta) begins investigating the singles’ scene at the L.A. gym where Jessie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is an aerobics instructor. A lot of manic jumping, hip gyrations, and sweaty pelvic thrusts later, is it any wonder Adam and Jessie wind up finding romance? Also, the workout actually ain’t bad either. High-cut leotard is totally optional.


5. White Nights

Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

If you can look past the implausibility of Gregory Hines’ character willingly defecting to Soviet Russia for tap dancing jobs, White Nights is actually a great dance-thriller, which is a seriously underutilized film genre in our opinion. And because this is the ’80s, the best way for Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov’s character to distract their Soviet captors is obviously by performing a smooth jazz/karate-inspired dance choreographed by Twyla Tharp. Though ballet superstar Baryshnikov and tap legend Hines couldn’t be more different apart, together they make a pretty dynamic duo. The song may be called “Prove Me Wrong,” but this is one pairing that feels oh-so-right.


6. Footloose

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Yeah, everyone FINALLY “cuts loose” at the end of this classic flick about a town where dancing is banned, but we’re partial to Ren’s angry meltdown in an empty warehouse. When just driving to the middle of nowhere in your yellow VW bug, smoking a cigarette, and drinking don’t calm your adolescent angst, why not just put on a cassette tape and run, swing, jump, kick, and flip your way through a dangerous abandoned warehouse instead? It’s a bit like watching a manic Olympic gymnastics routine, but it’s hard not to love Kevin Bacon giving it his all. (Click here to see all airings of Footloose on IFC.)


7. Dirty Dancing

Lionsgate

Pretty much everyone had the time of their lives watching Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) dance and romance in the Catskills all through the summer of ’63. In the grand ’80s movie tradition of dancing for your rights (see also: Footloose), Johnny makes a big entrance at the end-of-summer show as a protest for being unfairly fired, pulling Baby firmly out of the corner and onto the floor for a sexy ballroom number complete with that iconic over-the-head lift. The dancing may be “dirty,” but really, it’s just good, clean fun.


8. Girls Just Want to Have Fun

New World Pictures
New World Pictures

Before she was kicking up her heels as Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker was just a Catholic school girl named Janey with a dream of dancing on TV in Chicago. In yet another ’80s movie about dads not being cool with their daughters dancing (ahem, see also Footloose, Dirty Dancing), Janey’s conservative military father forbids her from competing with her dreamy partner Jeff (Lee Montgomery) for a spot on Dance TV. The two compete anyway with a seriously athletic routine full of tumbling, lifts, and spins while Janey’s dad watches backstage and comes to his senses about the whole thing. If only we could say the same thing about everyone’s hilariously bad ’80s outfits.


9. Risky Business

Warner Bros
Warner Bros.

Who hasn’t gotten a little too drunk and danced around their living room in just their underwear? High school senior Joel does just that (and much, MUCH more) during a parent-free weekend at home. With a single iconic slide in socks, tighty-whiteys, a button-down, and Ray-Bans to the opening strains of “Old Time Rock and Roll,” Tom Cruise instantly became a full-fledged movie star and inspired frat boy Halloween costumes for years to come. If the whole “risky business” brothel idea doesn’t work out, maybe Joel has a future in show business instead.


10. Heavenly Bodies

This “dancercize” cult classic was co-produced by Playboy, which explains a lot about the overabundance of exercise and sex scenes and the wooden dialogue. However, the choreography and soundtrack are totally killer, as is lead actress/dancer Cynthia Dale who effortlessly high kicks and jumps her way through every routine. Heavenly Bodies may technically be a B-movie, but its dancers and dance numbers are pretty A-worthy.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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SistersWeekend_103_MPX-1920×1080

WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

IFC_Comedy-Crib_Sisters-Weekend-Series-Image

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

SistersWeekend_101_MPX-1920x1080

IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

IFC_Comedy-Crib_Sisters-Weekend_About-Image

IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

SistersWeekend_102_MPX-1920x1080

IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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