Dance Like a Chicken Day

(Also known as Chicken Dance Day, National Chicken Dance Day, National Dance Like a Chicken Day)

Dance Like a Chicken Day is observed next on Sunday, May 14th, 2023 (53 days from today).

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May 14th is Dance like a Chicken Day, the goofy holiday celebrates the silly dance that is accompanied by the Chicken Song or the Chicken Dance Song.

We've all seen it; it's completely ridiculous and is often performed in a drunken state. You stick your hand in your arm pit to create "wings," and then you flap like a well-timed idiot with some particularly pitiful music. All that aside, you can totally chuckle with a bunch of your friends while you behave the way the local sanatorium keeps an eye on you for membership.

What are we talking about? Chicken Dance of course! National Dance like a Chicken Day celebrates this dance and its origins and even gives you a chance to find out WHY anyone would do this horrible, horrible thing.

History of Dance like a Chicken Day

The person credited with writing the first version of the song 'The Chicken Dance', which has become an almost global cultural phenomenon today, is a young Swiss accordionist. Si's name is Werner Thomas. It was in the late 1950s that he was playing hit tunes on his Swiss accordion when he was only 20 years old. The song was originally titled 'Der Ententanz,' or 'The Duck Dance,' which we can only assume is because of him tending to a flock of ducks and geese. Some say it was written for Oktoberfest, and was modeled after a famous German drinking song.

‘The Duck Dance’ debuted at Thomas restaurant in 1963 when people started to animate the duck-inspired dance moves we all know today. As if they couldn't help but turn to music! In the 1970s, Thomas renamed the song 'Tchirp-Tchirp', which was even more evocative of the animals he cared for. For more than a decade, the first Chicken Dance song existed only in a tiny Swiss resort town.

After hearing Thomas' song in a resort, Belgian music producer Louis Van Rymenant added the lyrics and released it to the public. Of course, it worked. By the 1970s, 'The Duck Dance' had spread to the US, with signature dance moves to follow. In the United States, September Music Corporation bought the rights and changed the name to 'Dance Little Bird.' Stanley Mills, the publisher in charge of the song, actually tried to add the lyrics in English, but they never succeed.

In the 1980s, many renditions of the tune came out, from bands like De Electronica, a Dutch band that released an instrumental version, and another polka band - the song was featured on the album. Their name is “Hooked on Polkas!” Despite Mills' best efforts to get the song to top of the chart that simply didn't happen in the early 1980s.

However, in the late 1980s, Duck Dance was somehow colloquially renamed "The Chicken Dance", and appeared at events from Oktoberfests to birthdays. After Mills allowed the song to hit the dance track record, 'The Chicken Dance' went far beyond that genre. In the following decades, it was used for everything from advertising to karaoke and has performed well both on the charts and financially. Today, it is still very popular at all gatherings, and we all have nothing but love in our hearts for the silly tune.

Why National Dance like a Chicken Day?

Surely everyone is familiar with the famous Chicken Dance, in fact, most of us have done it at some point in our lives. The song that accompanies this popular dance originated in Switzerland and it came to America in the 70's and it quickly became a hit with Americans. The song has gone through many changes with different musicians adding their versions over time and it is now the most popular song played at all gatherings around the country.

The dance gives a feeling of excitement and happiness when you hear it. Surely everyone has a memory associated with this song. The oompah song automatically arouses your inner self and dances to the tune. For a song and dance form to gain such popularity it requires flashbacks and that's why we celebrate National Dance like a Chicken Day. It's a day to memorize this iconic song and dance and tune in to the tune.

Interesting facts about National Dance like a Chicken Day

  • Although the dance is called the Chicken Dance, it is derived from the Duck Dance or “Der Ententanz”, composed by an accordionist from Switzerland.
  • There have been nearly 140 recorded versions of the same song and to date nearly 40 million copies have been sold around the world.
  • When the song was released as "Dance Little Bird" or "De Vogeltjesdans" by the band De Electronica, it topped the charts in the top 10 for nearly 29 weeks. This happened in 1980; almost three decades after the original song came out.
  • If you're wondering how the Duck Dance came to be the Chicken Dance, believe in the Oktoberfest of 1981. German band Polka played "Dance Little Bird" and danced the Duck Dance in a chicken dress. It is said that they compromised on the chicken costume because there is no duck option.

What Inspired The Chicken Dance?

However, do you know what make Thomas would like to create the tune in the first place? What prompted him to come up with something so outlandish?

Thomas lived near a number of ski resorts throughout his life growing up. He regularly watched vacationers running on the slide, even since the 1950s. To Thomas, downhill people have always been like images of birds spitting. Their arms are to the side, and their elbows hug in, keeping the skateboard close to their body. Their technique was great, but Thomas couldn't help but notice how hilarious it was to watch. There are a lot of other rich and earning people here, walking around in the snow likes ducks. It was considered as a great opportunity that he couldn't miss in his life.

The way Thomas interprets their motion has a lot to do with his own experience. He thinks they are actually more like ducks than chickens, which is probably correct. Ducks have a special way of them reminiscent of skiers, especially when they stand upright and spread their wings.

Some reasons for National Dance like a Chicken Day being loved

  • It's fun!

Everyone has a fond memory of dancing to the song "The Chicken Dance Song". Even if you are an adult, when the oompah song plays, you will feel the urge to move! The chicken dance is fun no matter what age you are.

  • It brings back memories

We can all remember the excitement of hearing the song "The Chicken Dance Song" in our childhood, and happily clapping our hands and dancing to the music. Whether you remember it from summer camp, playing it in your high school band, or having a video of your daughter dancing to it when she was little, many of us can recall a happy memory attached to it with dance!

  • What a silly way to move!

Dispel your fear of shame and hit the dance floor! Dancing around are a great exercise (especially when the Chicken Dance gets up to speed) and a fun way to get your heart moving.

How to celebrate National Dance like a Chicken Day

  • Dance like a chicken

Of course 'The Chicken Dance Song'! Let's do the famous 'beak' and 'wing' choreography that we love from the 70s.

  • Dress up like a chicken

Feel like lifting it up? Don a chicken or just a beak made of paper. Now there is some dedication to National Dance like a Chicken Day.

  • Check out some polka dots

Essentially, 'The Chicken Dance Song' is a classic German oompah, closely related to polka and with the same tuba-heavy baseline. Although we don't listen to polka much anymore these days, we can make 'The Chicken Dance Song' less novel by adding some polka!


Dance Like a Chicken Day has been observed annually on May 14th.


Friday, May 14th, 2021

Saturday, May 14th, 2022

Sunday, May 14th, 2023

Tuesday, May 14th, 2024

Wednesday, May 14th, 2025

Also on Sunday, May 14th, 2023

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