Gimme a Beat! 5 Iconic Dance Breaks to Learn in Isolation

What better way to stay sane—and fit—than by mastering some notoriously intricate choreography? And a 5-6-7-8!

With time but an illusion—and the hours melting into days into “When did I last shower?”—self-isolation is wearing thin. How can we maintain our sanity and keep it tight so that we’re ready when the social distancing guidelines inevitably lift and society gets down to the serious task of boning our quarantined brains out? By dancing, of course!

Pop stars, DJs, and Lisa Rinna have all been doing their part to keep us dancing in these cooped-up times, making Instagram the hottest club this side of, well, anywhere. So what better time than now to hone your moves with some of the most challenging choreo ever ’graphed?

Below we’ve pulled together five of our favorite routines. They are incredibly hard, so they’ll take up plenty of time should you need a distraction. They’re also great workouts if you’re feeling antsy. Most important, they involve a lot of hair-flipping, so you might as well dust off those wigs and go in, kids.

And a 5,6,7—hit it!

Janet Jackson – “If”

Naturally, we’ll start off with the queen of dance breaks, one Miss Janet Damita Jo Jackson, and her greatest—if not the greatest—break of all time, 1993’s “If.”

After Miss Jackson first tutted across that stage in the video’s Japanese retro-futuristic sex brothel, gays were never the same.

Anytime this song comes on in any venue or establishment—and this is a scientific fact—a herd of homosexuals will storm the floor and perform the routine in its entirety before slinking back to whatever vodka-soda-soaked hole they came from. It’s called solidarity.

Britney Spears – “I’m a Slave 4 U”

Remember when Britney used to actually dance? It was a brief period, from about 1998 to 2005, before things took an unfortunate turn, but during that time she was really doing it as an heir apparent to Janet’s throne.

She debuted the song in an instantly iconic 2001 MTV Video Music Awards performance featuring none other than Tiger King’s resident not-doctor Doc Antle, before releasing the sultry video a few weeks later.

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Call the police.

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Ah, 2001. Such a different time. Such a weird, different time.

Paula Abdul – “Cold Hearted”

Paula Abdul’s pop reign may have been short-lived, but she’ll always be remembered as one of the finest hoofers we’ve ever had.

Don’t give yourself vertigo from all these pirouettes, but do give yourself enough room so that if and when you do fall over, you don’t take out a lamp en route to the carpet.

The Pussycat Dolls – “React”

The Pussycats, at the behest of absolutely no one, came roaring back in 2020 with this infectious single, featuring enough hair flips to give even the most seasoned drag queen whiplash.

Maybe avoid getting your living room wet, but if you try this out in the shower instead, be careful.

And for the love of Nicole Scherzinger, wear a shower shoe and not a stiletto. No one likes a hero.

Beyoncé – “Diva (Everybody Mad)”

What better way to close out this dance tutorial than with the fiercest 50 seconds ever committed to film: Queen Bey’s epic break to O.T. Genasis’ “Everybody Mad,” made famous during the cultural milestone known as Beychella.

You can just tell from Bey’s smirk that she knew she was about to snatch every single flower crown in that crowd.

And the Hive followed suit, sending the dance into the viral stratosphere, forever reminding us that to slay is human, but Beyoncé is divine.

Lester Fabian Brathwaite is an LA-based writer, editor, bon vivant, and all-around sassbag. He's formerly Senior Editor of Out Magazine and is currently hungry. Insta: @lefabrat