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Creator Seeks to Preserve 'Electric Slide'

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Creator Seeks to Preserve 'Electric Slide'

Pop Culture

Creator Seeks to Preserve 'Electric Slide'

Creator Seeks to Preserve 'Electric Slide'

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The Electric Slide slithered out of '70s disco venues to global popularity. But choreographer Richard Silver says his creation has lost key steps in more recent representations. He's considering a suit to protect the artistic integrity of his dance.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

In the mid-1970s, a popular song promised to take you on a body ride and teach you the electric slide.

(Soundbite of song, "Electric Boogie")

Ms. MARCIA GRIFFITHS (Singer): (Singing) You can't resist it. It's electric boogie woogie woogie, you can't do without it, it's electric…

MONTAGNE: Over the years, people have been dancing the electric slide at parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, you name it. But the next time you move to the grove, be careful. You could be charged with illegal motion. The inventor of the dance, choreographer Richard Silver, is considering legal action to make sure the electric slide is danced correctly.

Mr. RICHARD SILVER (Choreographer, Creator of Electric Slide): It's a series of grapevines to the right, back to the left then straight back and then you step forward and touch and step back and touch and you repeat that step, which is what everybody has forgotten. They don't do the repeat step.

(Soundbite of song, "Electric Boogie")

Ms. GRIFFITHS: (Singing) And I'll teach you, teach you, teach you, I'll teach the electric slide.

MONTAGNE: There are supposed to be 22 steps to the dance because Richard Silver was born on January 22. Most people only do 18.

Mr. SILVER: When I started going to weddings to bar mitzvahs myself and getting on the dance floor to do the dance and people are coming up to me saying you're doing it wrong, I got very upset.

MONTAGNE: So what do you say? Excuse me, I invented it?

Mr. SILVER: Yes.

(Soundbite of song, "Electric Boogie")

Ms. GRIFFITHS: (Singing) You can't see it, it's electric, you got to feel it, it's electric.

MONTAGNE: Silver says there are thousands of videos online of people doing the wrong version of the Electric Slide. He owns the copyright to the dance and for ten years he's been writing Web sites and threatening to sue if the missteps are not removed.

Mr. SILVER: One group wrote back to me, who do you think you are? Get a life. That sort of irritated me.

MONTAGNE: But Richard Silver did not get mad, he got a lawyer.

Mr. ARNOLD LUTZER(ph) (Lawyer): I think he would have a very difficult case.

MONTAGNE: Arnold Lutzer is a lawyer who specializes in copyright issues. We ask him to review Richard Silver's case.

Mr. LUTZER: The critical legal concept is you can protect choreographic works. Social dance steps are not copyrightable. He has on his Web site words that lay out what the dance step looks like, but it's an extra legal step to go from those words to controlling the way people dance.

(Soundbite of song, "Electric Boogie")

Ms. GRIFFITHS: (Singing) You got to know it, it's electric boogie woogie woogie, that you can't hold it, it's electric boogie woogie woogie…

MONTAGNE: That's what a lawyer says. Richard Silver says he's not trying to get money from a lawsuit. He says there's a bigger issue at stake.

Mr. SILVER: The beginning of the song is it's electric, it's electric. So I created the dance so that people could enjoy it and do it and I don't want this going into history incorrectly.

(Soundbite of song, "Electric Boogie")

CHORUS: It's electric.

MONTAGNE: Singer, dancer, choreographer and by day accountant, Richard Silver.

(Soundbite of song, "Electric Boogie")

Ms. GRIFFITHS: (Singing) Gonna let me take you on a party ride, and I'll teach you, teach you, teach you, I'll teach you the electric slide.

MONTAGNE: And that's our last word in business for this MORNING's EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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