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What’s behind the (stealthily counterculture) 'Pink Shoelaces' TikTok dance trend going viral?

What’s behind the Pink Shoelaces TikTok dance trend going viral?
What’s behind the Pink Shoelaces TikTok dance trend going viral? Copyright Amazon Studios
Copyright Amazon Studios
By David Mouriquand
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TikTokers may have embraced a new dance craze... But do they know quite how powerful the counterculture song they're dancing to really was?

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It’s a pattern that repeats like clockwork.

Every few months, a new dance routine takes social media - specifically, TikTok - by storm.

Last year, all you could see were people recreating the Wednesday dance from the eponymous hit Netflix show. The Bob Fosse / Siouxsie Sioux-inspired dance sequence set to the tune of ‘Goo Goo Muck’ by The Cramps, brilliantly payed homage to the original Wednesday Addams (Lisa Loring)’s dance in the 1964 TV series. It went viral, with the original soundtrack by The Cramps disappointingly replaced by a sped-up version of Lady Gaga’s 2011 song ‘Bloody Mary’.

Well, move aside, Wednesday, as for several weeks now, everyone’s been lacing up their dancing shoes to a new dance craze: The 'Pink Shoelaces' trend from the show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Amazon Studios
The Pink Shoelaces dance sequence from The Marvelous Mrs. MaiselAmazon Studios

For those of you playing catch-up, the Golden Globe-winning Amazon show is a heightened period comedy created by Amy Sherman-Palladino. Set in the late 50s / early 60s, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel stars Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam “Midge” Maisel, an affluent Jewish housewife living in New York, who discovers a talent for stand-up comedy and risks her marriage and family life to pursue her talent.

The show ended after five seasons on 26 May - two days before Succession and four before Ted Lasso (have they been coordinating to give viewers a reason to start spiralling?) - and fans are already reminiscing.

They’re doing so by harking back to a dance sequence that occurred during Season 2, Episode 9, titled “Vote Kennedy, Vote Kennedy” (which aired on 5 December 2018). During the episode, Midge gets her first television appearance on a fundraising telethon, and nothing goes according to plan. When she makes her way onto the TV studio set, a dance troupe are performing a number to the song ‘Pink Shoelaces’, by The Chordettes.

@AlleyKerr_ was the first to recreate the dance back in 2021 and the rest of the internet seems to have caught up, with countless accounts showing off their take on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel dance challenge and attempting to recreate the choreography by the wonderful Marguerite Derricks.

You can find some of the best videos here, including one which loops a bizarre meta loop which features creator @Kausha_Capbell performing the Pink Shoelaces routine dressed as Wednesday Adams

The trend has become increasingly popular among younger generations, and it’s no bad thing.

Firstly, because it’s probably the best one yet and those retro dance moves are to die for.

Secondly, because it is hopefully introducing a new generation to a rebellion song they weren’t aware of.

That’s right, the original song, sung by 50s/60s legend Dodie Stevens and released in 1958, is an anti-war / anti-conformity / counterculture anthem. 

'Pink Shoelaces' reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold more than a million copies. The song is about the singer’s crush, Dooley, whose fashion sense and lifestyle set him apart from other boys. He wears "tan shoes with pink shoelaces, a polka-dot vest (...) and a big Panama with a purple hatband” and takes his squeeze “deep sea fishing in a submarine" and to "drive-in movies in a limousine".

The song goes on to recount how Dooley enlisted in “a fightin’ corps” (the army) and lands in “the brig” (military prison) for “raisin’ such a storm when they tried to put ‘em in a uniform.”

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As the song ends, we’re told that Dooley “started feelin' sick” and decides to write out a will, requesting that “just before the angels come to carry me, I want it down in writin’ how to bury me” - ie: his kooky attire of choice.

With any luck, TikTokers have taken the time to appreciate how ‘Pink Shoelaces’ is a true celebration of the unconventional and staying true to oneself, in spite of societal pressures. Because make no mistake: Dodie Stevens walked so that Jim Morrison, Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine could run.

And thirdly, the current ubiquity of this dance trend is only a good thing because it will hopefully spark enough curiosity among listeners so that they may discover the wonder that were The Chordettes, who covered the song in 1959 and feature on the soundtrack of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. 

The Andrews Sisters may have been the original Girl Group back in the 1930s/40s, with hits like ‘Bei Mir Bist Du Schön (Means That You’re Grand)’, ‘Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But me)’ and ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’, but The Chordettes were hot on their tracks. The female quartet (the original line-up being Janet Ertel, Carol Buschmann, Jinny Osborne and Dorothy Schwartz) specialized in traditional pop music and are best known for their breakout hit song ‘Mr. Sandman’ (1954) and the brilliant (and downright filthy) 1958 song ‘Lollipop’.

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If you thought ‘Pink Shoelaces’ was an earworm, you’ve got another think coming.

The Chordettes were also rock stars and anti-conformist in their own ways: they wore off-the-shoulder dresses (gasp!), sang in the barbershop tradition of many male groups at the time (double gasp!) and became one of the most popular close-harmony singing groups of all time and the precursors of doo wop and rock’n’roll.

They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001 for their efforts, and still remain underappreciated to this day. 

If there’s any justice in the TikTok world (debatable, but one lives in hope), more of their songs will soundtrack future online crazes. #LongLiveTheChordettes.

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For the time being, always celebrate those with big Panamas with purple hatbands.

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