Bump ‘n’ grind is a classic Burlesque subgenre. Discover the history, basic movements, typical music and the classical dance costumes associated with this burlesque style.

The origin of Bump and Grind

Bump and grind dance moves are inspired by bellydance, more specifically by the 3 belly dancers of Little Egypt and their ‘Hootchy Kootchy’ show ‘The Streets Of Cairo’ in 1893 at the World’s Fair in America. The dance style can be described just as the dancers were announced at the world exhibition: “When she dances, every fiber and every tissue in her entire anatomy shakes like a jar of jelly from your grandmother’s Thanksgiving dinner”.

The ‘exposed’ bellies and trembling boobs and behinds shocked the American people and inspired many Burlesque artists to create their own style. Classic belly dance moves and costumes were reimagined when combined with the signature cheeky Burlesque facial expression and comic elements. The Burlesque Bump ‘n’ grind style became very popular, especially in the 1950s and is still popular today.

Bump and Grind Burlesque

Lilith D’Licious bump ‘n grind gif

Burlesque bump ‘n grind is an energetic style with a right-in-your-face attitude. It revolves around fluent hip movements, sprinkled with fierce accents and vibrating bodyparts. On one hand you have the bumps, short and strong hip movements to the beat of the music/drum. These movements can be made sideways, backwards and forwards with the hips/pelvis. Especially the latter is very typical of the style and immediately gives the dance a naughty side. On the other hand, you have grinds, which is slang for “an erotic rotation of the hips and pelvis”. This circular and flowy hip movement makes the dance very feminine and suitable for slower musical pieces. In addition, other belly dance moves are used, such as shimmies with breasts and behinds as well as classic Burlesque moves and comic elements. Bump ‘n’ grind involves playing with high and low movements and also dancing in a squatting position. You can vary the classic bump ‘n’ grind moves in different ways (standing, squatting, bending over).

Bump ‘n’ grind is a very musical style with playful rythms. A good bump ‘n’ grind song has a strong beat, interspersed with slower musical parts. Also by playing with the rhythms, such as a slow bump or a few quick bumps in succession, you can vary smoothly and make the choreography more challenging. Curious about a classic bump ‘n’ grind song? Then listen to ‘Bumps and grind by Sonny Lester Orcherstra’.

Sherry Britton – Bump and grind

Bump and Grind Burlesque costumes & icons

The Bump ‘n’ Grind performers of the golden era in Burlesque wore extravagant and heavily decorated evening gown with long gloves, which were taken off during the early slower part of the act. Most of the act was danced in a traingle bra (without an underwire), a matching thong and a panel skirt to finish it off. Sometimes several panel skirts were worn above eachother, often with a matching shimmy belt (like belly dancers). The costumes usually contain fringes and flowy fabrics that emphasize both the flowing and strong movements.

Tempest Storm en Betty Rowland “Ball Of Fire” are well-known icons of the 1940s-50s and known for their bump and grinding.

Bump and Grind basics ep0: Intro (English)

Bitten by Bump ‘n grind?

  • Do you want to learn how to shimmy and shake like Thanksgiving jelly, or give energy and attitude to your choreographies? Then be sure to follow the Bump ‘n’ Grind themed workshop by Lilith D’Licious.
  • Learn the basics with our online Bump ’n‘ Grind miniseries.
  • Missing a beautifully tailored lingerie set with matching panel skirt to give you that great belly dance Burlesque fusion vibe? Then learn the tricks of the trade with costumer Miss Smartie.
    • Make your own panel skirt under the guidance of Miss Smartie.
    • Learn to make your own lingerie set under the guidance of Miss Smartie

Have fun, just shimmy & shake!

Lilith D’Licious
Headmistress of Sinners Dollhouse

The costumes of burlesque – Coleen Scott

The burlesque handbook by Jo Weldon
Pretty things by Liz Goldwyn
Burlesque, the art of tease by Dita Von Teese