18 Dance Songs From the '90s That Still Get the Party Started

The '90s brought us a bevy of girl-power anthems courtesy of acts like the Spice Girls, trendsetting songs replete with their very own dances ("La Macarena," anyone?), synthesizer-heavy Eurodance tracks, and the Latin pop boom (led by Ricky Martin, of course!). 

We may look back and chuckle at some of the songs we jammed to in the '90s, but at the time, they were certified party starters — and, believe it or not, a fair amount of these still hold up today! Check out some of the era's most unforgettable pop and dance hits.

 

Image via Shuttertock/G. Campbell

  • "Wannabe" by Spice Girls

    1

    The world was introduced to the Spice Girls via 1996's "Wannabe," and the song quickly became the best-selling single by a girl group ever. The group members' spunky personalities, the tune's exuberant energetic, the cheerleader-esque chants, and the emphasis on what females "really, really want" made "Wannabe" a tide-turning girl-power anthem.

  • "Macarena" by Los Del Rio

    2

    The Hillary Clinton shimmy may have become meme fodder after the first presidential debate, but back at the 1996 Democratic National Convention, Clinton was jamming to the "Macarena" by Los Del Rio. The catchy song, and its accompanying dance routine, was everywhere in the summer of '96. On August 16, 1996, over 50,000 baseball fans at Yankee Stadium boogied to the tune, setting the record for the most people dancing to the "Macarena." 

  • "Livin' La Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin

    3

    Remember the Latin pop explosion of 1999? Well, Ricky Martin lit the fire for the big boom with his smash hit "Livin' La Vida Loca," which featured Latin percussion rhythms and horn riffs mixed with surf rock–inspired guitar riffs that, together, made for a hip-swiveling masterpiece. 

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  • "Genie in a Bottle" by Christina Aguilera

    4

    Just as listeners were ready to crown Britney Spears as the princess of pop, Christina Aguilera arrived on the scene with 1999's "Genie in a Bottle" and made her bid for the throne. Unlike Spears, whose lyrics were still relatively tame, Aguilera treaded the line between clean and dirty, with a lustier sound and provocative lyrics like, "I'm a genie in a bottle, baby/Gotta rub me the right way, honey." 

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  • "All That She Wants" by Ace of Base

    5

    Sure, we all loved the sunny optimism of Ace of Base's "The Sign," but the reggae-pop beat and flutes of "All That She Wants" — not to mention the lyrics about a Man Eater on the hunt for her next prey — made it a sultrier, naughtier party tune choice.

  • "We Like to Party!" by Vengaboys

    6

    This Eurodance song beckoned anyone that listened to hop aboard the Vengaboys' metaphoric Venga bus and take the nonstop party on the road. With a tempo of 136 bpm, "We Like to Party" got bodies on the dance floor double-time!

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  • "Vogue" by Madonna

    7

    Whenever "Vogue" came on, every girl wanted to prove that, like the Hollywood icons listed in the song, she too had style and grace and "gave good face." Holding a dramatic pose and emulating the face-framing arm movements Madonna showcased in the song's music video became an art form.

  • "Barbie Girl" by Aqua

    8

    Before Nicki Minaj was rapping about being a Harajuku Barbie, Lene Nystrøm of the Danish-Norwegian dance group Aqua was singing about life in plastic being fantastic. For a few minutes when this catchy tune came on, all girls got to pretend they were living in the Dreamhouse and riding around in a pink convertible, singing, "You can brush my hair/undress me everywhere/Imagination, life is your creation."

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  • "Rhythm Is a Dancer" by Snap!

    9

    German Eurodance group Snap! ruled the charts in 1992 with "Rhythm Is a Dancer," an infectious, synth-heavy track with soaring, soulful vocals exalting the healing powers of dance over a thumping beat. 

  • "(You Drive Me) Crazy" by Britney Spears

    10

    Though "...Baby One More Time" was Britney Spears's breakout hit, the anthemic "(You Drive Me) Crazy" was an even more efficient party-starter with its uptempo beat, booming synths, syncopated bells, and sing-along chorus — not to mention Brit's coquettish vocals. 

  • "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" by Crystal Waters

    11

    The organ chord progression and "la-da-dee, la-da-da" chorus of Crystal Water's 1991 house hit "Gypsy Woman" are still iconic 25 years later. Though it was a dance-driven track, "Gypsy Woman" had an element of melancholy to it given the lyrics, which reference a disheveled homeless woman singing for money, begging, and looking for her makeup. Since its release, "Gypsy Woman" has been sampled by everyone from rapper T.I. to singers Alicia Keys and Nick Brewer. 

  • "Believe" by Cher

    12

    Forget T-Pain — the first commercially released song to incorporate Auto-Tune was Cher's 1998's dance-pop hit "Believe." The software was used to slightly distort Cher's vocals and to create a sped-up vocal echo. The synths and drum machines, meanwhile, add to the theatricality of the club banger, which has a luminous and triumphant energy that complement the lyrics about persevering and thriving after a tough breakup. 

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  • "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" by Backstreet Boys

    13

    Produced by Max Martin, Backstreet Boys' 1997 smash "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" rocked our bodies right. As with Michael Jackson's "Thriller," the song's campy, horror film–inspired music video  — and the chorographed dance therein — added to its appeal.

  • "Groove Is in the Heart" by Deee-Lite

    14

    Though it was released in 1990, Deee-Lite's "Groove Is in the Heart" captured the energy and vibe of the 1960s — down to the psychedelic visuals in the accompanying music video. A musical ray of sunshine, the song was a brilliant mash-up of samples: the bass loop from Herbie Hancock's "Bring Down the Birds," the drum loop from Vernon Burch's funk classic "Get Up," the drum break from Ray Barretto's "Right on Barreto Power," a funky tambourine sound (a sample from a Tina Turner performance), and more. When we heard Lady Miss Kier's vocals and Q-Tip's rap, the groove was in our hearts.

  • "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred

    15

    If Derek Zoolander had been around in the '90s, he would've sung "I'm Too Sexy" about himself. The hysterical dance track was sung from the perspective of a narcissistic male model who was "too sexy" for his shirt, his car, his hat, his cat, and pretty much everything else.  

  • "Waiting for Tonight" by Jennifer Lopez

    16

    To this day, some music critics consider 1999's "Waiting for Tonight" to be Jennifer Lopez's greatest work. The salsa-flavored percussion peppered throughout the dance-pop hit added to the sultry vibe of Lopez's lust-filled lyrics. 

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  • "Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of...)" by Lou Bega

    17

    German singer Lou Bega wanted a little bit of Monica, a little bit of Erica, a little bit of Rita, a little bit of Tina ... and, well, you get the point! Built around a sample of Pérez Prado's "Mambo No. 5," the 1999 hit added a touch of funk and jive to the mambo classic with its synth and percussion riffs.  

  • "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" by C+C Music Factory

    18

    It was impossible to ignore Martha Wash when she belted out the phrase "Everybody dance now" on C+C Music Factory's dance hit "Gonna Make You Sweat." Her powerful post-disco vocal style and Freedom Williams's rap-like verses, combined with a catchy beat that fused hip-hop, house, and electronica elements, took this song all the way to No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1990.

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