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Doing the Ice Worm Wiggle

Juneau’s Very Own Dance Fad

Originally conceived in 1937 by Marie Lysing Johnson—with music and lyrics by Carol Beery Davis, who later became state poet laureate—this five-step partner dance takes its name from Mesenchytraeus solifugus, a tiny indigenous glacier worm known for swarming (and wiggling) on the ice’s surface at night.

Here’s how it goes: with a slow but exuberant fox-trot tempo, partners circle counter-clockwise, arms joined, ladies to the outside. Dancers also run in place, swing their arms, shuffle their feet and shout “Yippee!”

Okay, so this particular dance sensation never quite swept the nation. Still, the Ice Worm Wiggle was all the rage in local bars, and a great example of the time-honored Juneau tradition of making our own entertainment.