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The Achy Breaky Heart dance craze of 1992, revisited

The Achy Breaky Heart was more than an early-'90s, country music earworm. Because it was a dance craze, too.

'It's not enough just to hum the tune any more. Now you gotta know the moves'

'Achy Breaky-ed out' in St. John's

Music

28 years agoVideo
0:15
Dance instructor Judy Knee talks about the Achy Breaky dance craze in 1992. 0:15

Achy Breaky Heart was more than an early-'90s, country music earworm — it was a dance craze, too.

In Newfoundland, the line-dancing craze was in full swing in the fall of 1992.

"Achy Breaky Dance Fever is sweeping North America," claimed a report from Deborah Collins, which aired on CBC's Midday on Oct. 23, 1992.

"It's not enough just to hum the tune any more. Now you gotta know the moves."

The dance was synchronized to the Billy Ray Cyrus version of the song, which had already sold more than three million copies of by that point in the year, according to the Midday report.

The song had been written the year before and recorded by another artist before Cyrus had a smash hit with it.

Billy Ray Cyrus, seen in a 2008 photo, sang the version of Achy Breaky Heart that drove a big dance trend in 1992. (Evan Agostini/Associated Press)

"How did he do it?" Collins asked viewers. "By taking your standard broken heart, wrapping it in a catchy tune and adding a two-step to stardom."

The hot trend had spurred Judy Knee to spend her summer in the U.S. learning the Achy Breaky and other popular dance moves, which she then taught to students at her St. John's studio.

'Achy Breaky-ed out'

Step-by-step: How to do the Achy Breaky

Music

28 years agoVideo
0:52
Judy Knee teaches students how to do the Achy Breaky back in 1992. 0:52

By October, she'd taught a lot of Newfoundlanders how to break out their inner-Billy Ray Cyrus on the dance floor.

"Even the children coming to the dance classes, everybody wants to learn how to do the Achy Breaky," Knee told CBC.

"So, I'm teaching the Achy Breaky to everybody. [I'm] Achy Breaky-ed out."

Collins finished her report by noting that no one could say how long Achy Breaky Heart and its accompanying line dance would stick around.

"But one thing's for sure: A broken heart has never been so much fun," she said.

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