Cabbage patching

LORELAI: “Three months. Well, woohoo. Hold on, I’m going to cartwheel.”
RORY: Forget it.
LORELAI: Oh, no wait. She’s telling my dad now. Why, I think they’re cabbage patching.

Cabbage patching means to do the cabbage patch dance, a hip-hop dance where you put your hands together as fists and move them in horizontal circles. The dance features in the 1988 song The Cabbage Patch by Miami bass group Gucci Crew II, which became popular in dance clubs. The dance seems to have been inspired by Cabbage Patch Kids, the doll fad of the 1980s, combined with “cabbage” as slang for paper money. It’s a celebratory dance, often associated with sporting victories.

Roller Disco

LANE: I’m gonna get a soda, anybody want anything?
LORELAI: Yes, the night of my 14th birthday back so I can right the green-hot-pant-roller-disco outfit wrong.

A roller disco is a skating rink where the dancers wear roller skates to move to disco music (or any modern dance music). The concept originated in the 1970s and peaked around 1980, although they are still held now as retro entertainment.

Lorelai’s 14th birthday was in 1982, so she was already slightly behind the trends when she chose her roller disco outfit (it actually fits better with Amy Sherman-Palladino’s 14th birthday in 1980). It’s not clear whether her birthday was celebrated at a roller disco, or she just thought it would be a good outfit to wear to her party. Let’s hope the first one.

Cha-cha-cha

SOOKIE: This is about the time you start doing your little getaway dance. Two months right on the nose – you’re good.
LORELAI: I do not do a dance.
SOOKIE: You’re cha-cha-cha-ing right now.

The cha-cha-cha (or the cha-cha) is a Latin American dance which originated in Cuba in the 1950s. Sookie may be thinking of this dance in particular as it begins with the woman stepping backwards as the man walks forwards, just as Lorelai is backing away from Max.

Stairmaster

RORY: You just wanna hold a grudge.
LORELAI: Yes, it burns more calories.
RORY: That’s not true.
LORELAI: Yes it is, how do you think your grandma got those legs of hers? She’s not exactly a StairMaster gal.

StairMaster is an American company which makes exercise equipment, founded in 1983. Their first piece of equipment was a stair climbing machine.

Kelly Bishop, who plays Emily, got “those legs” of hers training in ballet, and working as a chorus line dancer for many years. We learn in the next season that Emily does in fact follow an exercise regimen to stay in shape.

Dances

LORELAI (after putting hairspray in Rory’s hair): OK, that will be good for six slow dances, four medium ones, one lambada, but if you plan on doing any moshing I suggest another coat.

A lambada is a sensual dance from Brazil which became popularised in the 1980s and ’90s, sometimes called “the forbidden dance” because of its sexy nature.

Moshing or slamdancing is an energetic, aggressive hardcore punk dance where you push or slam into the other dancers. The place near the stage where moshing is performed is called the moshpit.

Flashdance

Flashdance is a 1983 romantic drama film directed by Adrian Lyne, about a working class teenage girl (Jennifer Beals) who dreams of being a professional dancer. Flashdance was panned by critics, but a commercial success and the #3 movie of 1983.

The “Flashdance phase” is another time Lorelai believes she was wrong. In the movie, Jennifer Beals wears 1980s dancewear, such as a leotard and leg warmers topped with an oversized sweatshirt falling off her shoulders; her other iconic outfit is jeans with ripped knees and a white singlet top falling off her shoulders. These were popular fashion choices in 1983 (when Lorelai was 15) because of the film. For a while there, nobody could keep clothes on their shoulders or knees.

Tutu

LORELAI: OK, I need more tulle here. I need the feeling of a major tutu, OK?

A tutu is a traditional ballet dress, often made from tulle, which is a fabric made from lightweight fine netting.

Amy Sherman-Palladino herself was a ballet dancer, and had the chance to turn professional. She became a writer instead, but there are numerous references to ballet in Gilmore Girls, and her show Bunheads was based around the world of ballet.