The Twist pretty much dominated the dance scene from 1960 through at least 1962. Dick Clark, of course, deserves much of the credit for his role in having Chubby Checker record the song then pushing it on American Bandstand, but the song (and dance) actually has its roots well before Checker's version first hit the charts.
Here's a series of videos that illustrates just some of The Twist's lineage.
Songs mentioning twisting date back many decades, but here's one from the early years of television, an abbreviated version of Ballin' the Jack by Dagmar in 1951:
There is debate in some circles about who actually wrote the lyrics to The Twist, but Buster Bennett should deserve some credit for "look at sis, out in the backyard doin' that twist" since that phrase was used in his 1946 recording of I Want to Woogie Woogie:
As Hank Ballard and his guitarist, Cal Green, worked on the lyrics and music that would become the Twist, they borrowed the melody from an earlier Midnighters recording, Is Your Love For Real ...:
... which sounded similar to a 1954 recording by Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters, Whatcha Gonna Do:
The Midnighters recorded The Twist twice in 1958 - in Miami in March and in Cincinnati in November, the recording for King records that was the B-side of Teardrops on Your Letter. Here's the King version of The Twist by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters:
Dick Clark asked old pal Bernie Lowe of Cameo-Parkway to come up with a version of The Twist that would be more palatable for his American Bandstand audience than the original, which was done by a guy better known for his Annie trilogy - Work With Me Annie, Annie Had a Baby and Sexy Ways. What Lowe and a&r man Dave Appell came up with was the note-for-note clone of Ballard's song by Chubby Checker:
Author Larry Lehmer is writing a book about the Philadelphia years of American Bandstand. The book is called Bandstandland. It has lots of details about the show you've never read before. If you have any stories about American Bandstand or Dick Clark that you'd like to share in the book, contact Larry.