For the past couple years, it seems that every popular dance became well-known through social media and that every day while scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, it is possible to discover yet another viral dance. These dances represent a phenomenon that has been around for quite some time, the viral dance culture. Dances spreading through social events and interactions is nothing new, but the advent of social media provides a way for these dances to spread between populations at rates that have never been seen before. Even though the culture has been around almost forever and has given rise to hundreds of different dances, here are just seven dances that best represent the catalog of viral dance culture for the past couple years:
In 2014, the short-lived career of Brooklyn-based rapper Bobby Shmurda produced two things — the song “Hot N—a,” Shmurda’s most popular song to date, and its accompanying dance, the Shmoney dance. The dance became popularized by a short part in the song’s music video during which Shmurda throws his hat into the air, turns his back to the camera, and sways from side to side with a calm, punctuated swagger. The music video was already getting more and more popular by the month, but when that particular clip was combined with the now-defunct social media platform Vine, the song, video, and dance blew up immediately.
Nae Nae and Whip
The first of many dances to perfectly embody viral dance culture, the Nae Nae started first and then the Whip followed, once people realized how great the two dances go together. Atlanta’s dance hip-hop group We Are Toonz put out the hit song “Drop That Nae Nae” in 2013, a dance that was inspired by one of Martin Lawrence’s many cross-dressed characters and that popularized “nae nae circles” at dances and celebrations across the country. In the summer of 2015, Silento’s song “Watch Me” combined the Nae Nae with other dances like the Whip, and the song provided a fun easy dance routine that could be broken out at any type of function. As the song grew in popularity, eventually hitting mainstream airwaves and time on the Hot 100 list, so did all the dances associated with the Nae Nae and Whip, making both dances mainstays of the current viral dance culture.
Hit the Quan
“Hit the Quan” is the name of the song and dance brought to life by Tennessee rapper iLoveMemphis. Released in the fall of 2015, the song is fun but the dance is even more fun, requiring the person to “get down low and swing your arms,” as iLoveMemphis says in the song. The move is incredibly easy to combine with pretty much any other dance and as one of the funnier looking dances to perform, the “Hit the Quan” is dance that is sure to be able to liven up any type of party.
The dab was invented by Atlanta rapper Skippa da Flippa, but was most heavily popularized by Migos and their song “Look at My Dab.” Now, a bit less than two years after that song, everyone from Ellen to Desiigner has performed the dab, and it doesn’t look like people will be stopping anytime soon.
Running Man Challenge
At the beginning of 2016, the recreation of the Running Man dance seemed to become popular from out of nowhere, being performed and shared mainly by athletic teams around the country as groups would share them to social media as a dance “challenge.” This new-and-improved Running Man actually doesn’t bear much resemblance to the Running Man dance known to our parents — this one involved putting ones arms to their side and kind of shifting one’s weight from the balls of one’s foot to the other and staying in sync with the song. This song was also the first of its kind; it spread across the country in the form of a challenge that people would participate in by posting their own video to social media, and the song it is always performed to, “My Boo” by Ghost Town DJ’s, makes it easy to know whenever you need to put everything down and start recording the next Running Man challenge with all of your friends.
The Milly Rock, an easy dance that simply involves waving one’s arms and moving your body in rhythm, also seemed to have come from out of nowhere. The song that led to the eventual creation of the dance is “Milly Rock” by hip-hop artist 2 Milly, and after it was created, it received a lot of attention almost solely from social media. First it was because of Quinta B, the BuzzFeed personality who became popular for her video of “milly rocking” through China, Paris, and Egypt, proving that she really could “milly rock on any block.” The dance is also receiving a resurgence in popularity, as YouTube dancer and social media personality Roy Purdy published a dance video of himself actually “going to New York to milly rock,” a lyric from new Atlanta hip-hop artist Playboi Carti’s “Magnolia.”
Juju On That Beat
The “Juju on That Beat” song and dance, created by Zay Hilfigerr and Zayion McCall, were both popularized at the tail end of 2016, providing another quintessential example of a social media dance challenge as it inspired all kinds of people to post their “Juju on That Beat” videos to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. This particular dance is great because it combines many different types of dances and has incredibly fun lyrics that are a great time to sing along to. The lyric “you ugly — you your Daddy’s son!” became something of a catchphrase of its own at the time the song was being popularized, and only a couple months later, the song “My Friends” by Mr. HotSpot, also incorporated that same and provided a similar template for a dance challenge like Juju On That Beat.