Look at my Dab: Investigating the Dance Move of 2016

While whipping, “nae nae-ing,” and twerking are dance moves performed by many, there is a dance move that became popular in 2016 and has risen much higher than any other pop culture dance move: the dab. When performing the dab, or dabbing, the dancer drops his head into the crook of his arm while raising the elbow and other arm in a gesture many liken to a sneeze. A relatively simple maneuver, the dab has become incredibly popular.

Originating in the Atlanta hip-hop scene in around 2013, the dab became an issue. As the dab gained popularity, multiple entertainers attempted claiming credit for creating and popularizing the dance move. Migos who wrote the song “Look at My Dab” was one of the many performers who claimed they created the dance move. Migos, after being criticized by multiple artists for claiming the dab, later confirmed that Skippa da Flippa was the creator.

While Cameron Newton of the Carolina Panthers never claimed he created the dab, Newton was by far one of the largest contributors to the spread in its popularity. Sometime in late 2015, Newton dabbed after scoring against the Tennessee Titans and continued to perform the dance even when two Titans players confronted him. In June 2016, Newton announced he would no longer being using the dab as his celebration dance move, but he brought it back in November 2016 against the Kansas City Chief.

Celebrities of all professions have been seen performing the dab. Hillary Clinton had some fun on The Ellen DeGeneres Show by dabbing under the instruction of Stephen “tWitch” Boss. US Congressman Roger Marshal’s son was caught dabbing at his father’s swearing in ceremony but just ends up confusing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan as well as his father. Crystal Palace F.C. player Mathieu Flamini has been mocked for dabbing moments before Arsenal F.C. player Olivier Giroud scored a goal with a scorpion kick. Even Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants got in on the craze during a parade at Universal Studios in January 2016. Everyone’s doing it.

But just because everyone’s doing it, does not mean everyone likes it. Science Department faculty member Jon Buttensky-Bartlett tells his students that “every time you dab you lose a brain cell.” He even goes so far to say that “every time a student [dabs] in class [he] die[s] a little on the inside.” BB, as his friends call him, has requested to never be contacted about “dabbing” again.

Western Reserve Academy student Yashaswi Sharma ’18 stated that even though he acknowledged the dab had somewhat fallen out of style as it became too mainstream, he could not help himself. “For me [dabbing] became an addiction,” Sharma explained. “Dabbing took my friends and family away from me, and although I wanted to stop everyday, dabbing became a regular habit,” he continued. After being approached by friends and family about the issue, Sharma spent time reflecting and is now “trying to stop dabbing for the betterment of the community.”

The dab has reached every corner of the globe, but we still have yet to see if the dab survives 2017.

-Casey Semple ’18

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