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Dab (dance)

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A group of teens dabbing

Dabbing, or the dab, is a simple dance move or playful gesture, in which a person drops their head into the bent crook of a slanted arm, while raising the opposite arm in a parallel direction but out straight. The move looks similar to someone sneezing into the "inside" of the elbow.[1][2]

Rich the Kid is featured in a YouTube video tutorial on dabbing. As of May 2017, the video has been viewed more than 2.5 million times.[3]


The dab has its origins in the Atlanta hip-hop scene, but there was initially disagreement about who originated the dance.[4] Artists initially mentioned as possible originators include Migos (as in "Look at My Dab"), Skippa Da Flippa, Peewee Longway, Jose Guapo and Rich The Kid.[5] The controversy was cleared up when fellow QC labelmate OG Maco called out Migos for saying they were the creators when it was actually Skippa da Flippa. Though Migos later confirmed Skippa as the originator of the dance, they were unhappy with the way Maco handled the situation.[6]

American rapper Bow Wow attempted to explain the origin of the dab dance, saying it derived from the cannabis dabbers community, which started in about 2012, long before the dance move. He was met with opposition from other rappers who immediately took to Twitter to insult and disprove his claims.[7]


In 2015, the dab rose to national prominence in the United States. As XXL magazine reported in August 2015, "What started as a regional down South adlib is quickly becoming a masterful maneuver in clubs and on street corners. It’s called dabbin’."[8] Jason Derulo taught James Corden how to dab during the November 4, 2015 edition of "Carpool Karaoke" on The Late Late Show with James Corden.[9]

The dab gained popularity in U.S. sports following an eight-second celebratory dab by Cam Newton, football quarterback for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League, during a game against the Tennessee Titans on November 15, 2015.[10][11] According to a Sports Illustrated account of the incident, "[w]hen two Titans players confronted [Newton] about the celebration, he continued to dance in their faces, even as he backed away."[1] Newton explained the incident by crediting a 16-year-old for instructing him to "dab on them folks":

I'm a firm believer that if you don't like me to do it then don't let me in ... I just like doing it, man. It's not to be boastful, and from the crowd's response they like seeing it. ... Tell me what to do "Dab on them folks," so I tried "Dab on them folks," in that tone too. "Dab on them folks." He's only like 16, but he's got an Adam's apple out of this world.[12]

It was later confirmed that the 16-year-old was Newton's younger brother Caylin.[13] On June 9, 2016, Cam Newton announced that he would no longer perform the celebration. However, he dabbed again on November 13, 2016 after a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs, nearly a year after his initial dab against the Titans.[14]

Dabbing has made its appearance in politics, as well. In January 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton dabbed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. In October, Representative Loretta Sanchez dabbed at the end of a Senate debate.[15] On January 3, 2017, Cal Marshall, 17-year-old son of Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan), dabbed at his father's swearing in as a Congressman, confusing House Speaker Paul Ryan.[16] On February 22, 2017 Deputy Labour Leader Tom Watson dabbed in the UK's House of Commons.[17] French presidential candidates Emmanuel Macron,[18] Benoît Hamon and François Fillon dabbed on TV in March 2017.

In February 2017, the president of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, invited a dance group to State House to perform the dab dance move with him.[19] The president was doing the dab dance in a bid to appeal to the youthful population of Kenya to come out and register as voters. Some critics found this move to be in bad taste since there were other pressing issues like the doctors and lecturers strike that the president ought to have been dealing with rather than dancing.[20]

Today the dab is both a dance move and a statement. The culture behind the dab has been propagated by celebrity use and memes. Many dancers incorporate the dab in their repertoire as a minor addition to a set; whether it's at the beginning, middle, or end of a set it is usually used to mark a drop in the beat.

See also


  1. ^ a b Ducey, Kenny (November 16, 2015). "'Dab on Them Folks': A Brief History of the Dab Dance in Sports". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  2. ^ Fumadoh, Ziwe (November 20, 2015). "Your guide to dabbing, a 'new' dance craze that already peaked". Daily Dot. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  3. ^ "How To DAB (Dance) with Rich The Kid". HotNewHipHop. August 31, 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2017 – via YouTube. 
  4. ^ Fumadoh, Ziwe (November 20, 2015). "Your guide to dabbing, a 'new' dance craze that already peaked". Daily Dot. Retrieved January 4, 2016. There’s a great deal of controversy surrounding the pioneers of the dabbing dance, with the credit going to various members of Quality Control label (including Migos, Skippa Da Flippa, and Peewee Longway). Migos has gotten the bulk of credit for the trend since releasing the song ' Dab' on Sept. 3, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Deconstructing the 'Dab'". BET. December 21, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Migos and OG Maco Aren't Getting Along Right Now". BET. August 6, 2015. 
  7. ^ Robertson, Iyana (December 8, 2015). "Bow Wow Attempts To Explain The Origin Of "The Dab," Gets Clowned By Migos". Vibe. Retrieved February 3, 2016. 
  8. ^ Madden, Sidney (August 5, 2015). "Atlanta's Dabbin' Dance Craze Is Taking Over Scial Media". XXL Magazine. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Jason Derulo Carpool Karaoke". The Late Late Show with James Corden. Retrieved June 7, 2016 – via YouTube. 
  10. ^ "2015 Week 10 Schedule". National Football League. Retrieved February 10, 2016. 
  11. ^ Peters, Micah (November 15, 2015). "Titans linebacker takes offense to Cam Newton's dancing, Newton keeps dancing in his face". USA Today. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  12. ^ Dator, James (November 16, 2015). "Cam Newton danced like that because a 16-year-old told him to". SBNation. Retrieved February 10, 2016. 
  13. ^ Sandritter, Mark (February 7, 2016). "Cam Newton is the NFL's king of the Dab". SBNation. Retrieved February 10, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Cam Newton resurrects the dab after bowling over Chiefs for TD". USA Today. November 13, 2016. 
  15. ^ Zaru, Deena (October 6, 2016). "Loretta Sanchez dabs in California Senate debate, Kamala Harris not amused". CNN. 
  16. ^ Schmidt, Samantha (January 4, 2017). "The 'dab' makes an awkward comeback and Paul Ryan learns it is not a sneeze". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 4, 2017. 
  17. ^ Nsubuga, Jimmy (February 22, 2017). "Labour's Tom Watson has just done the dab in the House of Commons". Metro. UK. 
  18. ^ "Le dab d'Emmanuel Macron". The Huffington Post (in French). March 13, 2017. 
  19. ^ "Uhuru danced as critical issues in the country went unattended". daily Nation. Retrieved February 23, 2017. 
  20. ^ "Kenyan President's #DabChallenge Backfires After Critics Create #DabOfShame". Global Voices. February 15, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2017. 

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