Dancing baby

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Screenshot of the dancing baby

The "Dancing Baby", also called "Baby Cha-Cha" or "the Oogachacka Baby", is an internet meme of a 3D-rendered animation of a baby performing a cha-cha type dance. It quickly became a media phenomenon in the United States and one of the first viral videos in the mid-late 1990s.


Michael Girard, who has worked on Rugrats and The Simpsons,[1] travelled from Holland, Netherlands, to California, United States, in 1993 with his wife Susan Amkraut.[2] There, the couple started the company Unreal Pictures Inc.[2] and the team began the "Biped" animation project by developing sample 3D animated files.[3] The samples would be released in Character Studio, a plug-in for the Autodesk 3ds Max application (known as "3D Studio Max" at the time) from a division of Autodesk, Kinetix.[2][4]

Robert Lurye, who was animating at Rhythm and Hues Studios, was hired by the company and was told to make more samples. Lurye started changing the choreography of a dancing adult skeleton that had been made by the team (the "chacha.bip" file).[2][3] He added more dance moves, such as making it "play air guitar for a second and bend over and shake its shoulders."[2] For the visuals, Unreal Pictures Inc. had multiple renderings of creatures that could be animated, including an alien, a dinosaur and a baby.[3] The baby, made by modeler Tony Morrill, had been bought from a Viewpoint DataLabs listing.[5][2] Team member John Chadwick, by using the Physique software, made the baby model perform the skeleton's dance. He stated that it was his idea to load the dancing animation on the baby.[1] Vulture, a pop culture website owned by New York magazine, reports that the animation was also developed by Paul Bloemink, John Hutchinson and Adam Felt.[6]

The result was a file with the name "sk_baby.max".[6] Kinetix exhibited a demo of the Dancing Baby in the 1995 SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference. Character Studio was released in August 1996. According to The New York Times, Girard had discarded the Dancing Baby, opining it was "disturbing" for its realistic nature, in contrast to Disney animations at the time.[2]


LucasArts animator and Autodesk customer Ron Lussier recovered the Dancing Baby by recombining the chacha.bip file with the baby model (which was commercially available), made some minor changes and posted it on a CompuServe Internet forum as an .avi format.[2][3][7] He also reportedly sent the Dancing Baby to his colleagues by e-mail.[8][9] Although Girard credits Lussier as being responsible for the meme's spread,[7] news website Vox reports that the meme became viral after it was converted and posted as an animated GIF by developer John Woodell.[10]

Users and animators were able to render their own video clips of the 'original' animated dancing baby (sk_baby.max) and circulate these via the Compuserve (Internet) forums, World Wide Web (commercial and private websites), and in print ads and unrestricted e-mail. Such activity proliferated most significantly from mainstream (Windows users) royalty-free access to and user renderings of the 3D dancing baby source file for use on the Internet and in broadcast television via several news editorials, advertisements, and even comic programming in local, national (U.S.), and various international markets. Woodell's animated GIF then proliferated to numerous other websites, and later proceeded to show up in a broad array of mainstream media, including television dramas (such as Ally McBeal), commercial advertisements, and music videos between 1997 and 1998.


Variations to the original animation were later produced by numerous animators by modifying the sk_baby.max sample file's animation or the baby model itself, including a "drunken baby", a "rasta baby", a "samurai baby", and others. However, none of these became as popular on the Internet as the original file, and most popular uses of Dancing Baby are virtually unchanged from the original character mesh and animation.


In February 2020, Twitter user @JArmstrongArty not only rediscovered the original Dancing Baby file, but also converted the original animation into high definition.[11]

In June 2022, the original creator team of Michael Girard, Robert Lurye and John Chadwick joined with Viennese design boutique HFA-Studio to release a digitally restored, high definition version of the Original Dancing Baby as a non-fungible token (NFT).[12] To set the original creation in perspective, they invited contemporary 3D artists and animators like Chris Torres (creator of the famous "Nyan Cat") and Serwah Attafuah (aka Kid Eight) to "remix" the dancing baby.[13] The project appeared on various media outlets like CNN and gained a lot of attraction in the crypto scene.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Schroeder, Audra (November 12, 2021). "The many lives of the Dancing Baby, cyberspace's first cringe meme". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on July 18, 2022. Retrieved August 10, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Mirapaul, Matthew (July 24, 1997). "Oh, Baby! The Story of a Toddler Who Traveled the Web". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 7, 2022. Retrieved August 10, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d Friedlander, Whitney (October 9, 2020). "Where Do Dancing Babies Come From? The Story Behind a Classic Ally McBeal Scene". Vulture. Archived from the original on May 8, 2021. Retrieved August 10, 2022.
  4. ^ Johnson, Greg (April 2, 1998). "Baby Bloomers". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 11, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022.
  5. ^ Horiuchi, Vince (April 14, 1998). "'Dancing Baby' is cultural icon". Lodi News-Sentinel. p. 7.
  6. ^ a b Vilas-Boas, Eric; Maher, John (October 5, 2020). "The 100 Most Influential Sequences in Animation History". Vulture. Archived from the original on July 12, 2022. Retrieved August 10, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c Jacqui Palumbo (5 May 2022). "The internet's famous dancing baby from 1996 is getting a new look". CNN. Retrieved 2022-06-21.
  8. ^ Wolk, Josh (April 1, 1998). "Dance Fever". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on November 19, 2015. Retrieved August 12, 2022.
  9. ^ Colton, Michael (April 13, 1998). "The Dancing Baby's Mainstream Boogie". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 27, 2017. Retrieved August 12, 2022.
  10. ^ Romano, Aja (June 15, 2017). "The GIF is 30 years old. It didn't just shape the internet — it grew up with the internet". Vox. Archived from the original on June 21, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022.
  11. ^ McCarter, Reid (February 11, 2020). "The "Dancing Baby" GIF has returned, now in glorious HD". News. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  12. ^ "The Dancing Baby Collection | Foundation". foundation.app. Retrieved 2022-06-21.
  13. ^ "The original Dancing Baby Project". The original Dancing Baby Project (in German). Retrieved 2022-06-21.

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