Hampster Dance

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The Hampster Dance is one of the earliest Internet memes. Created in 1998 by Canadian art student Deidre LaCarte as a GeoCities page, the dance features rows of animated GIFs of hamsters and other rodents dancing in various ways to a sped-up sample from the song "Whistle-Stop", written and performed by Roger Miller for the 1973 Walt Disney Productions film Robin Hood. In 2005, CNET named the Hampster Dance the number-one Web fad.[1]


Screen capture of the original Hampster Dance

Canadian art student Deidre LaCarte (of Nanaimo, British Columbia) was in a competition with her best friend and sister to generate the most Web traffic when she created the Hampster Dance page with the free Geocities web service in August 1998. She named the site "Hampton Hampster's Hamster House" in homage to her pet hamster, "Hampton Hampster", who on the page declared his intent to become a "Web star."[2][3] LaCarte noted that the misspelling of "hamster" as "hampster" in both her pet's name and the Hampster Dance page was intentional.[4]

The Hampster Dance site originally consisted of a single page with just four unique animated GIFs of cartoon hamsters. These images were repeated in rows by the dozens and were paired with an infectious, continuously looping background tune. At the time the page was created, embedding background music in HTML pages was a fairly novel browser feature. The clip, a nine-second looped WAV file, was a sped-up sample of Roger Miller's "Whistle Stop", a song written for the opening credits of the 1973 Disney animated feature film Robin Hood.[3]

From its creation in August 1998 to March 1999, the Hampster Dance site only recorded about 800 total visits (roughly four per day). In February 1999, word of the website spread by e-mail and early blogs.[5] By March, the site gathered approximately 60,000 views in four days.[6] Soon the site was even featured on bumper stickers and in a television commercial for Internet service provider EarthLink. Fans of the site created variations on the original theme, using images of other animals and of politicians such as Dan Quayle.[6]

The original website was hosted on GeoCities, and LaCarte failed to register the hampsterdance.com domain. With the continued popularity of the original site, an unauthorized duplicate website was hosted on hampsterdance.com.[7] LaCarte thus used the domains hamsterdance.com, hamsterdance2.com, and hampsterdance2.com.[8] In early 2000, the domain was transferred to humor business Nutty Sites for undisclosed reasons. In late 2001, LaCarte sold the "Hampster Dance" rights to Abatis International, who managed to acquire the original domain.[7] The site later expanded, revealing the names of all four characters (Hampton, Dixie, Hado, and Fuzzy) and offering themed versions for birthdays, graduation, holidays, etc. The original website is no longer functional, but other sites inspired by the original still exist.[9][10]

Music releases and Hampton and the Hampsters[edit]

In April 1999, hoping to capitalize on the popularity of the website, English electronic group the Cuban Boys promotionally released "Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia". In its original release, the track featured the sped-up sample of "Whistle Stop".[7] When the song was commercially released later that December, it was replaced with a soundalike sample.[11] The song was marketed as "the Hamster Dance song", and LaCarte accused the group of stealing her idea.[7] The single peaked at number 4 on the Christmas 1999 UK singles chart.[12]

In June 2000, LaCarte partnered with producers The Boomtang Boys for the release of a site-sponsored song, "The Hampsterdance Song".[7][13] Like the previous single by the Cuban Boys, the single contains a different sound-alike sample of "Whistle Stop".[7] Disney did not allow the use of the actual "Whistle Stop" clip, and liner notes for the single state: "Includes elements of 'Whistle Stop' by Roger Miller."[7][14] A cartoon video was produced for the single that introduced a cartoon "band" of four hamsters; though the song was solely credited to "Hampton the Hampster", the band was later dubbed "Hampton and the Hampsters."[15] The song reached number one on the Canadian Singles Chart while peaking at number 32 on the RPM charts. In Australia, "The Hampsterdance Song" was released in 2001 and reached number five on the ARIA Singles Chart. The song proved to be very successful on Radio Disney, where it became the station's all-time most played song and was later included on the compilation album Radio Disney Ultimate Jams.[16] LaCarte created an online store offering T-shirts and CDs of the fictional group's music. An Flash-animated series was planned by Nelvana, but never made it past the planning process.[17]

Following the relative success of "The Hampsterdance Song" single, an entire album featuring the fictional band titled Hampsterdance: The Album was released in 2000.[18] Some follow-up singles from this album were moderately successful in Australia, such as "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" (a cover of the John Denver song, reaching number 12) and "Hampster Party" (reaching number 44).[19] In August 2001, the group released the cover single "Sing a Simple Song" which was a number one hit on Radio Disney.[20][7] The song was included on their follow-up album Happy Times Ten (2002).[7] Hampsterdance: The Album was reissued with a shorter tracklist as The Hampster Dance Party in 2002. Later album releases were the compilation Hampsterdance Hits (2004) and A Very Hampsterdance Christmas (2008).[18][21]

Hampton and the Hampsters Discography[edit]


List of albums, with selected details, chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart
Hampsterdance: The Album/The Hampsterdance Album[a] 7
Happy Times Ten
  • Released: 2002
  • Label: Kunduru
  • Format: CD
A Very Hampsterdance Christmas
  • Released: 2008
  • Label: That's It! Records
  • Format: CD, digital download


List of reissues with selected details
Title Album details
The Hampster Dance Party


List of compilations with selected details
Title Album details
Hampsterdance Hits
  • Released: 2004
  • Label: Koch Entertainment
  • Format: CD


List of singles, with selected chart positions
Title Year Peak chart positions Certification Album
GER US Dance
"The Hampsterdance Song" 2000 1 5 60 4 Hampsterdance: The Album
"Thank God I'm a Country Boy" 2001 12
"Hampster Party" 44
"Hampsterdance Christmas"[b]
"Sing a Simple Song" Happy Times Ten
"Time to Party" 2006 Non-album single
"—" denotes releases that failed to chart or not released in that country.

Promotional singles[edit]

List of singles
Title Year Album
"Even Hampsters Fall in Love" 2000 Hampsterdance: The Album

Direct-to-video film[edit]

In December 2004, Abatis International relaunched the Hampsterdance website and announced that a DVD would be released in Spring 2005.[25] The date passed with no release, and the release date was later removed.[26] On April 2, 2009, the website began selling a DVD of the direct-to-video animated film How the Hampsters Saved Winter. The film was produced by Abatis International LLC and animated by Unreal Productions, located in New Jersey. The DVD was purchasable until 2012 and sold 2000 copies.[27] After the film became unavailable for purchase on the website, the film was thought to be lost as no copies were made available elsewhere. However, four screenshots were featured via a game on the website called Hamster Hijinks.[28] In 2022, the film was archived on the Lost Media Wiki and uploaded onto YouTube.[29][30]


  1. ^ The same album was released under both names in different territories.
  2. ^ Double A-side of "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls".


  1. ^ Top 10 Web fads - from CNET
  2. ^ Hamsters, You've Got Mail! Sun Sentinel
  3. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-89820-177-2.
  4. ^ "Hampton Update". Archived from the original on November 28, 1999.
  5. ^ "2 Scoops of Quickies". Slashdot.org. February 9, 1999. "The Cunctator sent us link that can only be described as the hamster dance."
  6. ^ a b Burkeman, Oliver (December 9, 1999). "Hamming it up". The Guardian. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The oral history of the Hampsterdance: The twisted true story of one of the world's first memes". CBC. December 27, 2018. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  8. ^ "Yahoo | Mail, Weather, Search, Politics, News, Finance, Sports & Videos". Archived from the original on November 28, 1999.
  9. ^ "Hampster Dance". hamsterdance.org/hamsterdance. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  10. ^ "Web Hampster Dance". webhamster.com. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  11. ^ "Gettingit.com: Hamster Dance Enhanced". gettingit.com. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  12. ^ BBC: Festive Fifty 1999
  13. ^ "KOCH RECORDS TO RELEASE HAMPTON THE HAMPSTER: THE HAMPSTERDANCE SONG ON JUNE 13, 2000". Koch Records. Archived from the original on March 15, 2002.
  14. ^ Hampsterdance liner notes - "Includes elements of 'Whistle Stop' by Roger Miller" Koch Records. (2000)
  15. ^ Hampton and the Hampsters – Happy Times Ten (CD). Kunduru Music. 2002. LK 86943.
  16. ^ "How The Hampsterdance Took Over The Internet, And Then The World". Throwbacks. November 10, 2017. Retrieved May 17, 2023.
  17. ^ "Hampster dancing into other venues". usatoday30.usatoday.com. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Hampton the Hampster on Amazon Music". www.amazon.com. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  19. ^ a b c "Discography Hampton the Hampster". australian-charts.com. Retrieved August 17, 2022.
  20. ^ "Music News". Archived from the original on December 5, 2001.
  21. ^ "A Very Hampsterdance Christmas by Hampton and the Hampsters". iTunes. October 20, 2008. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  22. ^ a b Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 123.
  23. ^ "Artist Search for "hampton the hampster"". AllMusic. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  24. ^ Billboard AllMusic (Retrieved April 29, 2009)
  25. ^ "Fresh Hampster Tracks". Hampton and the Hampsters. Archived from the original on December 25, 2004.
  26. ^ "Fresh Hampster Tracks". Hampton and the Hampsters. Archived from the original on March 22, 2007.
  27. ^ Collins, Leah (December 27, 2018). "CBC Arts' history of the Hampster Dance". CBC. Retrieved March 25, 2022.
  28. ^ "Hampsterdance.com". Hampsterdance.com. March 25, 2022. Archived from the original on March 17, 2015. Retrieved March 25, 2022.
  29. ^ "How The Hampsters Saved Winter (found direct-to-video Hampster Dance film; 2009) - The Lost Media Wiki". lostmediawiki.com. Retrieved March 25, 2022.
  30. ^ How The Hampsters Saved Winter (Lost Hampster Dance Movie) IN FULL-2009 (MOST VIEWED VIDEO), retrieved March 25, 2022

External links[edit]