The Gangnam Style dance was a major cultural phenomenon when it was first released in 2012. Although he didn’t have the traditional look of a K-Pop star, PSY’s image became popular everywhere around the globe, especially during the early 2010s.
Rather than the catchy music, the thing that shot PSY’s Gangnam Style to fame is the iconic dance mimicking a horse rider. Everyone was doing it back in the day (and even now!)
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Gangnam Style dance, its origins, its meanings, and how you can dance it out like PSY.
Table of Contents
- 6 Facts About Gangnam Style Dance
- Fact 1: Gangnam Style Dance Involves The Gangnam District
- Fact 2: Gangnam Style Is Actually A Satire
- Fact 3: Psy Spent 30 Nights Searching For The Dance
- Fact 4: Gangnam Style Dance Introduced K-Pop To The West
- Fact 5: Gangnam Style Dance Could Be A “Force For World Peace”
- Fact 6: Gangnam Style Dance Shapes The Fame Of Psy
- How To Do The Gangnam Style Dance?
6 Facts About Gangnam Style Dance
Fact 1: Gangnam Style Dance Involves The Gangnam District
The term “Gangnam Style” is actually a neologism in South Korea, meaning “a manner associated with lavish lifestyles in Seoul’s Gangnam district.” In an interview, PSY describes the Gangnam district as the “Beverly Hills of South Korea,” where people tend to be overtly “trendy, hip, and classy.”
With wild party scenes, confetti, and red carpets, the music video portrays the life of a rich (and extremely haughty) man in Gangnam. Because of these scenes, Gangnam Style is often considered a song to blast during parties.
But encouraging this lifestyle wasn’t PSY’s intention at all. The opposite, in fact!
Fact 2: Gangnam Style Is Actually A Satire
People who are considered to have “Gangnam Style” are seen as pretentious and fake. They spend a lot of money to appear wealthy.
So, in the music video, PSY went all out with his portrayal of the arrogant “Gangnam style” people. According to PSY, the core message of Gangnam Style is the hollowness and shallowness of human society. So much so, he said: “… even while filming, I felt pathetic.”
But other than the satirical message behind the music and the dance itself, the iconic “horse-riding dance” doesn’t really have profound meaning behind it, as far as we know.
Fact 3: Psy Spent 30 Nights Searching For The Dance
PSY said that during the video production, fans told him they looked forward to watching him dance. He then spent 30 nights searching for a unique dance that could wow his audience.
PSY experimented with many different animal-inspired dances with the help of his choreographer, Lee Ju-sun. Ideas ranged from panda-like dances to kangaroos. However, by the end, they decided on the horse-riding dance, with him jumping up and down on two spread legs, holding the reins, and waving his fist like he’s about to throw a lasso.
Fact 4: Gangnam Style Dance Introduced K-Pop To The West
When it was first released, the music video for Gangnam Style received well over 500,000 views in just a single day. And in the months after that, young and old people alike started recording videos of themselves doing the Gangnam Style dance and posting them online.
According to many experts, the great popularity of the dance was comparable to the Macarena back in the late 1990s.
Since it was released in 2012, K-Pop’s popularity in western countries wasn’t great just yet. And with the explosive popularity of the Gangnam Style dance (and song,) some considered it the start of the “Korean Wave” in the west. The catchy tune and the easy and super fun dance were many people’s introductions to K-Pop.
As of last month, the Gangnam Style video hit 4.5 billion views on YouTube. It held the record as the most-watched Korean-language video on the video-sharing site for a while, only to be replaced by “Dynamite” by the boy band BTS.
Fact 5: Gangnam Style Dance Could Be A “Force For World Peace”
And because Gangnam Style was so popular, it was quickly adopted by many celebrities and organizations. But like we said earlier, the Gangnam Style wasn’t just popular domestically in South Korea, it was popular worldwide.
Because of this, even the Secretary-General of the United Nations at the time, Ban Ki-moon, admitted that the simple dance could be a “force for world peace.” PSY was even invited to the United Nations Headquarters in New York and instructed the Secretary-General on dancing Gangnam Style on live TV!
And the Secretary-General wasn’t the only world leader to be interested in the Gangnam Style dance. The President of the United States at the time, Barack Obama, even mentioned his plan to privately perform it to his wife at the White House.
And of course, world leaders aren’t the only ones hooked on the dance. Celebrities in the entertainment world are, too.
PSY has performed the dance with Justin Bieber, Kevin Hart, Britney Spears, and even Madonna. He appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show and taught Ellen the dance, as well. You can still see the recording of the episode on YouTube!
Fact 6: Gangnam Style Dance Shapes The Fame Of Psy
Though most people knew about PSY through Gangnam Style, it actually wasn’t his debut. The hit song was his sixth album (PSY6).
After the massive success of Gangnam Style, PSY continued to produce many more songs, like “Gentleman” and “Father.” However, none of the new songs (so far) have reached the cult-like status of Gangnam Style.
So, for people who aren’t die-hard fans of PSY, you can say that he’s pretty much faded from the entertainment scene. Many people are questioning where he is and what he’s doing right now.
PSY still resides in South Korea in 2022 with his wife Yoo Hye-Yeon. They had twin daughters just a few years prior.
In 2019, PSY founded an entertainment company to manage the careers of many artists, like HyunA, Heize, Crush, and more.
Since Gangnam Style, he has released a few more albums. The latest one was released at the beginning of the year with the title “PSY9”.
Check more: Butterfly Dance
How To Do The Gangnam Style Dance?
The Gangnam Style dance is incredibly easy to do. You should be able to pick it up without having no explicit instructions at all. Many people learn just by watching PSY do it in the music video.
But if you need a clear guide, here is what you need to know.
Step 1: Cross Your Arms
Lift your arms in front of you, then cross your right wrist on top of your left so that they form an X. Keep your hands in loose fists. This pose is similar to that of a person holding a horse’s rein.
Shake your crossed hands up and down, as if you’re galloping on top of a horse and the motion is making you bounce.
Step 2: Bounce Your Feet
Lift your right knee, then lower your right foot. The moment your right foot hits the ground, lift your left knee and do the same motion. You should look like you’re jumping from one foot to another to the rhythm of the music.
Step 3: Combine the Two Motions
Combine the two motions above together: cross your arms and bounce, then jump from one foot to another. And that’s the basic Gangnam Style dance!
Step 4: Alternate with the “Lasso-Throwing” Move
After doing the basic dance for a while, switch up the move to add more spice to your performance. Bring your hand up and turn your wrist 90°. Shake your hand around in circles.
Imagine yourself spinning a lasso and about to throw it like in one of those old cowboy movies. PSY also performs this dance in his music video, so if you need some visual help, you can re-watch the video and learn the move!
The Gangnam Style dance meets all of the criteria to become a hit dance. First, it is easy to do. Second, it’s from one of the most popular music videos out there and comes with an incredibly catchy tune.
No wonder it has made such an impact around the world!
We hope this guide has given you a better idea of what this dance is all about … and if you haven’t heard or tried out Gangnam Style before, well, it’s never too late to start.