What Is Dabbing? Who Started The Dab Dance?

The dab dance has been around for decades. But thanks to social media, it has experienced a resurgence. Everyone these days knows how to dab. Just ask, and you’ll find many arms in the air.

And there are good reasons for its popularity! It’s so simple to do. Unlike most dances, you don’t have to practice or anything. You can watch a video of someone doing it and “get” it right away.

But have you ever wondered about the history, moves, and other things about the dab dance? This guide can show you everything that you need to know!

What Is Dabbing?

Dabbing isn’t exactly a “dance”, per se. It is more like a gesture. Dabbing involves dropping your head into the crook of one arm. Meanwhile, your other arm should be angled upward, extending out.

Here is how it looks like on video:

It looks sort of like sneezing into your elbow!

Dab Dance Origin

Although it looks like a recent invention, dabbing has been around for a long time, dating back to the 1990s. It didn’t quite exist as “dabbing” around then, but a similar move was known before the term was dubbed.

In the 1990s, for example, the dabbing move can be seen in Japanese pop culture. If you have watched Dragon Ball Z, then you will have seen the main character, Goku, performing what looked like a dab from time to time. In Japan, it’s known as the “Sentai move.”

You won’t just see it in Dragon Ball Z. Popular cartoons at the time, like Karmen Rider, Power Rangers, and Super Sentai featured the move.

DBZ Goku dabbing dance origin

When was the Dab dance invented?

But that’s just the movement itself. The dabbing dance wasn’t a thing until the late 2000s. And unlike in the Japanese original, the modern dab has nothing to do with the fun spirit of the cartoonish “Sentai move.” The dab dance meaning is quite dark.

Who started the Dab dance?

Dabbing is credited to be an invention of a group of rappers based in Atlanta known as the Migos.

Members of the Migos group are well-known for their fondness for marijuana. People who smoke joints tend to sneeze a lot, which is why the dabbing motion looks like someone sneezing into the crook of their elbow.

Because it is!

The term “dabbing” itself was a reference to the act of smoking and extracting marijuana concentrates.

Popularity Of Dab Dance

It was first introduced to the masses during a 2014 performance of the Migos at the Paramount Theater in Springfield, Massachusetts. Since then, it has become an enduring phenomenon.

The dabbing dance was made popular by social media, and it retained its popularity today thanks to social media. People – young or old, famous or not – have been doing it since the 2010s.

Sure, it’s no longer as popular as it once was. But with just a brief search on popular platforms like YouTube and TikTok, you’ll still find a lot of examples of people doing the dabbing dance.

Dabbing with celebrities

Cam Newton

cam newton dab

Cam Newton is a famous football player who busts out a dab every time he achieves a first down or a touchdown. He’s part of why the dabbing dance has become so popular. Due to him being a high-profile football player and having participated in many football championships with millions of viewers … he’s the perfect launch platform for the dabbing dance to widespread popularity.

The first time he hit the dab was on November 15th, 2015, during a match between his team, the Carolina Panthers, and the Tennessee Titan.

Hilary Clinton

Hilary Clinton dab

Memorably, during the 2016 election, the US presidential candidate Hilary Clinton dabbed on television as a way to attract young voters. Though the result wasn’t in her favor, it garnered many points from young people and made quite a few headlines (and memes!)

Other politicians

Hilary Clinton wasn’t the only famous person or politician to try and use the dab as a way to be “chic,” though. There’s a surprisingly long list of politicians on record for doing the dab.

In 2016, for example, during a debate with the now Vice President of the US, Kamala Harris, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez dabbed.

In 2017, the French presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron, dabbed along with other candidates on live television.

Emmanuel Macron dab with Paul Pogba

There are many other examples of this. We don’t want to go too much into politics. But that’s how powerful the dabbing dance was in the 2010s. Even politicians were in on the craze!

Dab dance is deemed illegal in Saudi Arabia

But not everybody finds the dab amazing. Because of its association with marijuana, Saudi Arabia banned it. Someone has gotten into trouble for performing this simple dance in the country.

In 2017, Abdallah Al Shaharani, a popular Arabic actor, was arrested because he dabbed during a music festival in the country. He had to apologize on Twitter after the debacle publicly.

Some soccer players also got in trouble for dabbing during a match.

The law is quite stringent about this. So, if you were to visit the UAE, make sure that you don’t do such moves in public. You could be given a fine, prison time, or possibly both!

Dab Dance Moves

There is only one dab dance move, which is extremely easy and you probably don’t even need to practice or learn. You can do it like a pro in just a minute or two.

The basic Dab

Step 1: Lift your arms

First lift both of your arms into the air, going straight from your shoulder and parallel to the ground. Almost like you’re forming a T-letter shaped with your body.

Step 2: Bend one of your arms and tuck your head

Bend one of your arms toward your body, keeping the other outstretched. Bend your head and fit into the crook of your arm (the back of your elbow). Imagine you’re sneezing into your sleeve.

Step 3: Up-angle your arms and hands

That was the basic move of dabbing. Now, to add a little bit of extra flair, slightly bend your hands and arms upward. This step is optional, and a lot of people skip it to keep the dance short and simple.

Step 4: Alternate your arms

Since dabbing has become a gesture more than a dance, a lot of people only do it once. But if you want to turn it into a full-fledged dance, you can alternate your arms.

If you bend your right arm before and keep your left arm outstretched, switch it up! Bend your left arm and stretch out your right arm.

Dabbing Variations

Hitting the Quan

The above is the most basic and well-known “dab” move. But there are many variations that are also considered dabbing. However, while a lot of people know what basic dabbing entails, not many will know things like “hitting the Quan” or “trying the Shmoney.”

Fortunately, similar to the basic dab, these variations are easy to do and learn. Here’s how.

Step 1: Lower your body and strike a squatting pose

Unlike the basic dabbing dance, which wholly has to do with the upper body, the lower body is involved in the Quan.

Bend your knees slightly so that you’re squatting. Keep both of your legs a fair distance from one another to give your body the freedom to move.

Step 2: Roll your hips

The next part involves your hip movement. Rock your hips forward and backward, similar to a worm. If you’re able to, adding your abs into the movement will improve the fluidity of the move.

Some people won’t be able to “rock” their hips. Rather, what they do looks like they are thrusting instead. It is perfectly acceptable.

Remember, dabbing is an informal dance that’s meant to be fun above all. No one will judge you if you’re not following the textbook. Do whatever feels the most natural to you!

Step 3: Move your feet

That’s about it! Walk (or rather, waddle) around as you roll your hips. Move your arms, as well, to give the dance a bit more flair.

Trying the Schmoney

schmoney dance

Step 1: Stand with your feet apart

Open your feet and stand with them apart. Your feet should be in-line with your shoulders. Then, bend your knees slightly to a semi-squatting position.

Step 2: Twist your legs and rock your hips

Twist your legs back and forth once you get lower to the ground. Your body should be completely static, while your lower body shifts around.

Step 3: Move your arms

Like before, move your arms to add an extra flair to the move. The movement should match up with your hip movement. And if you’re dancing to a beat, make sure that it lines up with the music!

Final Words

The dabbing dance is a fun way to joke around with your friends or to bust out spontaneously while you’re happy or excited. Why not give it a shot, if you haven’t yet known how? After all, it’s super easy to learn!

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