How To Dab: Dance Origin And Why Everyone Is Doing It

About ten years ago, an article on how to dab may have featured some concise instruction on using a tissue or handkerchief to lessen the moisture on your face but now a how-to dab article focuses on the dance move and pop culture phenomenon that is dabbing.

Dabbing became in the past couple of years one of the dance crazes that swept the internet and carried everyone along. It took over a space that the Nae Nae formerly occupied but went beyond the hip-hop community to trending worldwide.

The question of how to dab is a simple one to answer, the dance simply necessitates that one drops their head while raising their arm and rest their face inside their elbow as though sneezing into it.

To put how to dab in Sports Illustrated terms; “The dance is pretty simple; one leans into their elbow like they’re sneezing. That’s it, literally. You’ve dabbed before.”

The dab dance is said to have originated in Atlanta, Georgia but a bit of an argument persists on who the dance really should be credited to. A majority of the credit for the dance goes to the members of Quality Control label (including Migos, OG Maco, and Peewee Longway). Migos has gotten the bulk of the credit for the trend since releasing the song “Bitch Dab” on Sept. 3, 2015.

However, OG Maco called out Migos for saying they were the creators when it was actually Skippa Da Flippa, another label mate, who was the creator. Migos later confirmed Skippa as the originator of the dance.

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Bow Wow, the American rapper, also attempted to explain the origin of the dab dance, saying it was derived from the cannabis dabbers community, which started in about 2012 before the dance move but other rappers were not having it and took to Twitter to disprove his claims.

In November of 2015, a FOX news local affiliate in South Carolina reported that “the dab” was named after Clemson University’s head football coach Dabo Swinney. This, however, was immediately met with backlash from the online community.

how to dab

The dab dance has since hit peak popularity with some of its proponents even now declaring it tired. One of the dab’s most prominent moments was the 2015 eight-second celebration by footballer Cam Newton. The football quarterback had done an eight-second celebratory dab during a game against the Tennessee Titans.

According to a Sports Illustrated account of the incident;

“When two Titans players confronted [Newton] about the celebration, he continued to dance in their faces, even as he backed away.”

Newton explained the incident by crediting a 16-year-old for instructing him to “dab on them folks” The 16-year old in question was Newton’s younger brother Caylin. Newton announced that he would no longer perform the celebration on June 9, 2016, but after a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs, he dabbed again on November 13, 2016.

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Dabbing became a popular victory dance in sports and Quavo and Takeoff of the hip-hop group Migos gave Cam Newton the official title of “Dab Daddy.”

The dance has, however, gone beyond hip-hop and sports. Politicians, little kids, everyone has gotten in on it. In January 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton dabbed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, at the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, the children celebrated their correct spellings by dabbing. Kendrick Lamar crashed into a wedding and started dabbing with his crew.

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Even right here in Africa, the president of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, invited a dance group to State House in February 2017, to perform the dab dance move with him. He apparently did it in a bid to appeal to the youthful population of Kenya to come out and register as voters but a lot of people were not pleased considering there were other pressing issues to handle in the country.

Some people are so over the dance that they may appreciate the fact that it is illegal in Saudi Arabia. The dance was made illegal by the National Committee for Drug Control as it was deemed that it “alludes to weed and other illegal substances.” In August of 2017, Saudi singer and actor Abdallah Al Shaharani was arrested for performing the move at a music festival in Ta’if.

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