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Dancing Baby, also known as “Baby Cha-Cha,” is a viral video of a 3D-rendered baby dancing to the intro of “Hooked on a Feeling” by the Swedish rock band Blue Swede. Widely cited as one of the earliest examples of an Internet phenomenon, the Dancing Baby became globally popular via e-mail chains in 1996.
The original “cha-cha” dance file was developed by Michael Girard and Robert Lurye. It was released in Autumn 1996 as part of product sample source files included in Character Studio, a 3D character animation software. Ron Lussier, who was working for LucasArts at the time, tweaked the original file and shared it with coworkers via email, sparking the baby’s internet travels:
I showed it to a few people and one of them asked me to forward it to them in e-mail. A week or so later I heard from fellow employees that the animation was traveling through the company via e-mail… then a bit later, I heard people say they had received it back again from people outside the company, across the country. From that it quickly traveled to the internet and became the strange phenomenon that it was.
For more scoops on the history of Dancing Baby, check out Lussier’s Dancing Baby FAQ page.
Different versions were created by fans all over the world, including a “Kung Fu baby”, a “Rasta baby”, “Samurai baby” and others, but none were nearly as popular as the original GIF animation. Since taking off, the famous baby has appeared several times in the media and dozens of parodies have been made. It was also featured as a recurring hallucination on the TV comedy-drama series “Ally McBeal”.
As illustrated in the chart, the meme’s popularity has been steadily declining in search queries throughout the 2000s. The term “Dancing Baby” peaked in both September 2009 and June 2010, but referred to viral YouTube videos of actual babies dancing. Tribute sites still remain to this day, such as megababy.com.
Dancing Babies on YouTube
Doing a simple keyword search of “Dancing Baby” on YouTube reveals that new generations of dancing babies in continue to make people laugh: