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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. The source file (sk_baby.max) 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.
In late 1996, web developer John Woodell created a highly compressed animated GIF from the source movie, as part of a demo of the movie-to-GIF process, which further enabled the spread of the “Dancing Baby” across the Internet. Between 1996 and 1998, a slew of modified editions were made by fans across the world, including “Kung Fu baby”, “Rasta baby” and “Samurai baby” among others, though none became nearly as popular as the original GIF animation. The famous baby has made several TV commercial and media appearances as well, most notably as a recurring hallucination on the TV comedy-drama series Ally McBeal (shown below).
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-Baby.net – Welcome to the home of the original internet dancing baby!