Escalator Spin

Escalator Spin

Updated Dec 26, 2011 at 12:30AM EST by James.

Added Feb 26, 2010 at 01:03PM EST by Mellow.

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Escalator Spin (also known as "Escalopter") is a series of YouTube videos featuring individuals lying down in between two escalator rails moving in opposite direction, which results in perpetual rotation of the subject caused by centripetal force and friction against the rubber surface. This phenomenon is not to be confused with Asiacopter, a stop-motion GIF series that began on YTMND in July 2005.


Early examples of "Escalator Spin" videos began to surface on YouTube[1] sometime in July 2006. But, as one can see from the view counts and other statistics, these videos attracted relatively low viewcounts (less than 50,000 views for the most-viewed instance).


Then on June 18th, 2008, a video clip titled "Pretty blond girl spinning on an escalator" was posted on[2] The watermarked video was then subsequently featured on Youtube:

The attractive-looking girl's escalator spinning video drew mass appeal from the YouTube audience as well as other blogs and video-sharing communities, such as Gizmodo[3], I-am-Bored[4] and Videosift.[5] The videos even spawned some GIF derivatives on YTMND.[6]

Escalopter Videos in Germany

The mindless pastime eventually became an international phenomenon, drawing participation from YouTubers in Europe and Asia as well. In October 2008, a German YouTuber madassk[7] created a single topic blog for sharing Escalator Spin videos under the domain name of[8] Some days later, the first Urban Dictionary[9] definition for the term "Escalopter" was registered:

The novel activity executed on an escalator, whereby subject lies rigid with mid to lower back touching both handrails moving in opposing directions, and spinning slowly around in place.

How-To Video

Centripetal Force & Uniform Circular Motion

diagram illustrating how centripetal force works

In physics, the mechanism behind "Escalator Spinning" can be explained in terms of centripetal force and uniform circular motion. Based on Issac Newton's 2nd Law, centripetal force[10] is a force that makes a body follow a curved path, directed inward towards the center of curvature. Applying this center-oriented force along with surface friction, one can reach a state of uniform circular motion[11], during which the body traverses a circular path at a constant speed.

diagram illustrating how centrifugal force works

However, there's always a reason to be careful in attempting "Escalator Spin." This centripetal force that keeps the body spinning in circular motion also comes with a treacherous counterpart that may throw the subject off-rails instantly, which is known as "reactive centrifugal force."

YouTube Videos

Escalator Spin – TheDannShow

External References

[1] YouTube – Search Results for Escalator Spin

[2] BoFunk – Chick Spinning on Escalator Railing

[3] Gizmodo – Girl Spins on Escalator Thanks to Physics or Magic,

[4] I-am-Bored – Girl Spinning on Escalator Railing

[5] Videosift – Girl spins on escalator

[6] YTMND – Spin Like a Record.

[7] YouTube – Madassk's User Profile

[8] – Escalopter

[9] Urban Dictionary – Definition of Escalopter

[10] Wikipedia – Centripetal Force

[11] Wikipedia – Uniform Circular Motion

[12] Wikipedia – Reactive Centrifugal Force.

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Top Comments


I believe the explanation at the bottom about centripetal is incorrect. Escalator spin is all about torque. A centripetal force is a force directed towards the center of a circular path. However, in this case the person on the escalator is not moving in a circular path, and the the force from the escalator is not directed towards the center. In this case the persons upper and lower body are pivoting around the center of their body and the escalator is providing two equal torques tangent to the persons rotation.


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