Dabbing (Dance)

My informant is Grant, a 19-year-old male student at USC. Grant was born and raised in Los Angeles, however his father is from Iran and his mother is from Japan. Both of these cultures influence his life in different ways. This piece of folklore is a tradition performed on a holiday.

Do you know any folkdance or a form of dance you’ve learned from others?

Grant: “Does dabbing count? (laughing)”

Yeah you can talk about dabbing! So explain it what is “dabbing”?

Grant: “Yeah dabbing, its like popular now in hip-hop and rap that made it famous. You just kind of bend your arm like a chicken wing and drop your head to your elbow”

That’s a dance move?

Grant: “Yeah a lot of rappers do it but celebrities really made it famous and you see it all over twitter and other social media”

Was there anyone specific that started this dance move or do you know the origins?

Grant: “I don’t know exactly but I know it became popular because of Cam Newton. He would dab during all his football games when he scored or even when he had a good play he would just celebrate. I also know the move comes from taking a “dab” which is like smoking but harsher so you have to cough afterwards. The dab is like a cough but as a dance move”

Do you think people know it originated from smoking?

Grant: “I don’t think so, I think it started out that way but once celebrities made it common and little kids and parents started doing it and I definitely don’t think they know it came from smoking”

So would you say all age groups do it?

Grant: “Yeah you see little kids doing it all the time on tv and twitter and even grandparents but I don’t think they know what they’re doing”


I like this piece of folklore because it began as a dance started by popular culture about smoking drugs but through the mass use of the dance move by celebrities and then by their followers it turned into an innocent dance move almost known by everyone.