what is dabbing?

Photo via HotNewHipHop/YouTube

Your guide to dabbing, a ‘new’ dance craze that already peaked

You have questions. We have dabs.


Ziwe Fumudoh

Internet Culture

Posted on Nov 20, 2015   Updated on May 27, 2021, 3:07 pm CDT

Dabbing is one the latest dance crazes to sweep the internet. And like its predecessor, the Nae Nae, it was dragged from the hip-hop community into the traffic-baiting morning news circuit, shifting from lit trend to tired fad.

Of course, this should come as no surprise. As a society, we don’t deserve to have fun things—we’ve lost all sense of propriety. Thus, here is your comprehensive explanation of the birth and death of dabbing.

First, it’s important to state that dabbing is also the term for smoking butane hash oil and extracting 90 percent of the THC. In other words, it gets you dumb high. No coincidence that this nonsensical dance that resembles proper seizing etiquette relates to being blazed out of one’s mind.

However, the dab dance originated in Atlanta, Georgia. There’s a great deal of controversy surrounding the pioneers of the dabbing dance, with the majority of credit going to the members of Quality Control label (including Migos, OG Maco, and Peewee Longway). Migos has gotten the bulk of credit for the trend since releasing the song “Bitch Dab” on Sept. 3, 2015.


Yet even fellow QC member OG Maco cited Skippa da Flippa as the dab originator in a since-deleted tweet:

In Skippa Da Flippa’s “How Fast,” you’ll see that he starts dabbing around 1:40.

You’ll notice that “How Fast” was released in July 2014 (a year before Migos’s single). So who is the true creator of the dab? We’ll leave that up to Black Twitter folklore. What we can be sure of is that soon after the dance appeared in Atlanta, the dab was spreading like a viral disease.

For your viewing pleasure, here is a tutorial on proper dab technique by QC member Rich the Kid.

Armed with this knowledge, please enjoy the best and worst dabs the Internet has to offer.

Here you can watch rap god Kendrick Lamar dabbing his way through a random wedding in Columbus, Ohio. Gracing the midwestern couple with his presence, he was initially harassed for his behavior before the family realized that the disruptive black guy was none other than national sensation Kendrick Lamar.

In perhaps the most legendary sports dab, Carolina Panther quarterback Cam Newton dabbed his way around the end zone, irking the entire Tennessee Titan roster (and at least one mom).

Please appreciate how he dabs away from Titans and referee in a doubly shady celebration.

After this miniature scuffle, it wasn’t long before the media ran with the viral dance. Here some elderly sportscasters awkwardly jerk around while attempting to dab, nearly falling out of their chairs.

And here is legendary announcer Cris Carter explaining “bapping,” which is like dabbing, but for older, sadder adults who have been eavesdropping on their children’s conversations.

And really it was downhill from there, with “behind-the-times” newscasters partaking in “the dab,” as they call it.

Whether good, bad, or downright ugly, the latest dance craze sweeping the Internet is always just another silly trend dragged into the mainstream with barely any juice left. It’s ridiculous, it’s dumb, and it’s viral.

And if, at any moment, you start to take dabbing too seriously, remember that Charlamagne tha God puts it all into the best perspective:

Update 2:40pm CT, Feb. 3, 2016: Thanks to Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers making the Super Bowl, dabbing actually went mainstream.

Update 11:15am, June 21, 2016: Cam Newton has officially retired from dabbing—and understandably so. At this point even Bill Gates has dabbed, and the craze took over the National Spelling Bee. This dab on Dell Curry after the NBA Finals was savage. 


Update 4:50pm, Oct. 6, 2016: Dabbing has undeniably gone global. Stuck on a roller coaster at Sea World Australia, a young boy dabbed as help arrived. 


But Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) may have had the dab to end all dabs. She closed her only debate before the Nov. 8 election with one baffling final gesture for the crowd.

Update 12:55am, Jan. 3, 2017: During the 2016 VMA’s, Rihanna was awarded the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award for her popular popular contribution to music. It was none other than Drake, her beau at the time, who accompanied her on stage to present the award to the singer with a heartfelt message.

What did Rihanna do in return? She dabbed.

Dabbing is a popular victory dance in sports, and it remains Newton’s favorite end zone celebration. To take his love for dabbing a step further, Quavo and Takeoff of the hip-hop group Migos gave Newton the official title of “Dab Daddy.”

Other football coaches like Jim Harbaugh of the University of Michigan wanted to steal to spotlight, too.

Like with all dabbing—unless it’s done poorly— the move can show a sense of extreme excitement, and this man behind Ryan Seacrest during Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve was really pumped about his moment of fame for five seconds.

Update 3:08pm, Jan. 4, 2017: While House Speaker Paul Ryan swore in the 115th Congress on Jan. 2, Rep. Roger Marshall’s son decided to dab in the middle of the ceremony. Ryan clearly didn’t understand what was going on and asked if Marshall’s son had to sneeze.

Who know’s if it’s considered wrong to dab on the Bible, but that kid is definitely grounded.

Update 10:11am, Jan. 13, 2017: At a CNN town hall event Thursday night, House Speaker Paul Ryan clarified for the record that he does, in fact, know what a dab is, and proceeded to demonstate how to dab.

Update 1:43pm, March 2, 2017: Not to be outdone, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid tribute to the dab during a photo op at the Centre Block in Ottawa in February. The prime minister had met with schoolchildren attending speeches in the building for Black History Month and dabbed while taking a photo with other adults speaking to the school group.

It was fun while it lasted.

Additional reporting by Kristen Hubby and Austin Powell

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*First Published: Nov 20, 2015, 11:50 am CST