The story behind the floss dance

Every generation has its dance craze. Throughout the years, the “Twist,” the “YMCA” and the “Macarena” have all swept the nation. In 2018, it was all about “The Floss.”

If you’re over the age of 20 and have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re not alone. But you also probably don’t spend any time around kids.

The quirky dance was first executed by 16-year-old Russell Horning, aka The Backpack Kid. Horning posted a video of himself doing the silly dance on Instagram in August 2016, and it quickly gained widespread attention. He even caught the notice of pop star Katy Perry, and Horning performed the move alongside her during an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” on May 20, 2017. Check it out in the video below:

As you can see, the dance move involves swinging your arms in a way that mimics flossing your teeth, hence the name.

Horning never dreamed that his dance would become so popular, let alone a bona fide viral sensation.

I was looking in the mirror one day, and I was dancing and I thought, ‘This has a nice little groove to it.’ So I started doing it on Instagram,” Horning explained to Yahoo Lifestyle of how he came up with the dance. “I had 393 followers at the time, and I said, ‘All right, guys, let’s get to 400.’ And I woke up, and it was 4,000.”

About a year ago, “The Floss” showed up in the popular video game Fortnite, further increasing its popularity among kids. “The Floss” is available as an emote, which are dances that characters are able to do to celebrate a victory. Like a touchdown celebration dance for video games.

fortnite photo
Getty Images | Christian Petersen

When I visited Disney World with my elementary and middle school-aged nephews and niece this past summer, I saw kids doing the dance everywhere. When I tried to attempt the dance myself, I officially felt old.

Now, Horning’s mother has filed a lawsuit on her son’s behalf against Epic Games, Take-Two Interactive, 2K Sports and Visual Concepts Entertainment for using the dance moves in their games without Horning’s permission. Lawsuits against the companies have also been brought forth by Alfonso Ribiero of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and rapper 2 Millie, whose dances were also used without permission. All three are represented by Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP, and the suits allege copyright infringement and violations of the right of publicity. It’s yet to be determined how these cases will fare in court, as there’s no precedent.

“We don’t know the answer to whether a dance move can be copyrighted,” Merlyne Jean-Louis, an entertainment lawyer and former dancer, told The Verge. “There’s no definitive case law determining this.”

I’m guessing the legal drama will not have an impact on the dance’s popularity, however. Just peruse any of the 40,000-plus posts with the hashtag #flossdance on Instagram to see some examples. Happy flossing!