If you have kids of a certain age and they are exhibiting strange behaviours like weird choreographed dances, they have likely been exposed to a video game called Fortnite.
In case you’re childless and/or live in a cave, here’s Fortnite in a nutshell: it’s a multi-player survival game that takes place in an alternate version of earth, where extreme weather wipes out 98 percent of the world’s population, and the remaining two percent are left to defend themselves against zombie-like creatures.
It’s currently the hottest thing in video games, with close to 125 million players around the world. Its popularity is mostly due to the fact that it’s available on almost every gaming device (Playstation, Xbox, PC, iPhone, and Android), and the “Battle Royale” mode is free to play. Another big draw is the social interactivity: players can team up with others and interact through voice chat.
But what really sets Fortnite apart is its style. It has a fresh and colourful aesthetic with lots of humour, and characters’ looks are customizable with unique clothing and gear. Players can also buy victory dances (or “emotes”) that their characters do to celebrate a kill.
The designers of Fortnite didn’t come up with most of these moves; in fact, many of them are based on pop culture or little-known internet memes. But now these dances are being done by millions of kids around the world because of Fortnite. Here are some examples of moves you’ve likely seen performed in your kitchen, and an explanation of their origin:
This move looks weird but it’s really fun to do. 16-year-old Russell Horning, also known as “Backpack Kid,” originated it on his Instagram page in 2016, and it quickly caught on with people copying his move all over the internet. He was even invited to perform it with Katy Perry on Saturday Night Live in 2017, and it finally made its way into Fortnite.
Good luck keeping a straight face for this one. The “Best Mates” dance was first seen in a hilarious and strange Facebook video called “The Band of the Bold” by a creator named Marlon Webb, then affectionately re-named “When You Go Out With Your Best Mates” by fans. Many other creators made their own tributes to “Best Mates,” doing the dance at school, at work, and with characters in other video games. Fortnite, of course, created its own tribute as well.
Ask any kid in the know, and they’ll tell you that the Dab is dead, but like cockroaches and Keith Richards, it seems to stick around way longer than it should. Pop culture historians mostly agree that the Dab originated in the Atlanta hip-hop scene in the early 2010s, then gained popularity when professional athletes started using it as a victory dance on the field. The move reached the mainstream around 2016, but once grown-ups like Hillary Clinton and Prince Harry started catching on, kids inevitably moved on. But Fortnite didn’t!
If you’re of parenting age, you likely remember the hit ’90s TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and the nerdy character of Carlton, played by Alfonso Ribeiro. Carlton loved to dance, even though he was pretty terrible at it, and did so at any given opportunity. In 2014, Ribeiro competed on Dancing with the Stars (and handily won!), and treated the audience to “The Carlton” in a few of his performances. The rest is Fortnite history.
This dance had a long journey before it got to Fortnite. Earlier this year, Fortnite’s studio Epic Games held a competition called #BoogieDown in which fans submitted videos of their best moves to be considered for an emote in the newest version of the game. When the winning dance was announced, some fans protested loudly that their favourite video wasn’t chosen – a somewhat cringe-worthy but adorable dance by a kid in an orange shirt with the handle @Kid_fortnite12. Epic Games took notice and added his dance into the mix as well, hence the name “Orange Justice.”
@Kid_fornite12’s dance is an awkward interpretation of a move by another internet sensation, Roy Purdy, a 20-year-old YouTuber from Wisconsin who has been on the scene since 2016 with his brightly coloured wardrobe and videos of jubilant public dancing. That rubber-legged, arm flailing wiggle is one of Purdy’s signature moves, and is clearly the inspiration for @Kid_fortnite12’s #BoogieDown submission. (Some would say that Roy Purdy’s inspiration came from the Cybergoth Dance Party video that went mega-viral back in 2011, but that’s a whole other story.)
So, now that you’re caught up with some of the Fortnite dance moves, why not try a few yourself? Don’t forget to stretch first, and be prepared to completely freak out your kids.
BONUS CONTENT: If you’re not Fortnite-d out yet, enjoy this video of professional dancers trying the moves in real life. These dances are no joke!
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