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An Internet phenomenon takes the real world by storm.
By Sabrina Dent, Forum Manager

Animated gif--please wait

The Dancing Baby is perhaps the Internet’s strangest example of how life imitates art. What, you may ask, is the Dancing Baby? It’s an 8 second video file of an animated baby, dancing.

As babies go, the Dancing Baby is quite old. It first appeared in Internet mailboxes in October of 1996, dancing to the "ooga-chaka" melody in Blue Swedes "Hooked On a Feeling." Since it’s birth, the Dancing Baby has been an Internet celebrity, customised by animators and graphics artists everywhere to create almost 50 versions of the original baby, including Rasta Baby, Military Baby and Baby Macarena. It’s such an established icon of Internet culture that Yahoo! has a "Dancing Baby" category under Humor/Bizarre. (It lists 62 sites)

Not content to conquer the virtual world, Dancing Baby has now taken the real world by storm. Following an appearance on the hit TV show Ally McBeal (where the Baby danced through Ally’s dreams to remind her of her ticking biological clock), the Dancing Baby has also featured on GMTV and on various radio programmes as well. When baby’s second appearance Ally McBeal is broadcast in Britain, interest should increase even more.

What’s interesting about this is not only the Baby (which is fascinating in it’s own bizarre way), but the main stream attention to it. Traditionally, the ‘net has taken it’s cue from the rest of the world, using the informality of the web to showcase parody and humour or house debate. In this instance, however, popular culture and main-steam media have taken their cue from the Internet, giving Dancing Baby a whole new world to play in.

Thus, there is evidence that the Internet is entering a new age of maturity, finding the broad-based acceptance and stature it previously lacked. How this unfolds in the future will be interesting to watch, but undoubtedly some of the creative and ingenious ideas floating around in today’s cyberspace will find homes in the popular culture of tomorrow.

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