Dabbing should be a universal right


After watching the seventh K-pop performance include a dab in its choreography back in August, I was sick and tired of the fad. Comments like, “this is so late!” and, “when will this go away?” spammed the YouTube comments under each video.

At that point, I couldn’t agree more with these fed up anonymous commenters. Dabbing, a dance move which some say looks like sneezing, originated from hip-hop and continued to be popularized in 2015 by individuals like Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers. After sweeping the internet as a widespread meme and easy-to-follow trend, dabbing managed to spread like the infectious sneezing it resembles.

But even following its explosion almost 3 years later, dabbing has still not died. Spin-offs of the modern dab are still being “invented” on football fields, high school classrooms and talk shows. Even I, well-known as a loathing critique of the undead meme, am hypocritically guilty of consistently dabbing in awkward situations and during robotics competitions.

Dabbing has transformed into a contemporary symbol of stale youthful fun, originating from the most “hip” source: an outbreak on social media. And now, everyone from Justin Bieber to Hillary Clinton has taken part in the practice, happily pseudo-sneezing the move into the realm of excruciatingly overplayed.

But despite its annoying nature, a simple cultural trend chalked up to ease and popularity is an unfortunate representation of the looming privilege of free speech. In some locations, particularly Saudi Arabia, dabbing has been banned, holding serious legal consequences for any that commit the offense. Saudi Arabia’s National Commission for Combating Drugs has proclaimed that the trend as promotes drug use, issuing an official warning against imitation of the terrible dance move.

Around the same time, some of my favorite pop stars were topping charts with their repetitive dabbing. Saudi pop singer Abdallah Al Shahani was arrested for spontaneously dabbing at a music festival.

As recently as Jan. 3, a soccer player in Saudi Arabia faced public and potentially legal scrutiny for the same reason. During a match, the unnamed player for Saudi club Al Nojoom dabbed instead of high-fiving an individual offering an outstretched hand. In the recording of the “smooth” moment, a TV commentator of the game can be heard saying “no, no, no.”

Much of the social media response to the event within the country largely echoed this sentiment, stirring an online debate between those demanding the footballer’s imprisonment and those in favor of the daring dabber.

These incidents serve to demonstrate that acceptance of  “western trends” varies by country and location. Parts of India, South Korea and Norway will receive the dab differently than portions of England, Saudi Arabia and other places within India. Divisions and regional differences are a natural and widespread element of the world. But these severely differing reactions and treatments of merely dabbing should not exist. Dabbing deserves to be a universal right, and beginning truly global acceptance of the simple dance move could signal an incredibly positive shift in freedom of self-expression and unharmful allowance of meme-ing.

Simply stated, no one should dab. The fad is desperately overdone and generically served for too many years on the global dinner table of memes. But every single person, regardless of geographic location or government, should be able to bite into a serving of dab to their heart’s content.