The Dancing Baby: The Internet’s First Viral Meme


Nowadays, we expect our computer generated images to look totally realistic. Talking animals, enchanted trees, Nordic superheroes—we look for detailed perfection in our CG images. However, back in the day we were thrilled by a lumpy, waxen, and expressionless toddler dancing the cha-cha in his (or her?) diaper.

In 1996, the Character Studio development team released the video, with “Toddler in Diaper” as one of the 3D character “skins.” Techies in the U.S. immediately gave them mad props for their advanced skills. Users and animators circulated these clips of a 3D animation baby through the Internet and on television. The Dancing Baby grew into a legit phenomenon with a recurrent gig on Ally McBeal (1997-2002). Ally, whose biological clock ticked away throughout the show, hallucinated about the talented toddler in episode 12 of season one. The baby boogies to Blue Swede’ s “Hooked on a Feeling” — ooga chuka ooga ooga.


Not surprisingly, retail opportunities beckoned savvy entrepreneurs. We snapped these goodies up back in the ’90s, but Dancing Baby clothing and accessories are still available today if you’re willing to shell out a few beans. Scope out Internet retailers for items such as tees, brooches and more.

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As a genre, Dancing Babies are irresistible and clearly not going anywhere. And sure, they’re glossier and more realistic, but, thanks to Ally McBeal, the original Dancing Baby will forever have a place in the hearts of ’90s kids. Now if only we could memorize those moves and break them out on the dance floor.

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