At first, you might have thought a sneezing episode had gripped the classroom and students had taken it upon themselves to maintain hygiene levels. In time, you learnt they were actually dabbing: a dance-craze that rose to prominence last year and that had young people fixated and teachers scratching their heads.
The ‘Dab’ looked set to be left in 2016, until the teenage son of a US congressman ‘busted’ the move at his father’s swearing-in ceremony.
It left speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan very confused.
Just finished swearing-in photos. Nearly 300 members. Countless cute kids. Still don't get what dabbing is, though. pic.twitter.com/E2hFgyPYZT— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) January 3, 2017
So it seems that for many teachers, ‘the Dab’ is going nowhere - it has moved from fad to fixture. To help you cope – and we realise we are late to the party here, sorry, we were busy dabbing – here is everything you need to know about it.
What is ‘dabbing?’
Dabbing is a physical act of expression, whereby you raise a bent arm to cover your face, while extending your opposite arm outwards and upwards. Make sure to hide your face in the crook of your elbow at the same time, all in one swift motion.
Where does dabbing come from?
The ‘Dab’ was originally pioneered by Hip Hop artists and, despite a contentious debate over who actually started it, it was turned into a sensation by American-footballer Cam Newton through his touchline celebrations. The phenomenon invaded internet culture and featured heavily on the now-defunct social media app, Vine.
Why have schoolchildren picked it up?
Oliver Riding, who teaches Maths at Coventry’s Caludon Castle School, recalls when dabbing first reared its head. He says: “I think the first time I saw it was when a group of young people were asking a teacher to do it last summer.
“To be honest, I think you’ve got one set of students who’ve seen celebs, like Paul Pogba, do it on TV and another who copy their friends and it spiralled from there.”
Is it customary to throw a plastic bottle before attempting a ‘Dab’?
Ah, you mean bottle flipping.
“The plastic bottle flipping is just a massive thing on its own," says Mr Riding. "It’s a very loud and irritating craze that must have been going for over a year now, and they’re still doing it whenever they get a chance. It’s genuinely such an issue that they’ve been talked to about a complete ban on it in assembly. They dab when they land them. But they’re always dabbing all the time too.”
Can it be a bit of a distraction?
“It is absolutely a distraction,” says Mr Riding. “You get someone being a bit silly and doing it mid-sneeze to make a scene, and everyone loses their concentration. They know it’s a silly, inoffensive celebration that they can do and not really get into too much trouble.
“I think you sound like a spoilsport by telling them off for it, and having the debate just makes a bigger issue.”
Should teachers have a go?
Mr Riding often attempts to avoid it. “It’s really awkward when the kids ask you to do it, unless you can quickly change the subject. If I refuse, it’s like I’m no fun.
“One member of staff did it after he won the award for ‘funniest teacher’ at the Year 11 awards ceremony, and it was a genuinely funny and unexpected response."
How long do you think it's going to last and what will replace it?
“I’m sure if they weren’t dabbing they’d be doing something else. It’ll be around until something else appears on YouTube,” says Mr Riding.
Whether or not you choose to dabble in ‘dabbing’ or you are firmly opposed to this latest schoolyard invasion, the fact the ‘Dab’ can also be used as a learning resource is undoubtedly good news... right?
Ryan Watts is a freelance journalist