From Fortnite to the classroom: the ‘floss’ dance craze sweeping schools

Fidget spinners, dabbing, bottle flipping… teachers can find it hard to keep up with every new fad, so here’s the low down on the floss dance and how to deal with it in your classroom.

Joshua Morris

Floss Dance SNL

Have your students been stiffly swinging their arms and hips from side to side in a bizarre asymmetric rhythm? If you have yet to witness this 'dance' it won't be long before you do.  

For the ‘floss’ dance has quickly picked up momentum over the past few months and, for many teachers, it’s now difficult to get through the day without seeing kids flossing in the classroom like the Backpack Kid from this viral video sensation.

But where did this come from, and what exactly is it all about? 

Where did it come from?

Fifteen-year-old Russell Horning, better known as The Backpack Kid, is the creator of the floss dance. Horning was already popular on social media for posts of his stiff-armed dancing, but he was then picked up by Saturday Night Live to perform the ‘floss’ dance as part of Katy Perry’s Swish Swish performance.


Since then, the floss dance has grown in popularity, spreading across social media with the likes of Stranger Things star Millie Bobby-Brown and England footballer Dele Alli posting their own renditions of the awkward shimmy.

The dance also comes hand in hand with another big trend of 2018 that will have been impossible to avoid in the classroom, the massively popular multiplayer video game Fortnite.

In Fortnite - a game where players fight it out to be the last one standing - users can choose from a wide variety of celebratory dance moves from viral videos such as Flossing, Gangnam Style, Dabbing, and dances from TV shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Scrubs.

Floss emote Fortnite

How do you ‘floss’?

Backpack Kid

Remote file

You begin the dance with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your feet planted to the ground, swing your hips stiffly side to side like a pendulum and swing your arms in rhythm to the opposite sides.

Now that you’ve got the swinging down and you’re beginning to look completely ridiculous, cement your dedication to personal embarrassment by attempting the most difficult part of the dance, bringing your outside arm behind your back on every third swing.

If that has you completely tangled up, you’re not alone. The dance is similar to rubbing your belly and patting your head, mastering the dance is likely a point of pride for the students that get it.


So, what can you do to deal with the floss dance?

When flossing sways its way into lesson time, something needs to be done before it gets out of hand. Most teachers will simply use the behaviour policy to stamp it out. 

However, Simon Hunt, a teacher at Tottington Primary School in Manchester, argues that if you can't beat them, join them.

Hunt posted a video of his students teaching him the dance on his Facebook page and it quickly gained thousands of views. He used that as an opportunity to engage his students in the classroom.


“On the back of the video, I was able to do a really productive lesson with the kids on the impact of social media, the right to your own opinion, and internet safety,” he says. 

Instead of ignoring the problem of flossing, Hunt turned it into a chance to use his students' interests to benefit learning in the classroom.

“If you just ask the kids what they’re interested in, it can be a really good thing. It builds up the relationship. Taking an interest lets your student’s guard down,” he says. 

Hunt also had poet Paul Jenkins come to see the class and perform poetry about flossing with the students.

“Most of the boys in my class would never do poetry, but, because it was about flossing, they were desperate to do it,” he explains. 

Perhaps most importantly for some of the worried teachers out there reading, Hunt believes that embracing flossing and other trends like this make dealing with students doing the dance much easier.

“Because I’ve talked to them about it, I have more authority. Now, I can ask them to stop flossing and they will,” he says.

Maybe posting a video of yourself attempting the dance for all the world to see isn’t the answer for you, but until you try it, you may never really know how powerful a floss may be... 

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Joshua Morris

Joshua Morris

Joshua Morris is staff writer at Tes

Find me on Twitter @joshua_tes

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