Two years. It became a thing a whole two years ago and my students still, in times of joy, default to the only dance move that matters to anyone under ten: The Running Man.
Don’t misunderstand. This is not the proper Running Man dance move made popular in the 80’s. This is a bastardization of that move. The Running Man the kids out here are doing is turned to the side and drops the pumping arms in favor of some pointing at the sky. Well, not the sky. At a shooting star. The modified dance move is straight out of the music video and performances of the song “R.Y.U.S.E.I” or “Shooting Star”.
It’s Exile’s fault. Or rather, Sandaime J Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE. For the uninitiated, Exile is, or mostly was, a split boyband. Most boybands are all about the song and dance and pretty boy image all in the same package. Each member of a regular boy band is supposed to look like a model, sing like an angel, and dance like an acrobat. It’s the boyband formula, right? But Exile split the responsibility. Exile is-or-was a group with some attractive singers and some attractive dancers and together they were-or-are a performance behemoth. Exile was once a single group. Now they’re a media empire. (Ever heard of e-girls?) And the en vogue off shoot of the moment is “Third Generation” Sandaime J Soul Brothers.
This version of Exile, Sandaime, is pretty popular with the sporty boys because of the man’s man image the group projects. Members of Sandaime are cool in a way the ladies love and male tweens aspire to, unlike their competition; those Johnny’s boybands who are usually exclusively cool in a way that women want to fuck. You know how it is.
Little boys who are into sports and just learning how to perform masculinity find Sandaime to be a really safe band to like. And, in 2014, they became a safe band to emulate. Everyone had to do the Running Man. There were viral videos of toddlers doing it! The strange thing is, it never died down. To this day I have students whose victory dance is the Running Man. They get a question right; win a game; say something witty and off they go into Running Man.
This isn’t unheard of. Exile also gave us that fist pumping choo choo train dance move years ago. And that never really died either. But, the Running Man only takes one person to perform so I don’t see it fading away anytime soon.