Who Invented the Dab? (Invention Timeline Explained)

Humans love to dance. Dancing is a form of art. Countries have various dances reflecting their traditions, culture, and beliefs. It is also a way of expressing our joy, sorrow, anger, triumph, love, and other deep emotions that we can’t express in words alone. We tend to include dances in our celebrations. We dance at weddings, birthdays, victory and graduation parties. Our ancestors danced during their rituals, harvest time, and pass time. Can you imagine how dull our lives would be without dancing?

Dancing is an integral part of our society, so as we evolve, dancing evolves with us. We have new trends in dancing now and then. One dance craze that spread like wildfire back in 2015 is dabbing. This article will take you back to your dabbing era as it tackles the history and background of this dance craze.

Who invented the first dab?

The Japanese anime creators used the dab gesture for several characters. Michael and Janet Jackson used it in their music videos. But, the person who formally invented it was Skippa Da Flippa.

The dab’s key contributors (and evolution)

  • Asians
    The Sentai Move

    The dab move (although it was not yet named dab back then) was used by several anime characters in the 1900s. The most popular are the superheroes from Power Rangers (Super Sentai) and Masked Rider (Kamen Rider), which used the sentai move as their signature pose. It was also used in the opening scene of Detective Conan.

  • Korean and American Dance Groups
    Snappy Move

    Crayon Pop, a Korean dance group, used dab dance in one of their concerts in 2010. It was also used by Poreotics, an American dance crew, in one of their performances.

  • Skippa Da Flippa
    The Origin of the Move

    The dab, as a dance move, was invented by Skippa Da Flippa. This is proclaimed and verified by Quality Control Music. It was first performed in the hip-hop scene in Atlanta.

  • Bow Wow
    Cannabis Dabbers Community

    A rapper named Bow Wow hypothesized that the Dab move was associated with the use of cannabis. According to him, users of cannabis used this gesture whenever they sniff cannabis. This claim was quickly turned down by the hip-hop community.

  • Michael and Janet Jackson
    Smooth Criminal and If

    Other people argue that the dab dance move originated from Michael Jackson. If you’re going to watch the music video for Smooth Criminal, you’ll notice some of Jackson’s steps are similar to dabbing. Janet Jackson also used the step in her song “If” in 1993.

  • Cam Newton

    In 2015, Cam Newton used dabbing as a way to celebrate touchdowns during their game. Since then, people have used it whenever they accomplished something they are proud of.

When was the dab invented?

Dab was first seen in animes like Dragon Ball Z, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, and Detective Conan in the early 90s. It was first seen in a dance move by Michael Jackson in 1988. However, the person credited to its formal invention was Skippa Da Filippa in 2010.

A brief history of dabs

The dab was first seen in animes as a gesture of different superheroes. The Japanese actually call it “sentai move.” It was seen multiple times in famous anime series from the 1990s like Dragon Ball Z, Masked Rider, Power Rangers, and Detective Conan. It also appeared in the 2010 anime series “Love Live!”. Some famous dance crews also used the dab move in their production numbers, such as the Crayon Pop (K-pop group) and Poreotics (American dance group).

Michael Jackson used a similar dance move in his famous song “Smooth Criminal.” However, Jackson’s move is slightly different from the original dab pose. Janet Jackson also used it in her song “If” music video in 1993.

In 2012, an American rapper named Skippa Da Flippa formally invented the dab dance move. He performed it at a hip-hop event in Atlanta. From then, dabbing slowly gained popularity, and in 2014, it reached its peak. Almost everyone is making the dab move. Students, dancers, influencers, politicians, and celebrities loved the trend. Migos, another rap group, released a song entitled “Look at My Dap” in 2015. They claimed they invented the move, but Skippa Da Flippa won the battle. 

For a while, the dab move was associated with cannabis users. This is because of the statement of Bow Wow, an American rapper, about the dance move’s similarities with the gestures used by the cannabis dabbers community.

Nowadays, the dab move remains an iconic dance step with a statement. It represents the modern culture of popularity and trends. Dancers still use it as a way to mark a drop or a filler step. People still pose for group pictures while dabbing. The dab move is no longer in the spotlight, and all the hype dried down. However, it is still a special move that can bring back so many memories.

The dab timeline

  1. 1988
    Smooth Criminal

    A different version of the dab dance move was used by Michael Jackson in the music video of his top hit, “Smooth Criminal.”

  2. 1990’s
    The Anime World

    The world of superheroes and animes featured an iconic gesture called “Senpai Move.” Many characters used this move during their fight scenes, opening scenes, and posings.

  3. 2010
    The Official Invention

    Skippa Da Flippa is the man behind the official invention of the dab dance move. It was recorded and confirmed by the Quality Control Music label.

  4. 2012
    Bow Wow Said

    Bow Wow started a controversy about dabbing when he associated it with the cannabis dabbers community. Several angry fans on social media disapproved his claim.

  5. 2014
    Dabbing Everywhere

    2014 is the peak of dab’s popularity. People everywhere are dabbing. For dances, for group pictures, and social media trends. Politicians, celebrities, dancers, and ordinary people all love this move.

Where was the dab invented?

The first use of dab as a gesture/pose was in different animes in Japan. It was formally invented as a dance move by Skippa Da Flippa in Atlanta.

The importance of the dab

  • In dancing

    Dabbing is very simple dance step with a big impact on the audience. It is used by dancers of hip-hop and modern music as a filler or a way to end a series. The key is to be snappy with the move to make it look impressive. Even beginners can do it perfectly.

  • Form of exercise 

    Having regular exercise is perfect for our body, especially when getting old. Repetitively doing the dab step can make you feel better because it can hone your muscles. Aside from exercising, it is also an excellent way to be entertained.

  • Excellent for groupies

    Dabbing is not for an individual only. Inviting a couple of friends is a better idea. Try to dab with your friends to test your coordination with them. It’s also a lot of fun to take groupies while dabbing.

  • It builds confidence.

    Like what we’ve established, dabbing is a reasonably easy dance step to make. You just need to imagine yourself sneezing and covering your nose using the crook of your elbow, and you’re already dabbing! It builds confidence for beginners and non-professional dancers. 

The dab by the numbers

  • 2017Dabbing is illegal in Saudi Arabia. In 2017, a singer and actor named Abdallah Al Shaharani performed at a music festival. We still do not know if he did it on purpose, but he dabbed. He was arrested afterwards.
  • 80Dabbing is also for royalties. During the 80th birthday celebration of Queen Sonja and Kung Harald V of Norway, their grandson Price Sverre Magnus dabbed.
  • 2You can make a snappy dab in two steps. Number 1, raise your arms pointing upward (either pointing to the right or both pointing to the left). Number 2, look down in the opposite direction.
  • 2016Hillary Clinton, then a presidential candidate, dabbed on her TV appearance as a guess on The Ellen De Generes Show.

Five facts about the dab

  • Gohan did it!

    People, especially children, love the Japanese anime Dragon Ball Z and one of its characters is Gohan, the son of the main protagonist, Goku. While training with his father, Gohan occasionally made the dab move while wearing a superhero suit and a helmet.

  • Dabbing in Politics

    Many political figures joined the dabbing trend. Hillary Clinton, Roger Marshall, Paul Ryan, Emmanuel Macron, Francois Fillon, Benoit Hamon, and Bill Shorten are some brave souls who tried it on national TV and in public events.

  • Dabbing is Illegal

    Not all countries in the world are the same. We have different cultures, traditions and beliefs. In Saudi Arabia, dabbing is illegal since they believe it was directly connected to the promotion of illegal drugs. Actors, singers, and football players who did not follow this law were imprisoned and criticized.

  • Dabbing in Magazine 

    Because of the trend and popularity of dabbing, it is also featured in a magazine. The XXL magazine featured Jason Derulo teaching the dab steps to James Corden. It is also aired on The Late Late Show with James Corden. 

  • The Royal Dab

    Being a royal family member is a privilege, but they also want to be part of the trend. One of the royal family members of British, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex,  also did the dab in front of the young people right after giving a high five. 

FAQ about the dab

  • What is dabbing?

    Dabbing is a gesture that shows playfulness or victory, or it can also be a dance step in hip hop.

  •  Why is dabbing popular?

    Dabbing or the dab became popular after some professional football players used it as a victory gesture in their winning game. Then, it became a phenomenal dance step craze. 

  • Why do people dab?

    People enjoy dabbing because it is fun and easy to do. Younger people use it to pose for groupies. Older people use dabbing as a form of light exercise.

  • Why is it called dabbing?

    The name “dabbing” is actually a reference to the gestures used when people are extracting and smoking Marijuana.

  • Is it okay to dab?

    Yes. It is perfectly OK to use dabbing as a fun gesture to celebrate victory or express amazement and happiness. However, other people find it offensive because of its connection to the use of Cannabis. So, be mindful of the people around you if you plan on dabbing.

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