By Julie-Ann Sherlock

I like to boogie on down with the best of them on a night out, but now, with dodgy knees and a realisation that I ain’t no Michael Jackson when it comes to throwing shapes, shaking it like a polaroid picture has become less of a part of my life. But, once upon a time, I was that dancing queen, or at least I thought I was!

They say you should dance like no one is watching, but what happens when billions of people look on? No, I am not talking about the professional dancers at the Super Bowl or Olympics opening ceremony; I am referring to the trend of TikTok dances.

Average movers and groovers are now gaining worldwide audiences as they shake what their mama gave them in front of their mobile phones. And it’s not just the young ones! Shock! Horror! OLD PEOPLE are even getting into the TikTok dance craze. But what is it all about? And are we heading for a new level of addiction to shimmying the night away?

I Blame COVID

The recent pandemic caused chaos in our world. People died or got very sick, and there were lockdowns worldwide. But COVID-19 also unleashed another side effect of the killer bug: TikTok dance challenges. 

With boredom seeping from our pores and a desire to avoid piling on the pounds, thanks to the copious amounts of banana bread we were all eating, many took the extreme step of embarrassing themselves online by engaging in dance challenges. Celebrities, toddlers and senior citizens all fell foul to the new dance disease sweeping the world, with some very entertaining results. 

The nascent social media platform found its wings during the pandemic, with people having little else to do but stay home to stay safe. But why did dancing your socks off and allowing strangers worldwide to watch become a thing?

The Science Bit

The act of dancing increases the production of the feel-good hormone dopamine and reduces the levels of stress-inducing cortisol. When we were all stressed to the max and worried every time we coughed or got a tickle in our throat, finding a way to counterbalance this fear was vital. Enter the TikTok dancing trend. 

Whether we watched others attempting to do splits to WAP or let our sass shine through to Savage, we were cha-cha-sliding all over the place and becoming Men in Black wannabes. This break from the doom and gloom surrounding us thanks to the never-ending lockdowns and rising death tolls was welcome and helped bring some light relief during some very dark days. Some even claim it had positive effects on mental health when pretty much everyone on the planet was struggling to stay sane. While for others, it became a way of feeling validated, something that can swing one way or the other. (A bit like some of my dance moves) 

Add in that many of us found it almost impossible to sit still and not try to emulate those on our screens, and “hey presto!” you have the benefit of exercise being thrown into the entertainment pot. Magic! 

While gyms, swimming pools and other sports facilities were closed, staying fit became more complicated. Challenging yourself to learn the steps of a quick dance routine helped burn off some comfort-eating calories, kept joints from becoming too stiff and maintained some fitness levels. 

Are We Addicted To TikTok Dance Challenges?

Many of us mere mortals can’t help ourselves when it comes to spending time scrolling through social media. I can lose hours reading and posting dad jokes on Facebook or enviously ogling travel photos on Insta. TikTok is even more addictive—hence me deleting it one week after installing it! 

These platforms can be time suckers, reducing our much-needed sleeping and socialising hours. But, sometimes, they are worth it. The TikTok dances got the world moving and brought joy and entertainment when we were all in a slump. While the dreaded pandemic may be somewhat contained and life is returning to normal, the love for TikTok is not diminishing. 

It seems the platform, along with its kooky dance routines, is here to stay, with predictions showing that the number of monthly active users will go from 1.2 billion at the end of 2021 to 1.8 billion by the end of 2022. 

So, while I can’t exactly say that it is an addiction, this short video platform has conquered the world where others before it failed. (Remember Vine?)

As the famous American artist Andy Warhol rightly predicted waaay back in 1967, “In the future, everybody will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” The future is now. So limber up, buttercup, pull on your dancing shoes and enjoy the TikTok dance trend while you still can. 

Let me know your favourite TikTok dance challenge in the comments below.