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Screen capture of original Hamster Dance.

The Hampster Dance or Hampsterdance is one of the earliest examples of an Internet meme. Created by Canadian art student Deidre LaCarte for a Geocities page, the dance featuring rows of animated hamsters and other rodents dancing in various ways to a sped-up sample from the song "Whistle Stop" by Roger Miller.

Contents

History

Canadian art student Deidre LaCarte, who was competing with her best friend and sister to see who could generate the most traffic, designed The Hampster Dance in August 1998 as an homage to her pet hamster, named "Hampton Hamster." Using four simple animated GIFs of hamsters and other rodents, repeated dozens of times each, and a loop of background music embedded in the HTML, at the time a fairly new browser feature, she named the site Hampton's Hamster House and had Hampton declare his intent to become a "web star." Initially, the website consisted of a single page website with four hamsters and other rodents, later redesigned and dubbed Hampton, Dixie, Hado, and Fuzzy. Over the next few years, alternate versions of the Hamsterdance appeared, such as for birthdays, where the hamsters are slightly modified to hold presents.

The clip, a 9-second looped WAV file (dedodedo.wav), was taken from a sped-up recording of Roger Miller's "Whistle Stop", a song which was written for the 1973 Walt Disney cartoon Robin Hood.[1]

Until January 1999, only 800 visits were recorded (about 4 per day), but without warning, that jumped to 15,000 per day. The Web site spread by e-mail, early blogs, and bumper stickers, and was eventually even featured in a television commercial for Internet Service Provider Earthlink. The continued popularity of the site led LaCarte to a professional redesign, and the addition of an online store for t-shirts and CDs of "Hamster" music.

LaCarte failed to register the Hamsterdance name, and for some time the hamsterdance.com domain was owned by humor business Nutty Sites. Initially, hamsterdance.com was used, and later hamsterdance2.com. The site webhamster.com is a copy of the original site complete with the 9-second loop WAV.

Fans of the site created variations on the original dance, using politicians such as Dan Quayle and Cynthia McKinney as well as household objects such as Pez dispensers and Lung X rays.

In 2004 Abatis partnered with Unreal Productions of Keyport, NJ to redesign the original Hamsters into a full 3-D CGI contemporary "look and feel." The website was also redesigned using the new characters and a DVD is in production with the first of a new series of adventures with the Furry Foursome and their roadie, Frank The Ferret.

Pop culture

In Canada The "Official" Hampster Dance Song was released as a single. The video was declared worst or cheesiest video of the year by MuchMusic in the one-hour special Fromage 2001. It stayed for two weeks on the Canada Top 40, peaking at #38[2]. In Australia "The Hampster Dance Song" was also released in 2001, credited to Hampton The Hamster. The song reached #5 on the ARIAnet singles chart[3] and spun off follow-up releases and videos, such as "Thank God I'm A Country Boy" (a cover of the John Denver song, reaching #12) and "Hampster Party" (reaching #44). It was also released in New Zealand at the same time, with similar results. It also reached #70 on the U.S. Hot Country Songs charts.[1] The Hampster Dance Song was featured in the 2001 movie See Spot Run and in the 2005 movie Are We There Yet?.

In 2005, CNET named The Hampster Dance the #1 web fad.[4]

Albums/Compilations

(in order of release)

  • Hampster Dance: The Album
  • Hampster Dance Party
  • Happy Times Ten
  • Hampster Dance Hits
  • A Very Hampsterdance Christmas
  • The Don Flanco EP

Singles

(in order of release)

  • The Hampster Dance Song
  • Thank God I'm A Country Boy
  • Hampster Party
  • Sing A Simple Song
  • Hampsterdance Christmas
  • Time to Party
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Track listings

U.S. CD 1: Non-U.S. CD 1: Non-U.S. CD 2 (Maxi Single):
1. The Hampster Dance Song (Radio Mix) 1. The Hampster Dance Song (Radio Edit) 1. The Hampster Dance Song (Radio Edit)
2. The Hampster Dance Song (Extended Mix) 2. The Hampster Dance Song (Extended Mix) 2. The Hampster Dance Song (Extended Mix)
3. The Hampster Dance Song (Club Mix) 3. The Hampster Dance Song (Club Mix)
4. The Hampster Dance Song (Snapshot Remix)
5. The Hampster Dance Song (Tom Stevens Remix)

References

  1. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 180. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.  
  2. ^ http://top40-charts.com/song.php?sid=481 Hampster Dance Song - Chart History
  3. ^ australian-charts.com - Hampton The Hamster - The Hampsterdance Song
  4. ^ Top 10 Web fads - from CNET

External links


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