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Hamster Dance

March 24th, 2007

Pulling up one from the past. You old schoolers may remember the Hamster Dance phenomenon. Since then numerous other internet memes have come and gone. But the Hamster Dance lives on in the original geocities site archived here

The Hampster Dance [sic] or Hampsterdance is one of the earliest examples of an Internet meme, originally a simple Geocities page featuring rows of animated hamsters dancing in various ways to a sped-up sample from the song “Whistle Stop” by Roger Miller. Hamsterdance.com includes Hampton, Fuzzy, Hado, and Dixie as the singing Hamsters.

Canadian art student Deidre LaCarte, who was competing with her best friend and sister to see who could generate the most traffic, designed Hampsterdance in August 1998 as an homage to her pet hamster, named Hampton Hampster. Using four simple animated GIFs of hamsters, repeated dozens of times each, and a loop of background music embedded in the HTML, then a fairly new browser feature, she named the site Hampton’s Hampster House and had Hampton declare his intent to become a “web star”. The clip, “Whistle Stop”, was taken from the opening credits to Walt Disney’s 1973 animated version of Robin Hood and later the famous original HampsterDance 9-second loop WAV (dedodedo.wav) file was removed due to Disney copyright infringement. Until March 1999, only 800 visits were recorded (about 4 per day), but without warning, that jumped to 15,000 per day. The website spread by e-mail, early blogs, and bumper stickers, eventually even featured in a television commercial for Internet Service Provider Earthlink.

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.

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