Karima is a pop culture writer who loves exploring where music, culture, and technology intersect.
What Is TikTok?
TikTok is a social media platform where users can create and share short videos. It was launched in 2016 by ByteDance, a tech company based in Beijing, China. In 2018, it merged with the lip-syncing app Musical.ly, and exploded in popularity amongst teenagers around the world. It became the most-downloaded app in the Apple App Store in 2018 and 2019.
TikTok users can use the app to create short, 3-15 second music or lip-sync videos. They can also create longer looping videos up to 60 seconds long. Memes are popular on TikTok, as well short comedy videos and dances. In fact, a viral TikTok dance can help catapult a song to the top of the charts!
I always used Twitter and Instagram, so when I first heard about TikTok from my younger sister, I was a little confused. However, after she showed me a few cute dances (and even tried teaching me one), I was hooked!
What Are the Most Popular TikTok Dances?
TikTok does not have any official charts for which dances are most popular, so it's hard to tell exactly which dance is the most popular. However, by browsing the app, you'll soon realize how popular something is by how often you see it, and whether it eventually makes its way over to other socials such as Instagram.
So what are the most popular dances on TikTok?
- Say So
- The Box
- Siren Beat
- Banana Drop
- Out West
- Go Go Go (Stanky Leg Challenge)
- Oh Na Na Na
For more on each of these dances, including who created them and videos of what they look like, keep on reading!
Song: "Lottery" by K Camp
Dance Credit: Jalaiah Harmon (@jalaiahharmon)
This dance was created by the young Jalaiah Harmon in September 2019. She first uploaded it to Dubsmash, an app popular with young Black creators. However, the dance was later popularized on TikTok by @GlobalJones and Charli D'amelio—without giving credit to Jalaiah. After a New York Times journalist profiled Jalaiah's story, the world finally knew that she was the original creator and Jalaiah got the credit she deserved.
2. Say So
Song: "Say So" by Doja Cat
Dance Credit: Haley Sharpe (@yodelinghaley)
Haley created this dance sometime in December 2019 and helped this song explode in popularity. Thanks to its vitality on TikTok, the song eventually hit #1 on the Billboard charts, and Doja Cat even featured Haley in her music video for the song. It's a little more complicated than some of the other dances on this list, but it's still easy enough to be super popular!
Song: "Savage" by Megan Thee Stallion
Dance Credit: Keara Wilson (@keke.janajah)
Keara Wilson created this dance shortly after its release in March 2020. After fans flooded the comments tagging Megan Thee Stallion, the rapper herself ended up doing the dance. The song (and dance) became a viral hit, spurring a remix with none other than Beyoncé—with a new dance to go along.
4. The Box
Song: "The Box" by Roddy Rich
Dance Credit: Unknown
This song actually has a couple of dances. One is "The Box Lean" which includes a Michael-Jackson-in-Smooth-Criminal-esque lean during the opening segments of the song, and the other is the Box Challenge, which is a more heavily choreographed danced. Due to the popularity of the song, there are tons of challenges set to this song.
5. Siren Beat (The Culture Dance)
Song: "Laxed (Sired Beat)" by Jawsh 685
Dance Credit: Unknown
Though still a high schooler in New Zealand, Joshua Stylah, aka Jawsh 685, created this beat in 2019, the song didn't become a hit on TikTok until 2020. Young creators use the song and simple dance as an opportunity to show off their cultural heritage, often doing the dance in their traditional dress.
6. Banana Drop
Song: "Banana" ft. Shaggy by Conkarah (DJ FLe Remix)
Dance Credit: Keziah Samuelu (@keziah.samuelu)
This simple dance needs just one prop: a pair of sunglasses. It was created by a young Polynesian teen named Keziah Samuelu, whose original video has been seen over 49 million times! Soon enough it was picked up by big TikTokers and spread like a wildfire around the platform.
7. Out West
Song: "Out West" by Travis Scott
Dance Credit: Nicole Bloomgarden (@nicolebloomgarden)
This song by popular rapper Travis Scott was released in December 2019, and Nicole Bloomgarden made her dance soon afterwards. Though it took a while to take off, by February 2020 it was popular enough that even Kylie Jenner joined in on the challenge!
Song: "Supalonely" by BENEE
Dance Credit: Zoi Lerma (@zoifishh)
Like many of the other songs on this list, this song by the young Kiwi artist BENEE became an international hit after the TikTok dance went viral. Zoi's original dance video has been viewed over 34 million times, with countless renditions across the app.
9. Go Go Go (Stanky Leg Challenge)
Song: "Go Go Go" from the TV show Hip Hop Harry
Dance Credit: Christian Haynes (@theeblackbadger)
Though the stanky leg was quite a popular dance in 2008 and 2009, it experienced a resurgence in 2020 after a clip of a dance circle from the kid's TV show Hip Hop Harry went viral on Twitter and TikTok thanks to a humorous video by Christian Haynes, where he does the dance in front of his skeptical family. This lead thousands (if not millions) of users to do the same.
10. Oh Na Na Na
Song: "Oh Nanana - Remix" by DJ 6RB & Bonde R300
Dance Credit: Unknown
This is one of the "older" challenges on this list, as it reached the height of its popularity in early 2019 (practically ancient history on the internet!). However, it is extremely popular and has had quite a bit of longevity, so it was worth including. This dance requires a partner, so be sure to grab a friend or family member first!
Who Made That Dance?
If you see an uncredited dance and you know who originally created it, please leave a comment below so I can update the article!
What Dance Is Next?
The internet moves quickly, and it's impossible to tell which dance or song is going to be popular next. After realizing how a short dance on TikTok could make a song explode in popularity, many artists began creating their own dances for people to imitate on the app, such as Drake's "Toosie Slide." Other artists take dances developed by teenagers on the app and put them in their official music video, like Doja Cat did with the music video for her hit song, "Say So".
So, it's safe to say you should keep an eye out for catchy, popular songs. And, who knows, maybe you can even create your own dance! Happy dancing!
© 2020 Karima Reyes