What is the flossing and how do I do it?

Tom Duggins October 2, 2018
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There’s a new dance craze called flossing and it has (almost) nothing to do with keeping your teeth clean.

Hot on the heels of dabbing or the dab, there’s a new widely-imitated dance move which is encouraging kids and adults to swing their limbs about in a somewhat crazy fashion.

Known as flossing or the floss dance, it’s yet another example of an internet meme that first trended online before taking school playgrounds and dance floors by storm.

Where did the floss come from?

To answer that question, you’d have to ask the originator of the floss: a youngster by the name of Russell Horning (a.k.a. the Backpack Kid). Russell had been filming videos of his loose, improvised dance moves for a couple of years before one of them went viral.

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Flossin in Central Park(Song: 2 LITT)

A post shared by ᏆɦɛɮǟƈᏦքǟƈᏦᏦɨɖ (@thebackpackkid) on

Off the back of his newfound Insta-fame, he was invited to perform his signature dance move on Saturday Night Live during a performance of Katy Perry’s new single “Swish Swish.” The following month, in June 2017, the dance move was picked up by the game developers behind Fortnite, 2017’s smash gaming hit.

It was included as a dance move which characters could perform whilst playing the game: either to taunt their fellow players or to celebrate a victory. The craze went fully mainstream once celebrities such as England footballer Dele Alli and Stranger Things‘ Millie Bobby Brown were filmed performing the dance on social media.

Why is it called the floss?

From the viewer’s perspective, the dance looks a lot like someone pretending that their body is a tooth while using their arms to swab a big imaginary piece of dental floss back and forth around themselves. Why wouldn’t you call it the floss?

How do I do the floss?

Rumours of the floss’s difficulty have been somewhat exaggerated. It really just consists of a few quick arm movements and a casual bit of hip swinging.

Ready to try it out? Here are the steps:

  • To start off, clench your fists and hang your arms down by your side. Keep it nice and loose.
  • Swing one arm behind your back and the other out front.
  • Keep ’em there and swish those arms in the same direction.
  • Now swing your arms back around so one is out front and the other is behind your back.
  • Repeat.

Still think it’s kind of tough? Well, practice makes perfect. Check out this slow motion video if you feel you need extra guidance:


Is it anything to do with the dab?

No, not really. The dab is an even simpler move which only involves using your upper arms. It was popularised by numerous hip-hop artists from Atlanta before going mainstream in 2015.

What’s with the backpack?

Some say that the extra weight of wearing a backpack helps a floss dancer to maintain a strong, upright posture – crucial for an expert display of flossing. Others say it just looks cool.

Related topics: Dance, floss dancing, fortnite

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