Why Teenagers Randomly Dance in Target

By Amanda Malnik

A teenager in Target is casually walking the aisles and then suddenly breaks out into a dance that mostly consists of various arm movements and maybe some odd facial expressions. Does this sound familiar? Maybe this same scene happened to you in Publix or really any place a teenager might be. If you were genuinely confused, you probably thought to yourself, “Have they been possessed by some dancing demon? Is a flash mob about to begin?” These are all incredibly valid questions and are a telling sign that you do not know anything about the app, TikTok. If you could immediately recognize the unique style of dance, then you are acquainted with TikTok. 

So, for those of you who do not know what TikTok is (aka most adults…and teenagers that live under a rock), TikTok is a social media platform that allows users to create videos up to 60 seconds long for other users to watch, like, comment, and send to friends. According to the website Oberlo, there are more than 500 million TikTok users worldwide with more than 1 billion videos viewed every day in the last year. While there is a plethora of videos available to watch daily, just a few types of the videos you can expect to see are animal videos, travel videos, and videos of someone dancing to the latest TikTok viral song. Arguably, one of the most famous “TikTok dancers” is Charli D’Amelio, a 15-year-old girl that literally amassed a huge following on the app in a matter of months. D’Amelio created an account in July 2019 and has since accumulated more than 32 million followers and 1.8 billion likes from the 800 + videos she’s posted. Now, people aren’t only famous, they’re “TikTok famous”.  D’Amelio, along with many other TikTokers, are the creators or spreaders of these catchy dances. 

But really, why are teens spontaneously breaking out into the “Renegade” dance (a dance D’Amelio made widely popular among the platform and highly linked to her)? Oak Hall sophomore Cate Cannon is a frequent user of TikTok. She finds TikTok to be an effective platform that connects people globally and reaches a diverse audience. She enjoys watching dancing videos as well as learning the dance. Like many other teens, she notices herself suddenly doing a TikTok dance. “Once you spend the time learning [a dance], it almost becomes involuntary, since it’s mostly hand/arm movements and actions like snaps, it easily becomes a mindless reflex,” Cannon said. Fellow sophomore Justina Chen argues that TikTok and its dances are a defining characteristic of the culture and generation. “There’s the fun of following trends as well as the excitement behind creating videos,” she mentioned. “The dances are fun also which can contribute to this phenomenon.”