A condition where a dancing person must continue to dance and has no way to stop moving. In some cases the victims begin to dance voluntarily but find themselves unable to stop; in others, they were forced to dance against their will. In both cases, the victim is at the mercy of someone or something else (a villain, a curse, an artifact, or similar) that compels this dancing. If an object or trinket controls the dancing, they may be freed if they can get rid of it, but sometimes it's not so easily shaken
, and other times even that won't help.
The victims may be forced to dance for the following purposes:
- Incapacitation: The dance hinders the victims' action or renders them helpless.
- Playing with Puppets/Hypno Fool: The dance is intended to humiliate the victim or make him/her look foolish.
- Torture: The dance will exhaust the victim. In extreme cases, the person is forced to dance until he or she dies.
- Aesthetics: The person controlling the dance wants to see the other person move in a way that visually appeals to him/her.
Can be a form of Ironic Hell
or Laser-Guided Karma
(to say nothing of Cool and Unusual Punishment
). Relatively popular in children's entertainment because it seems like a relatively harmless means of restraint, comparable to Tickle Torture
. Mind Control Music
often, and The Music Meister
always, causes this trope.
Often a version of People Puppets
, and overlaps with Mind Manipulation
. Not to be confused with Bullet Dancing
(a series of reflex leaps isn't quite what this trope is after).
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Anime & Manga
- Code Geass: One of the bizarre tasks Lelouch compels some drug dealers to do for his Playing with Puppets moment. It's a pretty horrible thing he did, considering that the person who he compelled to dance will have to dance until he dies.
- Tsuritama: Humans under the influence of the aliens' Mind-Control Device. This can result in Adult Fear, such as losing control of their boats and accidentally launching missiles from a battleship.
- The Para Para Brothers from Dragon Ball GT use a stereo to cause their opponents to uncontrollably mimic their dancing, leaving them open to attack.
- Fushigiboshi no Futago Hime: Fine or Rein presses one of the three buttons on the Feather Myuugram to make it play music. Anyone standing in front of the Myuugram will be forced to dance depending on the music the Myuugram plays.
- Ranma ½: The anime-only twins Linlin & Ranran's most powerful move. The twins play the theme tune which causes the opponent to dance uncontrollably, and while they dance Linlin and Ranran use the flamethrower to burn the opponent.
- My Bride Is a Mermaid: To stop the fight between two Yakuza groups, the mermaids Sun & Lunar sing a song that causes everyone to dance uncontrollably. For 50 solid hours.
- Shugo Chara!
- Rave Master: The villain's girlfriend asks for a certain music to be played that makes all the males dance so that she can fight with Elie uninterrupted.
- Jewelpet Twinkle☆: "Tinkle Tinkle Sanbala" is a magic spell that makes everyone dance samba. The spell was used on Mushroom Men, so yeah, it's... Mushroom Samba.
- Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z: A Saturday Night Fever-esque monster uses Hypno Ray to cause people in the dance hall to dance in sync with him.
- Experiment 258 (Sample) has gained this ability. Also, after the failure of the week, Delia punishes Hämsterviel by hanging him with thread and forcing him to dance.
- In order to capture Stitch, Experiment 610 (Witch) magically forced Stitch and his friends to dance, which would have tired them out if Yuna hadn't distracted her.
- The show also reveals Experiment 123's name (Carmen) and ability (this).
- Zatch Bell!: Yopopo can cause the opponent to mimic his dancing by using his spell, Shin Yopopoi Topopoi Supopopoi.
- Flint The Time Detective: Jitterbug's song and Jitterbug-Master's ray can make people dance against their will.
- Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh: There is a Monster of the Week which affects people and the Humongous Mecha alike.
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch: Lanhua's song.
- One Piece
- Brook seems to have gained this ability. He caused the Bobardment Squad of the New Fishman Pirates to dance around as if they were at a festival.
- Also happens in a back-up feature to one of the movies, where Jango hypnotizes an entire island into dancing.
- Princess Tutu: Drosselmeyer's Author Powers are most apparent when Tutu ascends to the author's universe and ends up becoming a marionette which dances ballet at his will.
- Ah! My Goddess: Mara's Weaksauce Weakness is rock music, which causes the demoness to dance uncontrollably.
- Teeter Dance, which in the games just confuses the target, consistently has this effect except in "Pikachu's Big Sparking Search".
- The mini-movie "Gotta Dance!" revolved around Meowth's newest invention, "The Dancin' Pokébaton", which causes all Pokemon who listen to it to uncontrollably dance.
- "Abra & The Psychic Showdown" had Sabrina's Abra (who had evolved into Kadabra), curb stomps Pikachu before forcing it to dance with its psychic abilities, just to add to its humiliation.
- Mahoujin Guru Guru has items and spells which have this power.
- Sugar Sugar Rune: A Dance Candy comes in handy when you want the mandragora to willingly come out from the ground without screaming.
- The application of Mind Control Music to this is common in Violinist of Hameln and its sequel Shchelkunchik. Often combined with Naked People Are Funny.
- Samurai Pizza Cats: Big Cheese builds a Monster of the Week that can bang out a hypnotic drum beat, thus bringing the dance craze to the city.
- In the Mushroom Samba episode of Yume No Crayon Oukoku, one mushroom happens to be a "dancing mushroom".
- The one in Wagamama Fairy Mirumo De Pon can be handed over; if a victim manages to touch an unaffected person, the person will start dancing instead.
- In Sailor Moon Super S, a mow puts a tutu on Sailor Moon and makes her spin uncontrollably.
- In Anpanman, both Taikoman and Jongara-kun's music is so compelling that anyone that hears it will dance against their will.
- Shin Chan: The 14th movie features Kidnap and Replace. The difference is that the duplicate likes dancing to music. And when the duplicate dances, so does the kidnapped and captured original.
- In Happiness Charge Pretty Cure, this is the effect that the Hawaiian Alohaloway attack that Cure Princess uses in her Macadamia Hula Dance form: making everyone, friend and foe, dance the hula. Unless you're Cure Fortune.
- In the first issue of Brit, the villain Master Mind takes control of hundreds of people on a stretch of highway and forces them to dance.
- Zita The Spacegirl: Piper's eponymous flute can make listeners dance themselves unconscious.
- Super-Hip (DC Comics) magically acquires an electric guitar which causes whoever hears it to dance uncontrollably whenever he plays rock and roll.
- In Action Comics #592, a character called Sleez (yeah, that's his name) hypnotically induces Big Barda to dance for him. Among other things...
- In Doctor Who Magazine, The Sixth Doctor uses a pied piper ploy in order to make a group of renegade robots dance themselves away from a city.
- The Maestro, a minor foe of the Justice League of America, could cause his victims to dance uncontrollably.
- Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale "The Red Shoes", where a girl is punished for her vain pride over her beautiful shoes by having the shoes force her to dance uncontrollably.
- The Brothers Grimm's tale "The Jew Among Thorns" includes a fiddle which compels people to dance when they hear it played.
- In Joseph Jacobs's Kate Crackernuts, The Fair Folk force the prince to dance until collapse, and then they force him to dance some more.
- Being compelled to attend the revels of The Fair Folk every night was one folk theory about TB: the victims wasted away because they got no sleep at night.
Films — Animation
- In Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius, the aliens make the kids' parents dance (badly) via mind control devices.
- Robots: Robin William's character Fender uses a dance as his special "attack sequence", which causes the evil robots to join in.
- Toy Story 3: Jessie has the Spanish version of the Theme Tune played, so that Buzz's Spanish personality shows up and starts dancing paso doble with her.
- It happens to Pinocchio in the movie Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night, an unofficial sequel to the Disney movie. The circus puppet-master, Puppetino, plays an organ grinder that make Pinocchio dance and turn back into a puppet.
- In Disney's Aladdin, Jafar uses magic to make the Sultan dance for him after the usurpation.
- Shrek Forever After: Pied Piper's flute has a dial that can be set to any known creature and makes them dance uncontrollably when he plays. The bounty hunter uses his flute to capture his quarry by forcing them to dance.
Films — Live-Action
- In Beetlejuice, the Maitlands try to scare off the Deetzes and their dinner guests by possessing them and forcing them to dance and lip-sync to "Day-O".
- The Mask. The title character sings the "Cuban Pete" song and everyone (except for Lieutenant Kellaway) starts dancing.
- The main characters in A Simple Wish are forced to dance by the villain.
- Legend. While Lily is trapped in Darkness' lair, he sends a dancing mannequin in a black dress to seduce her. The mannequin Mind Controls her into dancing with it, eventually transforming her with an Evil Costume Switch/Evil Makeover.
- The Lair of the White Worm. Lady Sylvia Marsh is the vampire priestess of the title monster. When she hears a particular kind of music she starts dancing (a reference to how snakes are supposed to be charmed by music).
- Ella Enchanted: Ella is "blessed" with the gift of obedience. Because of this, she is compelled to sing and dance for the entertainment of some giants after some of them yell out for her to do so.
- Hocus Pocus: The party-goers are cursed by the witch sisters to dance until they die. The sisters' deaths ended the spell, as the last scene of the movie is the people leave the party, exhausted but still alive.
- Kamen Rider Fourze: When Fourze was bound by a magic contract with the Student Council President, his attempt to attack the president resulted in dancing.
- An episode of MI High has a villainess make her dancers wear vests which makes them do her will. Oscar ends up putting one of these on and ends up being ordered to dance around a room until Carrie gets it off him.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers
- The episode "Different Drum" features a monster who controls people to dance.
- In season 3 we have Dischordia, a monster who can make people dance uncontrollably with her singing. She had the Rangers exhausted dancing and she nearly succeeded in having Tommy give her his Power Coin.
- Near the end of Chouriki Sentai Ohranger (adapted into Power Rangers Zeo), a monster sprayed a beam to make Humongous Mechas malfunction — which ultimately led to Near Villain Victory.
- Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger/Power Rangers Wild Force also had an episode where a monster controls people to dance with a flute.
- Supernatural: "Out With The Old" features a pair of cursed ballet shoes. Once you put them on, you could not stop dancing and would dance faster and faster until your ankles snapped and your feet would be torn from your body. Even more insidious, just being near the shoes made you want to put them on.
- In the That Mitchell and Webb Look S1E3 sketch "The Green Clarinet", a mysterious stranger gives Alan an instrument that makes people sing and dance... and reveal embarrassing truths about themselves.
- The Twilight Zone TOS episode "A Piano in the House". A player piano had the ability to bring out the Hidden Self of a person listening to its music. One of the people affected secretly loved to dance, so she danced along to the music.
- My Hero: Mrs Raven hypnotizes Arnie, Ella, Piers and Stanley into performing "YMCA" and "The Birdie Dance" (and other hypno-foolish things) by Trigger Phrases.
- In the Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren" this happens to the crew, resulting in one of the first interracial kisses on US television.
- In the Friday The 13th: The Series "The Maestro", the cursed antique of the week was a music box who's melody forced the listener to dance themselves to death. Death occurred either though strain on the body or dancing into deadly situations, such as out a window.
- Ultraman Mebius: Under "Hamelin Project", the earth defense team creates a Mind-Control Device that can make a monster follow orders, which can be as complicated as dancing. The episode goes wrong when another monster takes control of the device and gain command of yet another monster.
- An episode of Criminal Minds had a deranged unsub dislocate people's limbs in order to make living marionettes. One creepy scene has him manipulating a woman he captured to dance like a marionette.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Musical Episode involves a demon who makes the residents of Sunnydale (including the Scooby Gang) reveal their innermost feelings in song and dance. Those unable to contain these feelings are compelled to dance until they burn up completely.
- This is the schtick of the Groovy Guru on Get Smart. Dancing is the first effect of his mind-controlling music.
- Harry Potter: The Dancing Feet Spell (Tarantallegra).
- In a Homer Price short story everyone in town gets infected with a patter song-and-dance and has to start singing & dancing it. Homer realies the only cure is another song - one by Mark Twain ("Punch Brothers, Punch!"), which one forgets as soon as one tells it to someone else.
- Happens to someone in Roger Zelazny's Manna from Heaven.
- Happens in the Jiggy McCue series.
- The end of Nikolai Gogol's "The Lost Letter": the only thing that remains following his ordeal is the fact that once a year, on the date he met the group of demons, his wife has an uncontrollable urge to dance and does, with no way of stopping her.
- In Mercedes Lackey's The Lark & the Wren, Rune forces the elves to dance to her fiddle.
Myths & Religion
- Norwegian elves can teach to a fiddler the Elf-king's tune, which can make old and young, and even inanimate objects, dance. It cannot be stopped unless the player plays the tune backwards, or that someone comes behind him and cuts the strings of his fiddle.
- The Strömkarl has eleven different measures, to ten of which alone people may dance; the eleventh belongs to the night spirit his host. If any one plays it, tables and benches, cans and cups, old men and women, blind and lame, even the children in the cradle, begin to dance.
- In Ireland, it was believed that fairy changelings often produced a set of small bagpipes from under the clothes and played dance music upon them, till the inmates of the cottage dropped with exhaustion from the effects of the step dancing they were compelled to engage in.
- The Fair Folk's dances are very, very, very dangerous. Mortals who see them are often caught up in the dancing and are unable to stop. The lucky ones don't crumble into dust when it finally ends. One folk explanation of tuberculosis was that its victims were forced to dance every night at the fairy hills, and wasted away for the lack of sleep.
- In the Swedish legend of the Hårgadance a mysterious fiddler turned up one day in the village of Hårga during a celebration and started playing a song on his violin that made everyone dance enthusiastically. Too late, the people realized that the man, who they now saw had a goat's leg, was the Devil himself. They were unable to stop dancing and kept doing so while the fiddler led them up the nearby Hårgamountain. There, he kept playing until everyone had been killed and their bodies torn to bits by the intense dancing. The top of Hårgamountain is still flat to this day because of the wild dance.
- Sir Thomas Wallace of Craigie and Walter Whiteford come across a house in which the wife is brewing ale. The wife serves Sir Thomas a drink, however she is terrified of the Laird who looks like the Devil and refuses him entry. The Laird responds by taking a "pin" and reciting a charm he placed it above the doorway, resulting in a spell that forced the wife to dance and sing uncontrollably. The workers return from the fields and they too are in turn bewitched as they pass under the "pin", until the Laird removes it and is invited to drink by the relieved householders.
- Oberon's magic horn causes this.
- Scandinavian elves are capable of dancing a man to death.
- Slavic mythology has a rusalka, a water-nymph. Also known as a wili (see Giselle below).
- There is an episode of Dinosaurs in which Robbie is involuntarily doing the mating dance anytime he is around a girl he likes.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- "Otto's Irresistible Dance" spell.
- Grigs can play a tune on their fiddles that causes other creatures to dance uncontrollably.
- Each week, the korred have a holiday where they dance and play music. Anyone who interrupts the dance must start dancing themselves, losing 1-4 Hit Points per minute until they die, are restrained or the korred leave the area.
- Basic D&D monsters included the Tarantula, a Giant Spider whose venomous bite would cause the victim to dance incontrollably.
- The Masque of Slaanesh in Warhammer/Warhammer 40,000 is a daemonette of Slaanesh who angered her master and was cursed to dance for all eternity. Anybody who sees her dancing is forced to dance along, even to the point of dying from exhaustion.
- In The Magic Flute, Papageno's magic bells cause Monostatos and his servants to stop attempting to capture Papageno and Pamina and start dancing.
- Giselle: A girl who is jilted and dies before her wedding night is turned into a wili and seeks revenge upon men by dancing them to death.
- Some musical adaptations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz contain the song "The Jitterbug", during which The Jitterbug puts a magical influence on the characters, forcing them to dance the Jitterbug frenetically.
- Hunter × Hunter: In both musicals, Hisoka uses his Bungee Gum strings to make the characters dance.
- Realms of Arkania: Star Trail had a spell that would render an opponent into a wild dance, incapable of doing anything when the caster's friends move in for the coup de grace.
- Space Channel 5: The whole plot is about the villains getting people into and Ulala rescuing them from this trope.
- Klonoa Beach Volleyball: Joka's Special Attack, Chaotic Dance; after he hits the ball, Joka's opponents will suddenly start dancing, and eventually trip.
- Puyo Puyo: Panotti's flute.
- Dragon Quest series has an ability called Entice Dance/Lure Dance/Sultry Dance that causes the target to uncontrollably break out into a jig. Play VIII and Monsters: Joker (or newer) to see how it works.
- In the roguelike spin-off series Fushigi no Dungeon, said ability causes a negative status effect called "Dance" that prevents a character from taking most actions.
- Darkstalkers: Lilith's Super Move, Gloomy Puppet Show; Lilith tosses a top hat at her foe, if it contacts them, they find themselves on a platform, dancing helplessly as Lilith's player taps buttons.
- Lost Saga: Capoeira's "Atabeque" makes your opponent dance towards you.
- League of Legends: Sona's ultimate is a wave of sound that causes targets to dance uncontrollably.
- Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools Of Destruction introduces the Groovitron, a miniature disco-ball shaped device that forces every NPC on the screen to dance until it runs its course. Notable in that every species/significant NPC has a unique reaction to it— you even get a skill point for targeting everything that can dance.
- In the sequel game, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time, you disguise yourself as Dr. Nefarious at one point. While disguised, you can give various orders to the monsters working under you, one of which is, "Dance."
- Final Fantasy X-2: Yuna takes back her Garment Grid. However, as the Grid has recorded the emotions of the previous user, she finds herself dancing uncontrollably, and overcome by someone else's excitement.
- Evil Genius: Eli Barracuda plays a boombox with hypnotic suggestion that causes people around him to uncontrollably break out into dance.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: "The Dancer's flute" is said to have this power.
- Mega Man Star Force: Cygnus Wing attacks the Amaken Science Centre causing people to dance uncontrollably in the Space Simulation, with the limited oxygen supply in the space suits threatening the lives of his victims.
- Quest for Glory I: At night, you can find a group of faeries gathered near a ring of mushrooms. They want you to dance for them, and you can do so voluntarily in a serene and graceful way. Telling them "No" or walking into their ring of mushrooms will make them angry, and they will force the hero to dance wildly until he dies.
- Dungeons & Dragons Online: Compared to tabletop D&D, DDO also adds an Otto's Resistable Dance (allows a saving throw, but much lower level), and Sphere of Dancing, an area-of-effect crowd control spell that creates a disco ball and techno music. Most monsters remain vulnerable to dancing, even at high level, and all have a special dancing animation to account for it.
- Ape Escape series
- In 3, the character gains Arabian-esque outfit and the control of a genie who can teleport and make monkeys dance.
- In Pumped & Primed and Million Monkeys, Leo does some funky dance steps and causes everyone to be incapacitated by the light of the disco ball.
- Michael Jackson's Moonwalker has Michael's Dance Magic Smart Bomb special, which causes all enemies to dance along with him before disappearing.
- Killer Instinct has this as a finishing move if you beat an opponent without losing you first health bar. It's hard to say if it's truly involuntary for some of the victims....
- Constructor has Hippie undesirables, which can be sent to a rival's territory to stage an impromptu street dance party, causing all characters that enter the area to start dancing. Cops will be unable to grab the Hippie for the same reason. Very useful just after damaging one of the rival's buildings with the Hippie preventing construction workers from fixing the damage before the building blows.
- Super Hero Squad Online: Several power attacks will make enemy characters dance for a few seconds, leaving them vulnerable to attack while preventing them from attacking you.
- LEGO Lord of the Rings: Equipping the Mithril Disco Phial will play a disco song & make the characters around you dance. This continues until you put the Phial away.
- Saints Row IV has the Dubstep Gun, where if it's fired, every nearby person and even the cars will dance. Even the corpses dance if the gun is pointed at them!
- In Goat Simulator, one of the special Mutations is Deadgoa7. This mutation's special ability involved everyone nearby entering their dance animation no matter what they're doing at that moment.
- There is a Creepypasta story, "The Song and Dance Man", that has this as its major plot.
- Flander's Company. This is the primary superpower of wannabe supervillain Kevin (along with creating his own music and light effects). His "groove" is so intense that when he start dancing, others feel compelled to follow. He mostly aims at incapacitation, though he uses the power once to drag an opponent through a window. Unfortunately, a strong-willed enough enemy (like Sadoman) can break the influence, and then it gets painful for Kevin.
- In Noob, Tenshirock the hacker's s favorite means of making player's life hell is to block their avatar in dancing mode. And if the player happens to have gotten on his bad side recently, they'll be lucky if their avatar is wearing anything else than underwear (webseries and novels) or a silly costume (comic) during the process.
- The Penguins of Madagascar: When King Julien's "groove" is magically transferred to Skipper, he starts dancing uncontrollably. Later he becomes a Dance Battler.
- The Simpsons
- Duffless: In a Dream Sequence Bart wins first prize at a Science Fair with a Go-Go Ray which makes people dance.
- The Debarted: Bart puts pieces of metal in Principal Skinner's shoes, then uses magnets under the school stage to make him move & dance around.
- Last Tap Dance in Springfield: Professor Frink puts a clap-activated device in Lisa's dancing shoes to give her dancing skills. But when the audience at her dance recital applauds her dancing she dances more, and they applaud more, and she dances more-more, and they applaud more-more, etc.
- On the Classic Disney Short Trick or Treat, a witch casts a spell on Donald Duck after he swallows the key to the pantry where he hid all the Halloween candy. The spell made his feet dance and kick in an attempt to remove the key, while the witch accompanied on the banjo.
- Kim Possible has an episode where she and Ron end up hypnotised and end up being ordered to dance by Señor Senior Junior.
- In the Porky Pig Looney Tunes short The Wearing of the Grin, Porky is forced to put on some green shoes which make him dance through a nightmare landscape.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
- The Cutie Pox is an illness which causes random cutie marks to appear all over the ponies' bodies, forcing them to continually perform the talents that came with them. One of the marks which afflicted Apple Bloom is a red shoe (representing tap dancing), a Shout-Out to The Red Shoes.
- In "The Magic Duel", Trixie makes Pinkie Pie dance with a spell.
- An interesting variation occurs briefly occurs in "Three's A Crowd". Near the end of Discord's song "Glass of Water", he makes Twilight Sparkle dance with him. It's a little unsettling.
- In an episode of Pinky and the Brain, both mice are subjected to Pavlovian conditioning, and every time a bell rings, Pinky does That Russian Squat Dance while Brain sings "I'm A Little Teapot" complete with actions.
- The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3: The Doom Dancer Music Box made anyone who could hear it dance uncontrollably. This became a plot point as Koopa, who had a cold, couldn't hear it and thus wasn't affected when Bully tried it on him.
- The Smurfs has a magic flute and Smurfette's dancing shoes.
- Darkwing Duck: Comet Guy has a Weaksauce Weakness: the sound of a bell makes him dance, and he cannot stop dancing until he hears a whistle.
- Phineas and Ferb: In "Out of Toon", Doofenshmirtz attempted to create a ray that would dry his clothes after his dryer broke, but instead made one that made anything hit with it dance.
- Motorcity: This is one of the first things Tooley does with the people wearing Kane Safety Suits. Later, this happens to him when he's in a suit that was hacked by the Burners.
- George of the Jungle (the 2008 series): Every time Ape hears the sound of Mitch's bongos, he dances uncontrollably which results in mass insanity and the destruction of their Tree House.
- An episode of Make Way for Noddy has Sly and Gobbo sell the inhabitants of Toyland a dust which everyone puts on their feet that makes them dance whenever Sly and Gobbo play music from a box. This allows them to commit crimes in Toyland while everyone is dancing.
- The Adventures Of T Rex: Mind Control Music makes everybody obsessed with dancing.
- In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Rude Boy and the Ska-Tastics hypnotizes partygoers at the local nightclub to dance to their music.
- The Looney Tunes Porky Pig short "The Wearing of the Grin", two Leprechauns make Porky wear Green Shoes that make him dance an Irish jig uncontrollably. Fortunately for Porky, it was All Just a Dream. (Well, maybe...)
- This is actually a real phenomenon.
- This suggestion is common in stage hypnosis.