But he couldn't do it right no matter how hard he tried
He had two left feet from an accident at birth
And every time he danced he always flopped face first
But then one day as he jumped in the air
Everybody turned and looked and they pointed and they stared
He had a bright idea right before he hit the floor
He shouted "Everybody do the flop!": a new dance craze was born!
Let's say a character is just walking along, and suddenly they get a horrible itch in the middle of their back. There just happens to be some music playing, and as they contort their body to try to reach the itch (coincidentally in time with the music), people around them start to do the same thing, thinking it's a dance. It becomes a Dance Sensation, and usually the character doesn't even notice, as they're still trying to get to the itch.
It often gains momentum when one person in the crowd yells, "Hey, look at those cool dance moves!" or something similar. That person starts doing the move, and pretty soon everybody's doing it.
Overlaps with Squirrels in My Pants, as this is sometimes the reason for the motions. It also tends to be attributed to Agony of the Feet, more specifically a Hurt Foot Hop. If someone pretends to be dancing, that's an Exercise Excuse, and it could lead to an Accidental Dance Craze.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic book series, Big Macintosh accidentally ends up on a parade float, and he decides he might as well check the crowd for someone he's looking for while he's there. The actual dancers say they'll 'follow his lead', and the 'dance' they wind up doing consists mostly of looking around everywhere. It turns into a Brick Joke when later that issue he visits a dance party... where everyone is still doing "The Navigator".
- In a story in Madhouse (an Archie Comics title), a guy practices dancing for days at home. He has grown a beard, so he goes to a barber to get a shave. He has to rush off before getting brushed down, so he ends up itching at the dance, and invents the twist.
- Airplane!, when Elaine is dancing in the tough-guy bar, and the man with the knife in his back points at his back, trying to get someone to help him, but Elaine just mimics the motion and he falls over dead a moment later.
- The Disney animated film A Goofy Movie featured Goofy improvising his "Perfect [fly fishing] Cast" when he accidentally winds up on stage at a concert. It was adopted and mimicked by the actual performers and became a new dance craze.
- Also, while visiting the Possum Park attraction, Max gets a possum in his pants and everybody starts clapping like he's dancing.
- Can't Buy Me Love: nerd Ronald is pretending to be cool and needs to learn the cool dance moves. He sees an educational program about an African Anteater Ritual mistaking it for American Bandstand and picks up a jerky, jumpy dance which he debuts at a school dance. Everybody thinks he's cool so they copy him.
- The Three Stooges are being trained to be gentlemen, and are assigned a dancing instructor. She tells them this is the latest dance and do exactly as she does. Of course, at the moment the music starts, a bee flies down the back of her dress. They follow her contortions to get rid of the bee, including all of them jumping out the second floor window into a fountain below.
- In Jane Austen's Mafia! when Vincenzo Cortino gets shot by a pair of assassins he moves around trying to get people to help him so he can have his gunshot wounds treated, but the crowd thinks he's dancing so they join in, then the assassins shoot him some more causing him to appear to be doing different dance styles including the Charleston, Swing, and the Macarena.
- In the comedic werewolf movie Full Moon High, a student encounters the werewolf in the hallway during a school dance. He rushes off to warn his classmates, but can't be heard over the music. So he forms his hands into claws, hunches over, and imitates being a ferocious beast. The other students mistake it for a dance, and soon the whole crowd is doing it.
- Young Doctors in Love: Intern Dr. Stephanie Brody is teaching a dance class to a bunch of underprivileged kids, giving directions such as 'Clap!' and 'Jump!', and the children are following her dance moves exactly. Suddenly, her mysterious ailment (a severe pain in her side) crops up. She gasps in pain, groans and collapses to the dance floor (as do the children). One of the children even comments: 'This is a dumb dance.'
- Doctor Who: Eleven is doing this charming flaily sort of thing with his hands over his head at Amy Pond's wedding. It catches on with the kids, and then with everyone else. Official material would later name the dance as "The Drunk Giraffe."
- In Misfits, the titular offenders end up popping pills that reverse the effects of their powers. Simon, who is normally metaphorically invisible (and literally after the storm), is suddenly incapable of going unnoticed. A woman asks him to dance and Simon, delighted and amazed, takes to the floor. He does these dreamy moves with his arms in front of his face, and before long everyone in the club is doing the same thing.
- Jeeves and Wooster: Geeky naturalist Gussie Fink-Nottle, having trouble confessing his love to Madeline Bassett, complains to Bertie that male newts have it much easier, as they profess attraction by performing a simple body-shaking movement — which he demonstrates, in the middle of Bertie's club, inspiring a new dance which nearly everyone in the room is doing by the time he and Bertie leave.
- I Dream of Jeannie: At a party, Jeannie does her 'fold arms, nod head' spell casting gesture. One of the guests sees her, thinks it is a new dance move, and soon everyone at the party is doing it.
- The Beverly Hillbillies - the Clampetts encounter a group of Beatniks, who are intrigued and ask them what they dig. Jed tells them they dig taters, and pantomimes a shoveling action - 'Diggin' Taters' becomes the Beatnik's new dance of choice.
- In Twin Peaks, Mr. Palmer shows up at the party for the Icelanders. One of the songs triggers the memory of his daughter and he starts to dance, weeping and clutching at his face. Catherine dances with him to try and avoid a scene, but he keeps clutching at his face. Desperate, she imitates his face-clutching hand waves. The Icelanders, not knowing what's going on, start to mimic the movements.
- In Sesame Street, in an Abby's Flying Fairy School segment, Gonnigan's "dance" is inspired by wiggling (from Niblet in his shirt), slipping (from a Banana Peel), and shaking his head (from trying to get goop off).
- The September 1978 issue of MAD featured a three-page "MAD Look at Discos"; one of the many gags packed into the second and third pages involves a dancer having an epileptic seizure as two other dancers look on. One of the onlookers asks the other if the seizure sufferer can teach them those wild dance moves.
- "Charlie Brown", sung by Vicky Rosti, is about a young man who's liked and admired wherever he goes. The song mentions as an anecdote one time when Charlie slipped on a Banana Peel and others copied his moves, creating a new dance.
- The video to the Crazy Frog song "Crazy Frog in the House" features children following Crazy Frog around town and turning his everyday actions into a dance craze.
- Apparently the Queen and Lon Chaney were high-stepping together after hearing of the dapper but dangerous Werewolves of London, as told by Warren Zevon.
- French band Kinito has a song called "J'Sais Pas Danser" note in which a guy tries out a crazy new dance move at a Kinito show, badly wrenches his neck in the process, and returns to the same venue the following night only to discover that his injury-inducing move is all the rage. You don't have to understand any french to follow the plot in the hilarious music video.
- In Moshi Monsters, a shopkeeper named Gilbert Finnister allegedly got angry once and flapped his arms, starting a dance craze for the "Finnister Flap".
- The "Do The Flop" Guy from ASDF Movie, as detailed in the song "Everybody Do The Flop," created his titular dance craze this way. Mid-jump, a crowd watched him and he shouted "Everybody do the flop!" and everyone just went with it.
- In the Happy Tree Friends episode "Stayin' Alive", Disco Bear (in his first appearance) accidentally injures Petunia and Giggles as he tries to dance with them. He ends up misinterpreting their movements as they're in pain as some kind of new dance, and tries to join in.
- Happens in Doug in the episode "Doug Can't Dance". Doug has to go to the school dance, but he doesn't know how to dance. He spends the episode trying to learn how (and failing). At the end, he goes to the dance, and Roger drops a hammer on Doug's foot. Cue Doug jumping up and down grabbing his foot. Patty then copies him, and soon the entire auditorium is doing "the Slug Hop".
- Two examples from Phineas and Ferb, both involving animals:
- Candace's "Squirrels In My Pants" dance from "Comet Kermillian".
- Jeremy's dance in "Nerdy Dancin'", when Ferb (who's secretly controlling Jeremy through a remote-control exoskeleton) starts swatting at a bee.
- Happened twice in The Flintstones: In one episode Fred stubs his toe and starts hopping up and down. Bystanders join in, and soon everyone is doing "the Frantic"; near the end of the episode, Fred ends up inspiring "the Flintstone Flop" from falling off a table. In another episode, "The Twitch" is created when singer Rock Roll has convulsions as a reaction to his pickled dodo eggs allergy.
- When Grape Ape stubbed his toe on The Great Grape Ape (episode "A Grape is Born"), he started jumping up and down, holding his toe and saying "Oooh, Aaah, Grape Ape, Grape Ape". Not only did nearby buildings get rattled, he also created a new dance.
- In an episode of Samurai Jack, Jack goes undercover to infiltrate an outdoor rave with close ties to Aku. When a group of teens start to become suscipious of Jack, he starts busting out his martial arts moves and the teens excitedly copy his actions.
- Camp Lazlo: Raj creates one while trying swat a mosquito in "Slap Happy". It also happens to be same as the Secret Handshake of Scoutmaster Lumpus' Brotherhood of Funny Hats.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: Patrick gets a cramp in the middle of a dance contest, and that sparks off a craze in Bikini Bottom.
- In Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian", Plucky ends up stepping into a coal pit for fire walking, and starts trying to stamp his feet out while rhythmically yelling "Ow, ow, ow! Ow, ow, ow!" to the beat of Aloha Oe. The band at the luau starts to mimic him.
- This happens at the the Teen Titans Go! episode "Serious Business". Robin is waiting for Raven to get out of the bathroom since he really has to go to the bathroom and starts to do the pee-pee dance. The other characters then decide to copy what he's doing, and it does not help to get Raven out on time.
- In Rugrats, Chuckie gets sand in his pants and wiggles around, and the other babies on the playground interpret it as a "dance", making him famous for it.
- In Little Princess, Princess is trying to get out of dancing by demonstrating what she doesn't like about it (eg demonstrating "too floaty and flappy" by flapping), thus starting a "dance" of her own.
- In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, martial artist Marco Diaz tends to go into a fighting stance whenever he is startled. In "Monster Bash", when he does this at a party, the others mistake it for a dance, calling it the "Sword Hand Dance". He attempts to correct them, but gives up and joins in.
- In Legend of the Three Caballeros, when Donald Duck does his usual Angry Fist-Shake, the partying Moai mistake it for a dance move and start imitating it.
- Johnny Bravo: In "Mascot Academy," Johnny becomes a football mascot, hoping to impress some cheerleaders. His antics fail to inspire the crowd until a rival mascot fills Johnny's costume with killer bees. Then the fans go wild, mistaking his agonized flailing and screaming for enthusiasm.
- The Italian dance of Tarantella, according to folks, started out when tarantulas bit farmers on the fields. Since the folks thought the spiders' bites were dangerous, they danced until they sweat to drive the venom out. Other people then danced to the beat and the heat, starting a dance frenzy.