It all started with Jesse Lingard. Well, not really. The origins of football’s prevailing fad are actually rooted in the Atlanta hip-hop scene, with its sweeping cultural significance first seeping into American sports. But in footballing terms, Manchester United’s 3-3 draw with Newcastle United last January will go down as the moment The Dab infiltrated the Premier League.
Of course, Paul Pogba has made the Premier League Dab circuit his own since making the move to Man Utd in the summer. The Frenchman is football’s Grand Master Dab, celebrating every goal with his trademark move for years. He even performed it in a promotional video upon sealing his world record transfer to Old Trafford.
It’s not the most natural of movements. Sports Illustrated attempted to describe it in an article written in 2015. “The dance is pretty simple; one leans in to their elbow like they’re sneezing,” it explained. That pretty much sums up the absurdity of the routine. Someone somewhere must believe it looks cool, but this writer is still to find that person.
It was novel, even fun, for a while, like crowds of hipsters running around city parks catching Pokemon or your Dad posting his Running Man Challenge to Facebook. But the novelty has long worn off. Every Pokemon has been caught the world over, yet football has been left with the lingering legacy of The Dab. This is one fad that refuses to fade.
Extravagant celebrations have long been a part of football. Nani’s back flip method of marking a goal would have looked somewhat out of place had it been performed on a turnip field of a pitch in the 1970s or 80s, but in the modern age the Portuguese is free to react as elaborately as his body allows him.
But at least with Nani there is an element of physical prowess. Not everyone can back flip several times from a standing start before landing upright on their feet. The same can’t be said of the The Dab, a move so easy to pull off even Bill Gates has been caught doing it.
The Dab is essentially used as the salt to rub into the wounds of opponents. It’s a way of bragging, underlining the bombastic majesty of what has just happened. That’s why certain players get away with and others don’t. For the swaggering, self-confident, flamboyant Pogba, it works. For someone like Charlie Adam, it wouldn’t. Richard Dunne never performed a Dab.
So what else is sport about to borrow from the Atlanta hip-hop scene? Twerking originated in the Georgian city before it was brought to the masses by the buttocks of Miley Cyrus, so should we expect Pogba and Lingard to start celebrating their goals with a group twerking? Now that would be quite the sight.
The hallmark of the younger generation, the Dab has become the official seal of cool. Hillary Clinton was all too aware of that when he attempted to perform it on an episode of the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Quite the vote winner that turned out to be. It was like being in the car when your Mum turns up the radio for that one Kanye West song she likes. Everyone in the audience presumably wanted to slide down in their seat so nobody would see them.
And so the tipping point has been reached. The Dab is now doing more harm than good. As is the case with all trends, it has crossed far too far into the mainstream, to the point where Piers Morgan probably isn’t far off welcoming you to Good Morning Britain with a Dab. It won’t be long before the death knell is rung. For football, for society, for all of us, that day can’t come soon enough.