If you used the Internet in the late 1990's or early 2000's, you may remember a certain GIF floating around of an animated baby dancing around on a black background. This little guy was truly a symbol of the novelty and purity of the Internet, and now it’s an NFT because of course it is. *Sigh*
So the history of the dancing baby isn’t particularly well documented, but according to Know Your Meme, the source file of the baby was released in 1996 as a part of a Character Studio package. Character Studio was a 3D rendering software within Autodesk’s 3DS Max software. In a recent video for BuzzFeed, Michael Girard explained that he wrote the Dancing Baby code as a sample file and Ron Lussier of LucasArts played with different variations of the baby. While the baby began to spread via email, Girard cites the show Ally McBeal for popularizing the animation.
The Dancing Baby has now been remastered in stunning (terrifying?) HD because, you guessed it, it’s an NFT. The original creators of the GIF joined forces with Vienna-based design studio HFA-Studio to further cement the meme into internet history. “More than 25 years after the Dancing Baby first went viral we will release a digitally restored, smooth high definition 1/1 artwork by the Original Creators as NFT, so the Dancing Baby can shake its hips forever,” HFA-Studio said in a press release. The original Dancing Baby NFT is one part of a larger “Dancing Baby Collection,” which features six additional versions of the artwork created by other artists.
NFTs have been seeing some faltering in their popularity in recent months, however. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that the NFT bubble might be about to pop, as NFT sales fell 92% from their peak in September 2021 while the number of active wallets fell 88% from its peak in November 2021. Fortune reported in March 2022 of similar instability: the average NFT price fell by around $4800 and total cumulative daily sales dropped $134 million—in just a few weeks time.
The Dancing Baby is not the first internet meme to be thrown up on the blockchain: the creator of Nyan Cat remastered the colorful feline for minting early last year. In a world where nostalgia is becoming an increasingly valuable commodity to cash in on, it would appear that the creators of some of the most memorable early Internet memes are now trying to do the same with NFTs (Hollywood figured out long ago that your memories are insanely valuable). These creators just might be hitting the scene too late for anyone to care.