Zelfs Amerika is de konijnendans niet ontgaan

Waar een klein land groot in kan zijn.

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mrt. 6 2014, 10:00pm

Of je de konijnendans - of de techno shuffle, zoals liefhebbers hem liever noemen - nu haat of niet, sinds het epische filmpje van Jesse Reinier Nieuwenhuijzen is ons techno dansje ook beroemd in het buitenland. Na zo'n anderhalf miljoen views kon een mailtje uit Amerika dan ook niet uitblijven. Of we even konden vertellen wat er precies met deze Neder-ravers aan de hand was? Zie hieronder het resultaat, een artikel gepost op de Amerikaanse site van THUMP. Hoe lang nog voordat ze in alle vijftig staten allemaal aan de Rabbit Dance zijn?

"We always have these dance crazes, and it's weird because we're not a very funky country," said Aron Friedman, Dutch DJ, electronic music writer, and (full disclosure) editor of THUMP Netherlands. "We're not real good dancers to start with, so putting it in a formula works for us." He's talking about what's scathingly referred to as the Rabbit Dance, the latest evolution in a series of Dutch dance trends. In the 90s, it was Hakken, a spastic flailing dance spawned by gabber music, and in the naughties, the hardstyle scene birthed the wildly athletic Jumpstyle moves. The rabbit's closest cousin is the Australian-born Melbourne Shuffle.

It began about three years ago, when techno and house surfaced in Holland's mainstream music scene. In no time, the techno-house-rave continuum exploded. Weekend festivals became more popular, DJs were in demand, and the newly-converted dancers latched on to the rabbit.

It starts with the nonstop leg movement. Rabbit dancers shuffle their feet back and forth, tapping their toe and heel on the ground with each movement, in repetitive bunny hop formation. The dance is set apart from its predecessors mostly by the arm work. Dancers curl their arms back and forth by the elbow and round their hands into fists like a bunny. Truth be told, it's not all that different from the kind of dancing that goes on at raves around the world. It's only a slight variation on a virtually universal formula in which dancers bob from foot to foot and jack their arms. "Kids can go on for entire evenings and days doing the rabbit dance," Friedman said. "They're like Energizer Bunnies."

For the noobs who prefer the more general term "shuffling," the faster and more frenzied the better. Many rave dancefloors now host giant circles of competing rabbit dancers—and the more experienced heads aren't having it. "They're like, 'The mainstream is taking our techno and doing silly dances with the music we think is cool,'" Friedman exaplins.

The disgruntled punters lashed out with a Facebook group. "You have to watch some videos, then you'll know how stupid they dance," wrote the creator of the anti-rabbit Facebook group who answered my message under the condition of anonymity. "When techno became mainstream they multiplied like rabbits," the group founder wrote. He's a 24-year-old who's been raving for the past six years, and he started the page this past September as a joke. But over the course of two days, it racked up more than 2000 likes, and thus an anti-rabbit revolution was born. "We want to make clear that it's annoying and people have to watch out," the leader wrote.

"The rabbit dance is a programmed dance for youngsters," he went on. "These bunnies try the dance at home in front of the mirror because they think it's cool and they think that they are good dancers, but most of them can't do the dance good [sic]. It looks funny and a little bit pathetic." He has a personal vendetta, too. "Last time I got an elbow against my face because it was very crowded and a stupid bunny was trying to steal the show." Enough was enough. Now he makes anti-rabbit stickers to hand out and stick on annoying rabbit dancers at raves.

Of course, the anti-rabbit group has its own critics. "I just don't see how people give themselves the right to judge other people on how they dance," Benjamin Jeyaratnam, a 22-year-old Event Management student at HU Utrecht messaged me. "My main question for the antis is: how should we dance to techno?" Jeyaratnam started the Techno Moves page this January in response to the anti-rabbit page. "I got sick of the idea that someone goes to a party just to make a fool of people who are having the time of their lives. Live and let live, right?"

He has his own techno dance coming-of-age story: Jeyaratnam started attending techno festivals about a year and a half ago and didn't know how to dance. "But I went to a festival almost every weekend, so I started to create my [own] dance," he wrote. Jeyaratnam saw someone "shuffling" and "the happiness on his face, the perfect timing of the steps, made me want to do something like that." Now, he's the leader of the new school. He's had close friends fall victim to anti-rabbit Facebook video shame and says people at parties are now afraid to dance for the fear that they might be posted on the anti-rabbit page or slapped with an anti-rabbit sticker.

Jeyaratnam admits that he understands why other dancers might be frustrated by large groups taking over precious dance floor space to shuffle with abandon, but he refuses to deny anyone the freedom to speak through their body. Hours after we finished speaking, he sent one last message. This time a picture with the words, "This is exactly what it's all about."

But the anti-rabbit contingent says they're only pushing for a more original approach to cutting a rug: "It doesn't matter how you dance, just be yourself. It's funny because on my page, 'the rabbits' say that this is who they are and what they feel, but I can't believe it." Jeyaratnam thinks the antis are conservative curmudgeons, "They're just not willing to accept that there's a new generation coming." And indeed there is: it's a generation of endlessly energetic Dutch rabbits.