It’s ironic. The oldest meme in the world is of all things: a dancing baby. It has been tap-dance since he was born in the mid-nineties dancing baby through internet forums, TV commercials, music videos, US late night shows and TV series. Usually there is a cha-cha to go with the hypnotic, stupid Oogachacka intro Hooked on A Feeling to the best. However, newer offshoots also dominate the Gangnam style. And apparently kung fu.
The world’s most beloved baby is now dancing on the blockchain and will be auctioned off today in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT) on the Foundation platform (https://foundation.app/collection/dancingbaby).
The auction is the preliminary climax of a long liaison between the two cultures. Memes have been booming in cryptospace for years. Words like “Hodl” and “When Lambo” are part of everyday usage, memecoins like Dogecoin (DOGE) reach market values in the billions, old memes are sold as NFTs and new ones are born directly in the form of NFTs like the Bored Apes.
“Memes are the foundation of the power of crypto culture,” told Chris Torres, creator of the popular Nyan Cat. But before the rise of crypto, its creators often remained unknown. Now they are becoming stars. And earn a lot.
“Before NFTs were introduced, no one knew that Nyan Cat actually had a creator,” says Torres. “NFTs give you, as a digital artist, the ability to provide proof of ownership, which was very important to me.” After years of watching others benefit from the work he created in 2011, he sold it as an NFT last year for almost half a million dollars.
Michael Girard, one of the originators of the dancing babies, the potential of NFTs looks similar. A new era is dawning for memes, their collectors and artists. “Artistic property no longer necessarily has to be associated with privately held physical objects,” he says.
Of course, money also played a role in his decision, that dancing baby for sale as NFT. But an even greater motivation was to work with the other original creators to digitally restore the dancing baby and let younger artists create their own collections. “I find that exciting and extremely satisfying. Regardless of how the NFTs ultimately sell.”
For Chris Torres, the project is a childhood dream come true. “I clearly remember how the meme spread across the early internet during my youth,” he says. “Today I have the opportunity to collaborate with the granddaddy of all memes. I think that’s great.”