Everyone and their dog joined TikTok during the lockdown. What was once widely regarded as the Gen Z app du jour is now a trans-generational, trans-national platform that’s become an even hotter-hotbed of trends, dances, challenges and trends.
Fittingly, the latest trend to sweep the platform is the “culture dance”, a challenge that sees teens and early 20-somethings proudly denote their heritage by flexing their national dress for users around the world to see.
The general gist of the trend can be explained like this: the creator waltzes into eyeshot wearing day-to-day apparel that reflects their sense of style, while the clothing traditionally associated with their heritage is seen in the background laid over a chair. Then, as the beat for Hot Seat by Billies Baby kicks in, they flop onto the chair and – with the help of some nifty editing – are magically transformed, now decked head to toe in their traditional dress.
The entries so far show off Native American headwear, dazzling saris courtesy of Indian teens, and vibrant Nigerian Igbo attire, all of which you can see below.
“The trend started off as showing off one’s style and clothing, and then it started becoming a trend where people could show off their culture. Although I do enjoy also watching people’s unique style of clothing, that one video from @milan.mathew on TikTok caught my attention more than the other videos – it was a culture I’m not as familiar with and you could see the beauty of her culture through the video. I feel like this trend gives people a glimpse into different traditions that we’re not used to seeing, letting us appreciate [each] other’s heritage more.”
@_gab.riella, 21, Chicago
“I teach Filipino dance on the side and one of my younger students sent me a video of a woman doing the trend with her traditional Indian garments. She told me I should do a Filipino version. I hadn’t seen any with Filipinos so I was really excited to join the trend. I think it’s amazing how posting one video can be so educational for the whole world. The Philippines has so much history and culture. People don’t often see the indigenous parts of the Philippines and I wanted it to be seen. I love being able to show people the culture that has made me who I am today.”
@aaronzzsz, 16, Dallas
“I saw @milan.mathew do an Indian version of the trend. I saw that there were hardly any Indian boys doing it, so I decided to do it. I love the challenge because it allows Tiktok to be exposed to so many different cultures y’know? There’s Indian and there’s Mexican, Indigenous, African and Central and East Asian [culture]. It’s amazing for all of these different cultures to be incorporated into one trend.”
@zara.csv, 19, Connecticut
“My mom and I both loved seeing BIPOC taking over the sound and using it to show off their culture. My first ever TikTok was of me and my mom wearing traditional Indian clothing in March. So when we saw the trend we were super excited to do it again! We also have so many Indian clothes and no occasion to wear them so it’s fun for us to dress up and put on our new suits.”
@feelin_iffy, 23, New Jersey
“One of my friends sent me a video of this girl who did a Nigerian version and told me to give it a try. I was looking at the original video, and all the other videos, and loved seeing other people in their cultural outfits. So I tried it and loved it!”