The story of the ultimate Hallow-meme costume you never knew about – and can never have

halloween meme best costume dancing baby 1

“You know that Oogachaka baby, the one that appeared on the TV show, Ally McBeal? At one point, that was me.” When my friend Andy Palmer said these words, my jaw dropped, my mind went blank, and I just stared at him.

There are Internet icons that stand the test of time: There’s the “You Got Mail!” ping, the Like button, Leeroy Jenkins – and then there is the Dancing Baby GIF.

Andy Palmer is the son of Mike Palmer, who used to be head of Marketing & Sales at Kinetix, the internal start-up in Autodesk involved in the creation of the Dancing Baby.

It was originally intended to be part of a product called Character Studio and used with the 3D Studio Max suite. While the actual modeling and rendering of the animation was done by the Character Studio team, Mike was involved with the sales and marketing aspect of the project. In the creation process, he says “the animators did a lot of ‘playing’.”

“The Dancing Baby was created to show off some new character animation features of Biped, a module of Character Studio,” Mike tells with me.

Everything was positioned so perfectly for the Dancing Baby to be the first mass-produced Hallow-meme costume ever.

Within days after its release, the Dancing Baby became the de facto screensaver for anybody who considered themselves Internet elite. Mike vividly remembers the beginning of its unstoppable fame. “I think we got a call from David Kelley’s office [the Ally McBeal producer]. They wanted to know [the] royalty rates for turning the baby into a character on the show.” Autodesk’s legal department said that if Kelley bought the software, he could do anything he wanted with it. And so they did.

“I believe we did some tit-for-tat later, [like] maybe sending an animator to Hollywood to help do the character. They gave us lots of good publicity and a credit on the show. As with lots of things that get publicity, the Dancing Baby generated its own without much help from us.” Mouse pads, cups, shirts, the whole shebang followed shortly.

And one product a vendor wanted to market was a Halloween costume, an idea that makes sense: We’ve long loved dressing up as Internet pieces of pop culture, and this was one of the earliest memes to become a viral sensation. It had catapulted to insane infamy, and everything was positioned so perfectly for the Dancing Baby to be the first mass-produced Hallow-meme costume ever – only, this is what the costume looked like.

hanging dancing baby costume

While it never made it to mass production (for obvious, terrifying reasons), one of the units found its way into the Palmers’ possession – which is how Andy, for a few moments in time, was able to be the baby.

 “The costume came from one of the vendors who wanted to make a Dancing Baby Halloween Costume. Both Andy and his little brother, Jonny, wore it trick-or-treating. I remember people paying Andy to do the Dancing Baby dance,” Mike says.

According to Andy, he was in 7th grade when he first wore the costume and was very excited when his dad surprised him with it – he says the Dancing Baby dance moves came naturally to him. “My favorite memory with the costume was on New Year’s Eve for Y2K.  There was a big party that my family helped put together in Palo Alto – at least 200 people,” Andy recalls. “When the clock struck midnight, I burst out of a back room fitted out in the Dancing Baby costume and started doing the dance in the middle of the dance floor in front of everyone.  It was the perfect way to bring in the new Millennium!”

Unfortunately, the Dancing Baby costume never made it to store shelves, and Mike believes he has the original and only surviving unit.

But alas, it is no more. While there are plenty of meme costumes you can fashion for yourself, the ultimate one slipped through our fingers too fast. Luckily, with the Internet’s penchant for reinvention, who’s to say it won’t someday make a reappearance? 

Gone too soon, but never forgotten.

[Photos courtesy of the Palmer family.]

News

Japanese billionaire splashes the cash to break retweet record

Japanese billionaire entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa has proved again he has a knack for self-publicity after launching a cash-prize contest to break the retweet record. Maezawa is the same man who is hoping to go to the moon with SpaceX.
Movies & TV

Curious about 'Spider-Man: Far From Home'? Here's everything we know so far

Despite some mystery surrounding Spider-Man's future after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, Spider-Man: Far From Home swings into theaters in July 2019. Here's everything we know about the movie so far.
Smart Home

A.I.’s humorous side: Here are the funniest things to ask Alexa

Amazon's Alexa voice assistant has a wide repertoire of funny responses, jokes, and hidden replies that you can have fun with. Here are the best funny things to ask Alexa and examples of what her responses are.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Social Media

Looking to share some content? Here's how to repost on Instagram

Ever seen a cool picture on Instagram that you wanted to share? There's no official means of reposting content on Instagram, but there are a few workarounds. We break down the two most logical choices for getting the job done.
Photography

Photoshop fail gives Aussie leader two left feet in official portrait

The Aussie prime minister doesn't have two left feet, despite an official photograph of the leader and his family suggesting otherwise. It was, of course, a Photoshop fail, and the embarrassing snafu was soon trending on Twitter.
Computing

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.
Social Media

Instagram now lets you post to multiple accounts in one tap

Instagram for iPhone now lets you post to multiple accounts at the same time. It's not the regram feature that many users have been asking for, but it could prove useful for some users who manage more than one profile.
Social Media

No yolk! A photo of an egg has become the most-liked post on Instagram

Until this weekend, the most-liked post on Instagram was of Kylie Jenner's baby daughter, which has around 18 million likes. It's now been knocked off the top spot not by a stunning sunset or even a cute cat, but by an egg.
Social Media

Invite your friends — Facebook Events can now be shared to Stories

Facebook is testing a way to make plans with friends to attend an event -- through Stories. By sharing an event in Facebook Stories, users can message other friends interested in the event to make plans to attend together.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.