Alright everybody, now here we go!
The first and original Web phenomenon, consisting of a sample from the song "Whistle Stop" by Roger Miller, sped up by about 60%, on eternal loop over a page full of animated GIFs of dancing rodents. Created by Canadian art student Deidre LaCarte as a GeoCities page in 1998. At the time the page was created, embedding background music in HTML pages was a fairly novel browser feature.
She created the Hampster Dance page in August 1998, and named the site Hampton's Hamster House in homage to her pet hamster, "Hampton Hamster", who on the page declared his intent to become a "Web star." About eight months after its creation, word-of-mouth about it hit a critical mass and its traffic soared from an average 600 hits a day to 15,000. Soon the site was featured on bumper stickers and in a television commercial for Internet service provider EarthLink. A common office prank at that time was to set a co-worker's browser homepage to the Hampster Dance Web site, which led to televised news reports that furthered its notoriety to an international level.
The popularity of the website led to the creation of an entire song called "The Hampsterdance Song" based around Roger Miller's "Whistle Stop" sample which was produced by The Boomtang Boys and released in July 2000. A cartoon video was produced for the single which introduced a digital "band" of hamsters, which was first credited solely as "Hampton the Hampster" but later as "Hampton and the Hampsters".
In 2005, CNET named the Hampster Dance the number-one Web fad.
Multiple versions of the song can be found on Youtube:
- Original "Whistle Stop" by Roger Miller
- Re-recorded by Hampton
- "Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia", an unofficial cover version by Cuban Boys
- A version attributed to Blue Man Group
Deidre LaCarte still maintains an expanded website at hampsterdance.com, which no longer looks much like the original page; however, it does host an "Original Hampsterdance" page, displaying a smaller set of dancing rodents.
Not to be confused with Hamtaro.
- Ear Worm: Deidre LaCarte credits the music with the site's success.
- Memetic Mutation: The Ur Example on the Internet.
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