Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Gamboling Bambinos on the WWW

By Devin D. O'Leary

MARCH 2, 1998:  Well, I've avoided the subject for as long as I can. But with its innumerable Web sites, its recurring appearances on FOX's "Ally McBeal", its recent Entertainment Weekly article and its guest shots on the Golden State Warriors electronic score board, I can no longer ignore this surging cultural phenomenon. The digitally animated Dancing Baby--or as he's sometimes referred to "Odd Dancing Baby," "Baby Cha Cha," "Peppy Dancin' Baby" and my personal fave "Disturbing Dancing Baby"--was originally created using some software called 3DStudio Max and Character Studio. Programmer Ron Lussier birthed the first baby as an example of the software's capabilities. This frighteningly realistic infant danced about a 10- second cha-cha, and quickly became an Internet sensation. The software was freely available, and Webheads were encouraged to create their own dancing baby. Create they did, and soon the phenomenon was hustling, lambadaing and hokey pokeying its way out of cyberspace with everything from TV appearances to T-shirts. Of course, the greatest proliferation in Babyana remains in the cloistered corridors of cyberspace.

The Original Dancing Baby Homepage (www.ktx.com/character/html/babycha.html-ssi)--If you really must view this digital phenomenon for yourself, you may as well start at the beginning. This is the homepage for Kinetix, the software company that birthed Dancing Baby. From here you can access other baby pages, check out the latest official baby animations (he's moved on to karate and acrobatics now) and otherwise track down baby-related news.

Dancing and Drunk Baby (www.binder4u.com/eyal/baby.html)--Yes, people were encouraged to get creative with the original Dancing Baby. Here's one particular fellow who took DB in some odd directions. This page's programmer felt that the Dancing Baby really needed some culture, so we've got several Mpeg and avi movies of the tyke dancing to a traditional Hebrew song. Who knew the kid was Jewish? Hard to tell with that diaper on. Things get even weirder with the "Drunken Baby" clip. Download this one to see the terpsichorean toddler smoke, drink and take a leak on the floor while trying to dance. This one's irreverent enough to be pretty damn funny in my book.

Dancing Baby Chat Room (www.thedancingbaby.com:8001/Join)--I was appropriately horrified to learn that there was an entire chat room dedicated to people whose only common interest is an unhealthy love of computer-generated dancing infants. In the interest of science, though, I did log on (under the name "Twinkie") to see what was going on. I must admit, however, that I was forced to log off in terror when the room's only other inhabitant (one ryx482, by name) walked up and said, "Hello." Ewww. I felt like I had just been to a convention of Hummell figurine collectors. I had to hunt up some Internet porn just to cleanse my palate before moving on to my final destination.

The End of Baby Cha Cha (www.digitalo.com/babycha/index.html)--Of course, somebody had to do it. Download this page's sole clip (in either avi or RealPlayer modes) to check out the final appearance of the dreaded Dancing Baby. He meets his messy and untimely death on the front grill of a large sedan. Woo-hoo! Well worth the price of admission!

devin@alibi.com


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