CLIENT NEWS: How TikTok's 'Glitch Queen' created the app's hottest dance of the summer
Updated: Aug 1
Historically, many of TikTok's most popular dance crazes have been slick and graceful, like the polished sequences for "Say So" and "Renegade." But in the past week, a new dance move that's nearly the opposite of smooth has skyrocketed into virality.
"Glitching" is all about making quick lurching motions that make you appear to malfunction. It's quickly become the hottest TikTok dance of the summer.
The trend was launched by Vanessa Clark (@glitchgirlmaster), a 17-year-old student at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science who is from Worcester, Massachusetts.
On June 19, Clark posted her first glitch-dance video on the account @glitchgirlmaster and released a string of additional videos that exploded in views. The account has ballooned from 20,000 followers to more than 1.4 million in the past week. Fans have dubbed her TikTok's "Glitch Queen."
Initially, "glitching" was just one move, which became Clark's signature - a clip sped up three times with TikTok's speed filter showing Clark's outstretched hands swiftly jerking back and forth in a hypnotic motion as if she were explaining something in a conversation and suddenly began to buffer like a YouTube video loaded with poor Wi-Fi connection.
Clark, who told Insider she has no formal dance training, said she came up with the now-iconic move by accident.
"The first video I did wasn't really a glitch - it was a shoulder dance," she said. For the second video, she moved in sync with the fast, sputtering beat, which made her look like she was glitching. Within a few days, that video racked up millions of views.
Many creators challenged themselves to pull off the moves as seamlessly as Clark, while others invented their own unique glitch maneuvers.
Clark said other TikTok users have previously performed glitch-dancing, but she thinks that her "chill," no-frills demeanor sets her videos apart.
"When a lot of people glitch, they do transitions, but I don't," she said. "I just sit down on my kitchen counter and it looks cool, and I think people really like that."
One crucial part of the trend's appeal is its versatility. While most major TikTok dance trends hinge on a single song, these moves can work with any song and transcend genre boundaries. As proved by Clark's song choices, the dance can be performed with distorted trap, '90s hip-hop, groovy R&B, and even chaotic hyperpop. Songs just need to have a repetitive element - such as a stuttered vocal sequence or a rapid spree of drums - for a dancer to flick and snap their limbs to.
The song that Clark first use - and the one most commonly associated with the trend - is Luci4's trap tune "Kurxxed Emeraldz," which Clark helped blow up. The song has more than 1.5 million plays on Spotify and soundtracks almost 100,000 videos on TikTok.
The dance craze follows last year's "#glitchcore" TikTok fad, in which creators like @iguana_alana produced haywire videos with robotic dance moves, rainbow lights, and similarly glitched-out music.
But with "glitchcore," creators mostly used editing software for their videos, while TikTokers like Clark say they're performing the glitches in real time without any special effects, aside from TikTok's built-in speed filter.
Clark said she has a few ideas for how to innovate the dance even more, like experimenting with walking and running glitches. But mostly, she's just thrilled to see how many people are performing her routine.
"Everyone's having fun with the challenge. … I see people not just from America, but internationally," she said. "It makes me happy that people all over the world are doing it."
July 1, 2021