CULTURE

"Numa Numa" Came Out 15 Years Ago, and My Life Has Flashed By

There are teenagers now older than I was when I first saw Numa Numa Dance.

In the days before YouTube existed, my middle school friends and I practically lived on Newgrounds.com.

Browsing Newgrounds during the daytime always felt like playing with a live grenade. My best friend Dave's family desktop was right smack in the middle of his living room, so his mom could see whatever us boys were doing as she milled about the kitchen. Newgrounds centered around user-submitted content, much of it animated, and most of it featuring a distinct "everything is stupid, nothing is precious" sense of humor characterized by over-the-top violence, sex, and razor-sharp edge. In other words, middle school me thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Sometimes during sleepovers, late at night after Dave's parents were asleep, we would head downstairs and gawk at Newgrounds' 18+ section together, which included lewd dating simulators featuring poorly designed cartoon avatars and a game where you could murder Steve from Blue's Clues.

But during the daytime, when Dave's mom had a chance of peeking in on our activities, we stuck to Newgrounds' homepage which skewed a little more tame, at least for the most part. It was on this very day (December 6th), 15 years ago, that we stumbled upon a fresh video on the homepage titled Numa Numa Dance.

Numa Numa www.youtube.com

The video featured a doughy man, later identified as one Gary Brolsma, dramatically lip syncing and dancing to the Romanian single "Dragostea Din Tei" by the Moldovan pop group O-Zone. Brolsma's performance was, in a word, perfect. The "dance" was stupidly basic, with Brolsma mainly pumping his fists up and down and gyrating side to side. His facial expressions were expertly timed (an eyebrow raise cued to a goofy sound effect, for instance), and on top of that, Brolsma was really funny looking.

We instantly loved Numa Numa Dance, watching it again and again and again, laughing uproariously as we attempted to copy Brolsma's moves. Numa Numa Dance would become the first "viral" dance video, hitting two million views on Newgrounds which, back then, was staggering.

There are teenagers now, older than I was when I first saw Numa Numa Dance, who weren't even alive when Numa Numa Dance came out. Which is to say, how does time move so fast?

15 years sounds like such a long time, but it doesn't feel like I first watched Numa Numa Dance over half my lifetime ago. When I think about Numa Numa Dance, it feels like only a few years back that we were hanging out in Dave's living room, playing N64, talking all night during sleepovers, and stealing Dave's older brother Matt's uncensored comedy CDs to listen to jokes our parents didn't want us to hear. How could Numa Numa Dance have come out 15 years ago?

The older you get, the more life becomes a series of disparate moments. Days, weeks, years blend together, leaving you with memories that are more like feelings, perhaps not even wholly real. All the rejections, disappointments, and pains of childhood dull over time, as rejection, disappointment, and pain become part and parcel with being an adult. But you only get so many Numa Numa Dances, and when you think back 15 years later, maybe those Numa Numa Dances are the only things that really mattered.