As I scrolled down my Twitter timeline a few weeks ago, I saw a video of Michigan high schooler Destiny Laurynn moonwalking in a pair of Timbs. She was not only bodying just about all of the most popular dance moves, but she was also doing them backwards, to a song called "Reverse Nation." I was impressed, and attempted to do the dance myself, only to end up discombobulated and out of breath.
The dance actually started back in June, when Michigan hip-hop dancer Shmateo uploaded an Instagram video the featured that same forwards-backwards style. As Shmateo rewound moves like hit the quan, the milly rock, and hit the folks, his crew cheered him on. The technique, which Shmateo named Reverse, is technically more advanced than #JujuOnThatBeat or the #RunningManChallenge. Still, Shmateo's moves inspired others to give it a shot.
Four months after Shmateo did the Reverse, The Execs, a Newark, New Jersey-based rap duo, made an instructional anthem inspired by the challenge's viral potential. Bandmates Executive P.S. and Executive Coop released the song, "Reverse Nation," in September 2016. The two said they co-produced and recorded the track in an hour, shouting out dances and pairing them with ad-libs.
"Reverse Nation" has long counts between each section, giving a person room to be creative. It has a trap beat, which makes it easy to dance to — even if you don't know how to Reverse. "We’re not the biggest fans of Do the hokey pokey and spin yourself around type of dances, Executive Coop said. "We felt like if we were clever enough it could still feel like a rap song and you could still have people dancing."
With almost 200,000 plays on YouTube at the time of this writing, the song's modest momentum can be somewhat credited to Tyshawn "Yvng Swag" Jackson, a 17-year-old dancer and rapper from Maryland; a video of him and a friend doing the #ReverseChallenge to "Reverse Nation," originally posted in October 2016, now has over 200,000 views, too. According to The Execs, they'd first connected with Swag after seeing him perform Reverse to the song "Krew-libs" by Atlanta artist Mr. Hotspot. Swag said he watched the Reverse creator Shmateo do the dance six times before he got it on his own.
"It was different, and definitely a move that wasn’t in the hip-hop era that I’d seen," Swag said. "Shmateo created the basics, but once you get the reverse part, you can do it with any dance that’s out right now. It’s basically adding your own flavor and twist to it. If you have the reverse part down, you can do that with anything."
Now the dance is making it's way around the internet, and teens everywhere are starting to try the #ReverseChallenge for themselves. Shmateo did not immediately respond to a request for a comment, but in a conversations with The FADER, The Execs and Swag both acknowledged him as the originator of the movement. The #ReverseChallenge hasn't gone full-on viral yet, but it stands out as one of the more impressive and creative challenges on the come up.