Almost 20 years after the end of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” co-star Alfonso Ribeiro’s character, Carlton Banks, is still likely most remembered for one thing: the “Carlton Dance” – the hilarious, rather simple, arm-swinging dance routine, often performed to Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual,” of course, mouth agape.
It’s remained so popular that there have even been “Carlton Dance” flash-mobs in recent years, and the actor is often asked to perform it whenever he’s in public forums, and often, he does with pleasure. He did so during an appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” last year.
But how did the dance itself all come about?
Ribeiro details its origins in an article published on Variety’s website yesterday. Here’s the key piece: “I played a character that was as far from myself as possible. They would have to bring me a CD and some articles for me to read up on what the character liked, because I had never heard of Tom Jones. I didn’t know Barry Manilow. These weren’t people that I grew up with or experienced as a teenager. I grew up in the Bronx; I was a hip-hop kid. The Carlton Dance was created when it said in the script: ‘Carlton dances.’ It was never even intended to be funny; it was just that he was dancing. The dance is ultimately Courtney Cox in the Bruce Springsteen video ‘Dancing in the Dark’; that’s the basis. Or in Eddie Murphy’s ‘Delirious’ video, ‘The White Man Dance’ as he called it. And I said, ‘That is the corniest dance on the planet that I know of, so why don’t I do that?’
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Interesting though that it wasn’t meant to be funny, and maybe even more of an aside; but it ended up becoming a hilarious staple of the character – one that simply will not die.
I could embed a video of the now famous “Carton Dance,” but I think we’ve all seen it enough times already. So, instead, I’ll share an even older video of Alfonso Ribeiro dancing, but this time, going back to his aforementioned Bronx hip-hop roots, which I’m sure many of you have seen, but maybe not as many as those who’ve watched him do the “Carlton Dance.”