It’s only been a year since Katy Perry appeared on SNL alongside a kid with a backpack aggressively shaking his arms, but it feels like “flossing” has been here all along. The 16-year-old behind the viral dance, Russell Horning, was just a high schooler in Atlanta when Rihanna first reposted his dance on Instagram, earning him a fan club overnight. Now with over 1 million followers on Instagram, he’s got an entire generation at his fingertips — and he loves it.
Name: Russell Horning, aka the Backpack Kid
Favorite app: Instagram , or Settings — because you can’t work iPhone without that.
What he does: Dance.
Three words he’d use to define Gen Z: Modern. Technology. iPad.
How he invented the Floss: I was looking in the mirror one day, and I was dancing and I thought, “This has a nice little groove to it.” So I started doing it on Instagram. I had 393 followers at the time, and I said, “All right, guys, let’s get to 400.” And I woke up, and it was 4,000.
What he thought when Rihanna posted his dancing: I think I was popping a little before Rihanna, but when Rihanna posted, it really blew up.
Why he thinks the Floss is so popular: I think it took off because it’s something nobody had ever seen, and it’s hard to do for most people — it’s not hard for me — so when someone sees someone trying it, it makes them want to try it too.
How dance entered his life: My style of dance is not like everybody else’s. I dance for a comedy purpose. I didn’t start really dancing until two years ago. That’s when I first started flossing in public at a church camp on the dance floor. It wasn’t anything at the time; it didn’t even have a name. The people who watched SNL named it.
What he wishes older people understood about Gen Z: Musicwise, rap. Because rap was just beginning when our parents were young, so it’s a lot different than it is now. I don’t think they understand the true uniqueness and the value of rap.
His greatest accomplishment (so far): Katy Perry’s video shoot. Her “Swish Swish” music video has over 100 million views on YouTube. It’s like wow, Katy Perry’s music video.
What he’ll be doing 10 or 20 years from now: I’m just blowing with the wind. I’m trying to get into music or acting. Whatever floats my boat. As long as I’m having fun doing it, then I will continue doing it.