The Hampster Dance is one of the earliest examples of an Internet meme.
It's a very basic animated GIF of hamsters and bunnies dancing to a sped up music track.
Interestingly, it was created by a Canadian art student, Deidre LaCarte, who was competing with her best friend and sister to see who could create a site that would generate the most internet traffic.
Deidre originally posted the dancing hamsters on Geocities, a site that offers free web hosting. It was a homage to her pet hamster 'Hampton'. She used four simple animated GIFs and repeated them dozens of times. She embedded background music in the site which she got from the opening credits to the Walt Disney version of Robin Hood, called 'Whistle Stop'. The tune was sped up and modified. But because this was technically a copyright infringement, she eventually had to take the song down.
Initially, the site only had about 4 visitors a day, but without warning it suddenly jumped to 15,000 per day. The website spread by e-mail, newsgroups and bumper stickers.
Click here to see the original dancinghampster animated GIF.
The dancing hamsters eventually featured in a television commercial.
A couple of CDs were released featuring the Hampster Hits. You can also buy t-shirts and other merchandise featuring the dancing critters. The Hampsterdance song even climbed the Canadian and Australian Top 40 charts for a while.
Fans of the site created variations on the original dance, using everything from mushrooms to Cheeseburgers to Pez dispensers.