end of an era

So Long, ‘Single Ladies’: A Retrospective

Beyoncé is reportedly retiring her hand-waving “Single Ladies” dance routine, effective immediately. After enduring nearly two years of nonstop tributes, parodies, lip dubs, and flash mobs, one understands why the singer might decide that, in the words of her husband, she’s off that. As millions adjust to this strange new world, Vulture looks back at the leading dance craze of the 21st century: the highs, the lows, the Liza Minnelli.

The Highs
November 15, 2008: Justin Timberlake dons a black leotard on SNL for the first-ever “Single Ladies” parody. The sketch co-stars Beyoncé, perplexed as to why three dudes have been cast as her backup dancers.

January 18, 2009: Two days before his inauguration, Barack Obama tells Beyoncé that he’s done the routine for his family. To prove it, he briefly flashes the hand-wave (go to 7:14).

September 23, 2009: On Glee, William McKinley High School’s football team distracts their opponents with the “Single Ladies” choreography, then scores the game-winning touchdown. Clearly, the Colts missed this episode.

March 29, 2010: “You’re not a single lady.” In five words, a father devastates his 3-year-old son.

February 19, 2010: “I actually created that dance,” Jay-Z tells the BBC’s Jonathan Ross. “I said, ‘You should do this,’ and she did it,” he says, waving his hand (2:23).

The Lows
June 3, 2009: Six months after Justin Timberlake did it on SNL, Joe Jonas posts an agonizing, four-minute parody on YouTube.

December 23, 2009: Anthropomorphic all-girl CGI chipmunk trio the Chipettes perform the number (1:35) in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

April 20, 2009: One-hundred dancers gather in London’s Piccadilly Circus for a “Single Ladies” flash mob. Somehow, this is a promotion for Trident gum.

April 10, 2010: A group of 7-year-olds create controversy with their provocative version of the routine. Dr. Phil deems the performance “inappropriate.”

May 27, 2010: Liza Minnelli, 64, puts a ring on it (1:01) in Sex and the City 2.

So Long, ‘Single Ladies’: A Retrospective