Here, Because Life Is Sometimes Rewarding, Is Elaine Benes Dancing Through History
The cruelty of the universe lives in its indifference as all matter slowly approaches the cold, dark inevitability of heat death. But I’m alive in a time when Elaine Benes can boogie with Beyoncé and Mr. Blonde, so maybe there is a God.
On October 10, 1996, NBC broadcast an episode of Seinfeld that contained one of the most iconic scenes not just in sitcom history, but in the entire record of dance. In “The Little Kicks,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus delivers a dance set to the Earth, Wind & Fire song “Shining Star” that is so arhythmic, so spastic and so unseemly that Jerry’s description of “a full body dry heave set to music” is somehow inadequate. Little did Louis-Dreyfus know at the time that, for the next 27 years, complete strangers would beg her for a rendition of the shameful shuffle as the legend of the leg-shaking outlived Seinfeld itself by decades.
The “Little Kicks” dance has enjoyed a second life following the unfortunate series finale as grade-A meme material, and, for my money, no reappropriation of the iconic scene makes me more grateful to be alive than one recently cut by mashup masters the Bell Brothers. Sweet fancy Moses be praised.
The original dancing scene in “The Little Kicks” was filmed without music, as Louis-Dreyfus determined that her instincts to stay on beat would overpower her ability to fully embarrass herself, but, somehow the Bell Brothers managed to make every jerking, undulating motion sync up perfectly not just to the popular meme song “Makeba” by Jain, but to Wednesday Addams, Carlton Banks, Steve Urkel and, of course, the meme master himself Rick Astley as they each align their iconic moves to the music of existence itself.
Puddy may have been convinced that Elaine was going to hell, but, if there is a heaven, it’s hard to imagine that Saint Peter wouldn’t let Elaine come up to kick it with the Jets.