Back in 2017, you couldn’t go anywhere without “Floss” memes and videos. Fast forward to 2021 and Russell Horning, aka the Backpack Kid, is 19 years old, and he’s still counting on viral fame.
Who is Russell Horning, aka the Backpack Kid?
Russell Horning is a dancer and social media personality. He was born on Dec. 19, 2001, making him 19 years old at the time of writing. He lives in Atlanta, Ga., with his mother.
How did Russell Horning become the Backpack Kid?
In 2016, at 14 years old, Horning posted videos of himself dancing on his Instagram and his follower count began to climb.
“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,” Horning told Yahoo Lifestyle.
When Rihanna shared a video of him dancing on her Instagram, he started to get even more attention. He became known as the Backpack Kid because he often danced while wearing his signature backpack.
Horning started to become known for the “Floss” dance.
Horning, whose dance style is ironically serious and stiff, believes he invented the “Floss” dance, although that’s been much debated. The “Floss” requires rapidly swinging your arms through your hips in a specific pattern of motion.
In May 2017, Katy Perry featured a ton of internet-famous folks in her Saturday Night Live “Swish Swish” performance. Among them was 15-year-old Horning, who performed the “Floss” dance on national television.
“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,” Horning told Yahoo Lifestyle in 2018.
Horning was also featured in the music video for “Swish, Swish” alongside internet stars like Christine Sydelko and Doug the Pug.
In 2018, Horning sued Epic Games for using his dance.
Epic Games’ Fortnite featured the “Floss” dance in its game. This prompted Horning to sue the game developers for using the dance without his permission. However, in 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the lawsuit had no legal merit since the dance was never copyrighted by Horning, and he and his mother withdrew the suit.
Did the Backpack Kid invent the “Floss” dance?
Whether or not Horning invented the dance is unknown. It could be that he came up with it on his own and, because it wasn’t very popular, assumed it was his creation.
However, internet sleuths uncovered an old YouTube video from 2011 where a man appears to do it in his home. They also uncovered a clip of a Mormon boyband performing the dance in a 2012 cover of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.”
What is the Backpack Kid up to now?
Horning has continued to create content for his millions of followers on social media. He has snagged endorsement deals with Checkers and the Georgia Swarm Lacross team.
In 2018, he released a music video for his song called “Flossin” featuring DJ Suede The Remix God.
The influencer plans on releasing a line of merchandise including backpacks and T-shirts.
In 2020, he told Inside Edition he annually makes “at least six figures,” so he is doing quite well.
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