Headlines from Other Times
An imaginary series of events in a world where a dance step momentarily holds power.
Text: Parvathi Ramanathan
Dancer, Researcher and Writer who has occasional morning affairs with poetry
On 15 December 2023, the United States Congress passed a resolution declaring the Stack Thunder to be the National Dance Move of the country. Invented by two Rohingya teenagers in March 2023 year, the dance move has brought together people around the world and turned into a critical force in the public sphere globally.
Following the legislative’s declaration, PepsiCo reportedly filed a complaint with the US Patent and Trademark Office, claiming the step should be named Stack Pepsi-Thunder, due to the beverage company’s TV advertisement depicting the first instance of the dance move as a large-scale flash mob. Nearly a million protestors around the country challenged PepsiCo’s claim, stating that a common treasure could not be trademarked by a sole corporation. In response, PepsiCo’s share-price fell by 23%, with analysts warning of knock-on effects that might destabilize the entire stock market. “The global economy might crash faster than you can dance the Stack Thunder,” investment mogul Warren Buffet commented.
Meanwhile, parliaments of 130 countries – and counting – declared that they would break off diplomatic relations with the United States over the resolution. For a second consecutive day, US President Joe Biden had to cancel all meetings to call Heads of State to apologise. This afternoon, UNESCO issued a statement declaring: “Stack Thunder is a shared cultural asset and belongs to humanity, not to a country or a company.”
- March 2023: Two Rohingya girls – Menara Sheikh (14) and Zahira Ullah (15) – from Myanmar’s Rakhine state record themselves dancing the Stack Thunder on a boat fleeing for safety from the genocide in Myanmar. The dance becomes an instant viral success on all social media platforms.
- April 2023: Three governments offer citizenship to the teenage dance icons – Malaysia (where the boat arrived), Australia (where it was ultimately headed) and India (in whose waters the dance had been recorded). The government of Myanmar promised an end to the civil war, if the dancers returned to the country.
- May 2023: The British Museum acquires the mobile phone on which the first iteration of the Stack Thunder was filmed for GBP 25m. It has since been a star attraction in the museum’s exhibition of modern treasures.
- June 2023: Troops from North and South Korea engage in a joint dance of the Stack Thunder on the heavily militarised border, leading to the initiation of peace talks by both countries.
- July 2023: Stack Thunder Hydro III, a video game based on the dance, becomes the highest-selling game in history, with 400m copies sold.
- Aug 2023: Medical practitioners warn that the global sensation has led to a 3% increase in cardiac arrests, with gamers finding themselves dancing for up to 12hrs without break while playing the game.
- Sept 2023: Singer Lady Gaga installs Stack Thunder as an artwork in her living room by permanently having a rotating group of dancers perform the move.
- Oct 2023: Louis, the chimpanzee actor makes a screen comeback by becoming the first non-human to learn the Stack Thunder.
- Nov 2023: Astronauts currently in the International Space Station broadcast a video of them dancing the regional variations of the move that have developed since its inception including Stack Thunder Thumka (India), Stack Thunder Haka (New Zealand) and Stack Thunder Sauna (Finland).
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