Haidilao's 'Subject Three' dance: a spicy blend of hotpot and hand wringing
China's hotpot chain restaurant Haidilao has found itself at the center of a viral sensation not because of its food but for a viral video of its staff energetically performing the "Subject Three" dance.
Combining the delights of hotpot with rhythmic dance moves, the video circulated on Chinese social media and has sparked heated debates among Chinese netizens.
The "Subject Three" dance originated from a lively wedding celebration in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region where locals danced joyously together. The tradition evolved into a cultural phenomenon, suggesting that in a Guangxi native's life, there are three essential experiences: singing folk songs as Subject One, slurping rice noodles as Subject Two, and dancing as Subject Three.
At Haidilao, customers can request the "Subject Three" dance by simply asking servers. In one of the viral video clips, a waiter identified as Xiao Pang stumbled into the spotlight after performing the dance to enhance the atmosphere of a birthday party for one of the customers in the restaurant.
Xiao Pang told Chao News that he had learned the dance on the Internet.
"I enjoy dancing in my free time, so I gave it a try and, after a few attempts, I mastered it," Pang said.
Before the "Subject Three" dance exploded in popularity at Haidilao, it had already gained traction on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.
Public reception of the viral dance has been mixed. While some appreciate the lively atmosphere it creates at restaurants, others find it awkward and distasteful.
The hashtag "Parent complained that taking her child to Haidilao and witnessing Subject Three dance is very uncomfortable" climbed to the top of Weibo's trending topics recently. A customer from Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province shared her dining experience online and claimed that throughout the meal, the loud music and the dance, a "cheesy one with twists and turns," made her family, especially her child, feel uncomfortable.
Haidilao management revealed that since the "Subject Three" dance went viral, many staff members have taken it upon themselves to learn the moves. However, the adoption of this "innovative" service varies across outlets.
Addressing speculation about high salaries for the dancing staff, a Haidilao spokesperson clarified that compensation varies based on location and role. Innovations like the "Subject Three" dance are rewarded as part of a performance incentive, encouraging employees to take the initiative in creating a vibrant atmosphere.
After the "Subject Three" dance, Haidilao service staff began to perform another viral dance called "glass-cleaning," which involves twisting and turning while hand in hand with customers. The hashtag "Haidilao staff's performance of glass-cleaning dance was accused of being vulgar" also became a trending topic on Weibo on Wednesday.