World going nuts over ‘Papaya Dance’

BY REYMA BUAN-DEVEZA – Filipinos have another item to addm to their list of unique accomplishments. Filipino choreographer Mel Feliciano together with actor and gameshow host Edu Manzano took an old gay-disco-funk hit from the 1970s, “Papaya”, by Polish jazz vocalist Urszula Dudziack and turned it into a global dance fad–much like the Macarena craze.

The latest proof of the Papaya Dance phenomenon is the March 21 episode of “Good Morning, America” aired over ABC Network in the United States, where a video of Filipino kids dancing the “Papaya” was featured, followed by Diane Sawyer and the other Good Morning America anchors doing their own version on live TV.

YouTube now has several videos that feature the Papaya Dance. The video showing kids dancing the Papaya (the one featured on Good Morning America) has been viewed 116, 571 times.

Even more views were tracked for a Papaya Dance video featuring Philippine Army soldiers (260,388 views). That army version was viewed more times than the one featuring PBB Teen Edition Big Winner Kim Chiu and other teen housemates (242,761 views).

One clip even featured Dudziack herself talking about the song on Polish TV interspersed with clips of the Philippine Army dance version (49, 501 views).

Manzano was even able to convince US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney to dance the Papaya with him on ABS-CBN’s morning show “Umagang Kay Ganda.”

The most viewed Papaya Dance video however is still the one showing Edu Manzano on the Philippine game show “Game Ka Na Ba (Are You Game)?” which has been viewed 358,899 times.

In the video, Manzano dons a huge afro together with 1970s era shades, funky bell-bottoms and other wardrobe from the era. He dances with much gusto along with his female backup dancers, who are also wearing 70s style clothing.

DJ’s choice

Manzano himself is astonished at how the Papaya Dance has caught on globally.

“It’s crazy. This whole world is going crazy. But it’s fun. … and I think, kung una mong pakikinggan iyong song you can help but break into a smile. There’s something about the song,” the GKNB? host told Monday morning.

“You know we were amazed ourselves at iyong mga nakukuhang reaction kapag napapakinggan ng mga tao ang aming dance. Admittedly of course nanggaling sa ibang bansa iyong original music. It came from a Polish singer and this was in the 70’s at napakinggan ng aming DJ na si DJ MOD,” revealed Manzano.

GKNB?’s DJ MOD then broached to Manzano the idea of making a new arrangement of the original song so they could use it to add more fun to the show.

“And then he introduced it to us. Sabi niya tignan mo ia-arrange ko ng konti, iaareglo ko ng konti bakit hindi natin paglaruan ito. And then here we are, iyon ang aking ‘Papaya’,” Manzano added.

Manzano said that even before the choreography was launched in GNKB? he already had a gut feeling that it would be popular.

“Sometimes you had the feel na magiging popular. Sometimes you have the feel of something but hindi namin akalain na hahaba ng ganito at lalaki ng ganito,” he said.

(I could feel that it would be a hit but I never thought it would reach so far and get so big.)

After rehearsing the choreography with the new musical arrangement, GKNB? director Bobet Vidanes had the idea of getting the entire studio audience to dance along. That helped create interest in the song and the dance.

The Papaya Dance was launched in GKNB? on April 2007 and became so popular that by August, Manzano had already released an entire dance album titled “Edu Manzano: World’s Greatest Dance Steps” with “Papaya” as its carrier single.

“Sa April mag-iisang taon na. And kaya pati kami nagulat because we never thought it would sustain itself this long. We saw it in Telemundo, we saw it in Reuters, nakita namin sa Japan, in Mexico , so talagang umiikot,” he said.

(In April it will be the anniversary of the Papaya craze. We saw it in Telemundo, we saw it in Reuters, we saw it in Japan and Mexico, so it really went around.)

Crazy world

Manzano, who leads the government’s anti-video piracy drive as the incumbent Optical Media Board chief, said that he encounters the Papaya Dance craze in the mos unexpected places.

Some Papaya Dance addicts even approached Manzano in Indonesia, when he observed an anti-video piracy raid by the Indonesian counterpart of the OMB.

“Kalagitnaan ng raid nilalapitan ako and said ‘you from Philippines, you papaya papaya?’ and I said ‘yes yes.’ Kinukuha iyong mga anak nila, may nagaganap na raid at sumasayaw sa harap nila iyong mga bata. So ang sinasabi ko it’s a crazy world,” he said.

(Right in the middle of the raid some people approached me and asked if I was from the Philippines and if I knew about the Papaya. I said yes and they called in their children while the raid was going on. Then the kids began to dance. I told myself that it’s a crazy world.)

Before the interview end Manzano reiterates the saying that everything has an end but for him he is still hoping that Filipino will be the first again to start a new big thing be it in music or in anything.

“You know along with hearing the song comes with a certain degree of pride. We are proud that the dance is Filipino, the music, of course, is from another country. [But] that only shows that we can all work together and do something of major impact. While today this is a song, it’s a dance, you know maybe this kind of cooperation and putting our hearts and minds together [will result in something even] more positive for all of us in the future,” he mused.

“Papaya” was a favorite track of Filipino drag queens as lip-synch material in the 1970s gay disco and bar scene.

Find more like this: Entertainment


  1. Yeah, why not dance you brown monkeys! Dance the papaya dance while your economy goes down the drain. Dance the papaya dance while your country is being bypassed by your neighboring countries. Dance while lining up for NFA rice! Why are people from the philippines so lame? Why is it that you were once 2nd only to Japan, but now bypassed by Thailand and Malaysia? Why is it you had the same population as Thailand before, but your population doubled while your economy sank? Is it really your government to blame or your stupidity and lameness as a people?

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