Whether you know them as Dancing Pallbearers, the Dancing Coffin Meme, or Coffin Dancers, they are entertaining to say the very least.
The Coffin Dancers are a true viral phenomenon that hit the bigtime with a video uploaded to YouTube in 2015. Musical funeral processions are common in some areas of the USA – especially in the New Orleans vicinity – but this one really took it to the next level.
Come on this journey to discover the history of coffin dancing, view some great videos, and find out how to hire your own. Enjoy!
What Are Coffin Dancers?
Coffin Dancing is a tradition to celebrate a death and the journey to the next birth or world. The dancers are pallbearers who dance instead of walk, with joy instead of solemnity.
It is believed that dancing with the coffin at the funeral brings joy to the deceased’s soul. The dancing most certainly brings joy to the funeral celebrants!
Coffin Dancing Meaning & Practice
Funerals are an interesting occasion. There’s sadness for sure. But there can also be a sense of triumph or even festivity as mourners remember their loved one, honor their life, celebrate all that the person meant to them and their community, and rejoice that they are no longer in pain and on their journey to the next life.
Coffin dancers provide one way to combine these themes of joy and sadness. The grief and sense of loss is natural, yet we also look for ways to celebrate and see the good in all things. That’s how coffin dancing can help.
Most times, it’s not just a few people dancing in the videos below. But continue to watch, and you will also notice people in the crowd begin to rejoice in the music.
The reason for this is simple. Exposure to music can be very therapeutic. Music will lighten the mood and help to reduce anxiety. Music at a funeral can be a soothing balm to the soul.
Their swinging, dancing movements are synchronized and choreographed to gospel music in the US or cultural music elsewhere worldwide.
History of Coffin Dancing
Traditional mourning dancing has been around for years and years, existing in numerous cultures from ancient times up to the present. Dances can have religious and cultural significance, at the root of which is the human desire to honor the dead and remember them with joy.
The practice of pallbearers has an equality rich and varied history. “Pall” is short “pallium,” the term for the cape or cloak worn by soldiers. A warrior who died in battle would be covered with their pallium (which was soon shortened to “pall”), and their body would be borne by their friends and comrades.
This is how those who carried the pall-draped body came to be called pall-bearers. Most cultures have some sort of tradition where the body is ceremonially carried to the burial site as part of their funerals.
Benjamin Aidoo began a pallbearer service in Ghana in 2003, and soon had the idea to combine pallbearing with music and mourning dancing. Thus the Coffin Dancers were born.
Top 10 Coffin Dance Videos And Other Send-Offs
We’ve talked all about the definition, history, meaning, and description of coffin dancing. But you won’t really understand how it came to be a smash-hit internet meme until you watch it.
Here are our ten favorite coffin dancing videos, beginning with the one that started it all.
1. The Original Coffin Dance Video
The Dancing Pallbearers are led by Benjamin Aidoo, who started the group as a regular pallbearer service back in 2003. The dance went viral in 2015 and has since garnered over 3 million views when a woman shared a video of her mother-in-law’s funeral in Ghana.
2. Coffin Dance in Nigeria
Igbo culture comes from southeastern Nigeria. It encompasses the customs, practices, and traditions of the Igbo people. The Igbo people’s religious belief is that there is one creator, called ‘Chineke’ or ‘Chukwu.’ This video shows Nigerian-style coffin dancers in action.
3. Funeral Service Shenanigans
Those are some stylish and smooth moves from these six pallbearers! They’re just having a bit of fun at a funeral director’s convention.
4. New Zealand Haka Funeral Dance
The haka can be performed at funerals or other places where the dead are mourned or remembered. It is an essential part of the Māori (indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand) mourning process. The dance allows participants to release their anger that a loved one has passed.
5. Viral Coffin Dancers Interview
The Coffin Dancers of Ghana show us how it’s done! Meet the man behind the dance, Benjamin Aidoo, and his crew. Hear and see the how and why they celebrate in this interview from Drew Binsky.
6. Professional Dancing Pallbearers – Ghana
This type of “celebration of life” happens if the person has died old and naturally. Younger deaths, especially funerals that involve parents burying their children, are not celebrated in this way.
7. Dancing Coffin for Grandmother
This is such a joyful send-off for a dearly beloved Grandmother. The crowd respectfully watches, with some onlookers swaying to the music.
8. New Orleans Jazz Funeral Dancers
The jazz funerals of New Orleans developed throughout the 20th century to come to be recognized as one of the most admired ways to revere the life of a loved one.
9. Ernest “Doc” Watson’s New Orleans Jazz Send-Off
Ernest “Doc” Watson mentored and influenced several generations of jazz musicians. The female Grand Marshal is Jennifer Jones – I wish we all enjoyed our jobs as much as this lady does! The New Orleans jazz funeral salutes a life well lived and the crossing of a bygone soul onto the next world.
10. Funeral Haka for Dawson Tamatea
When a Haka is done at a funeral, it is a sign of the highest respect. Dawson Tamatea was one of the most beloved teachers at Palmerston North Boys’ High School in New Zealand. So as their final tribute, the entire student body turned out to perform a traditional Haka at his funeral.
How to Hire Dancing Pallbearers
Some funeral homes offer the service of coffin dancing. This practice is more common in the American South but is increasingly showing up elsewhere.
A dancing pallbearer service can cost as much as $1,400 per show. Professional pallbearers will march, or even dance, caskets to the grave.
If you are in the market for professional pallbearers, ask your local funeral home to help you locate these professionals, and try searching with local parameters including your city, county, or region.
Coffin Dancer FAQs
What is the song from the dancing coffin meme?
The song from the original video is Astronomia by Vicetone & Tony Igy.
Why do Ghanaian pallbearers dance?
The idea of dancing is to provide the deceased with a flashy, festival-like send-off. This is a nice contrast to the traditional somber service.
But before beginning the dance, the pallbearers will ask the grieving family a question. “Do you want to give your loved one a traditional funeral or a dancing trip to heaven?”
Benjamin Aidoo, the group’s leader, wants to teach the world to hold joyful funerals.
Is the coffin dance disrespectful?
Disrespectful? Well, it depends on who you ask. All cultures view the dance through their traditions. Nevertheless, it seems the majority of people find it respectful and joyful.
As a result, more and more families are paying for the coffin dancers’ services. This is why the funeral is more often than not being called a “Celebration of Life” these days. Families want to send their loved ones off in style.
Above all, the family has the choice of employing or utilizing dancing pallbearers or any other send-off they may want.
Can I get one of those coffin dancer hats?
Yes, you can buy a coffin dancer hat. They’re available right here.
Do the dancing pallbearers ever drop the casket?
Yikes! Yes, they do! Just take a look…
This was a hard video to watch. You can tell the pallbearers are in anguish over what just happened.
Funeral dances have a spiritual meaning behind them. They bring people together to grieve. Funeral dances do this by celebrating the deceased’s life through dancing in their honor. This is because, conversely, these dancers share joy instead of sadness.
You have turned my mourning
into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning
and clothed me with joy.
So, yes, we can find joy even as we grieve and remember our most treasured loved ones.
Read next: 20 Hilarious Funeral Humor Memes