What Does the African Anteater Ritual Involve?

The African anteater ritual is a dance from the 1987 movie "Can't Buy Me Love." In it, Patrick Dempsey's character Ronald Miller performs the moves at a high school dance.

The film revolves around the premise that Ronald Miller, a geek, pays head cheerleader Cindy Mancini to pretend to be his girlfriend for a month. During that time, they attend a school dance. Miller learns a set of moves he thought was featured on the popular show "American Bandstand." The dance turns out to be the African anteater ritual shown on the "African Cultural Hour." In actuality, this ritual is not a real ceremony; it is only part of the movie.

At the dance, Miller joins the group on the dance floor. He performs a mambo step side-to-side, pauses, raises his arms at a 90-degree angle and flaps them quickly like a bird. During that time, his head is banging up and down. He then performs another mambo step and does a dance step commonly called the monkey; he bends at the waist and undulates his torso while alternating banging his arms up and down as if hitting a drum. Because Miller has earned some social credibility through his past "relationship" with Mancini, the attendees at the dance believe the African anteater ritual is a real dance move. As such, they join Miller and his date in performing the dance.

The moves of the dance are actually comprised of dance steps from an earlier generation: the mambo, the funky chicken and the monkey.