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‘I Love to Dance’: 88-Year-Old Grandmother Goes Viral In Dance Tribute to Janet Jackson; Singer and Missy Elliot React

An 88-year-old’s nightly dance routine has taken the world by storm, captured in a viral video that’s grabbed the attention of Janet Jackson, Missy Elliot, and millions of others.

Marybelle Alston, 88, was recorded by her daughter, Nina Alston, dancing to Janet Jackson inside their Florida home on May 14.

“I love to dance. … It makes me happy,” Marybelle Alston said.

Nina Alston posted the video the same day as a deadly shooting in Buffalo, New York, grabbed headlines when ten Black people were killed inside the Tops Friendly Market in a racially motivated mass shooting.

“The reason I posted it was, that was the day of the shooting in New York, so I’m like, I want everybody to see what I see on a daily basis, even if it’s a minute long, that one minute will be a life-changer for somebody and that was my goal to accomplish and obviously I think I did my job well,” said Nina Alston.

Nina Alston tagged music icon Janet Jackson in her viral post, saying, “In the effort to getting my 88-year-old mom tired and ready for bed, she dances to your song. Good luck to me.” Jackson responded three days later with, “I luv it,” followed by a smiley face and dancing emojis.

Grammy-winning artist Missy Elliot also saw the viral post and said in a tweet, “Ayyyye okaaaay” accompanied by dancing and smiley faced emojis.

Nina Alston is tasked with caring for her mom, who suffers from dementia, and admits looking after her is challenging at times. She says she regularly turns on music videos for her mom around bedtime to help wind her down.

“This is like an ongoing thing mom does, every night before she winds down for bed, I just put music on, and I just put my search on, and Janet Jackson popped up on one of the searches I did and that’s the song I put on,” Nina said in explaining how the viral moment came together.

Nina Alston says her mother spent most of her life in Philadelphia working as a homemaker taking care of her seven children. Dancing, Philadelphia Eagles, 76ers, and Phillies were all commonplace inside the Alston household, and for Marybelle, Nina says dancing is like therapy for her mom.

Nina Alston says she never expected her video to spread so quickly, even making “Good Morning America.”

“I never expected this to be what it is now, and I was just doing it for fun to brighten people’s home with happiness and joy and here we are,” Nina Alston said of her viral video.

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