The History of the Slav Squat

The History of the Slav Squat

by Kiril Tsanov

There are people in this world–no, not yogis or superheroes–who can defy gravity and have upended the laws of physics. Please meet the Slav Squatters, world champions of enigmatic chilling who can sit for hours without needing a chair, a bench, or a stoop. These “not a care in the world” acrobats radiate the ethereal aura of inner peace defining a particular brand of Eastern European nonchalance.

The Slav Squat pose has even become a global sensation and the source of endless internet memes. But there's more to the Squat than just being a contorted way of sitting. Get your knees ready and welcome to the fascinating universe of Slav Squatting: its history, significance, and the surprising health benefits of relaxing like a Gopnik. Grab a vodka–or several–and learn how to join the Slav Squat Army.

Table of Contents

  • 01

    Introduction: What is the Slav Squat?

  • 02

    Origins of the Slav Squat: Exploring its Roots

  • 03

    The Slav Squat in Popular Culture: The Rise of the Slav Squat Meme

  • 04

    Mastering the Slav Squat: Technique and Benefits

  • 05

    Symbolic Meaning of the Slav Squat: Beyond Just a Pose

  • 06

    Who and What is a Gopnik? The Slav Squat’s Sketchier Cultural Cousin

  • 07

    The Uncanny Link Between Squatting Slavs and Gas Masks

Introduction: What is the Slav Squat? 

What exactly qualifies as a true Slav Squat? The pillar of this position is being able to achieve an enviable low stance, heels firmly planted on the ground, and a gravity-satisfying sense of balance to produce an indescribable sense of carefree bliss. The Slav Squat is about basic comfort–the tippy-toe squats at the gym do NOT qualify.

An experienced Slav Squatter has thighs parallel (or close to parallel) to the ground and knees comfortably wide apart. Imagine a comfy armchair tilted backward–that’s the general vibe.

Why is The Slav Squat Meme Important?

In today’s online universe, the Slav Squat and the endless stream of memes the phenomenon has produced, has come to define how the world perceives people of Slavic descent. Type the word "Slav" into the Google search bar and images these days, and images of young men wearing Adidas tracksuits, squatting appears, with the ground they are on littered with spit out sunflower seeds and smoked cigarette butts (another stereotype, but hey, we can't win 'em all).

Although this is admittedly amusing, is it a good thing that the image and global perception of Slavs is a squatting Gopnik? Da.

Origins of the Slav Squat: Exploring its Roots

3 Gopniks (Image courtesy of Facebook / Squatting Slavs in Tracksuits)

The true origins of the Slav Squat–like the secrets of the universe–are shrouded in a delightful mix of folklore, fact and pure speculation. Some whisper of a long-forgotten squatting cult in the steppes of Kyivan Rus', their thighs of iron forged from years of low-slung contemplation–a history that dates back to the 9th Century.

Did a Lack of Public Benches Create the Slav Squat?

Pinpointing an exact year for the Slav Squat's birth has been compared to nailing Jell-O to a wall–an impossibility. However, experts on the subject believe that the phenomenon was created during the heyday of the Soviet Union and its satellite states in Eastern Europe known as the Warsaw Pact.

The grand scheme of socialist projects and centralized planning overlooked a basic staple of city life: public seating. Parks and other places where people gathered were missing benches. Endless stretches of avenues and recreational real estate had no place where people could sit (there was, however, always an overabundance of party propaganda posters plastered everywhere).

In this landscape, the Slav Squat would have offered a practical solution–a way to rest weary legs, share cigarettes with comrades, obscure the dreariness of communist life with a bottle or two, and contemplate the finer points of Marxist theory, all without the need for pesky benches funded by the ever-suspicious capitalist world.

The lack-of-benches theory has its skeptics, though. Yugoslavia, a socialist federation known for its relative prosperity and, one would presume, a decent supply of park furniture, was full of Slav Squatters.

Whether or not the world-renowned and beloved Slav Squat emerged from this crucible of necessity, it emerged as a testament to human ingenuity and the ability to find comfort in the most unexpected places.

The Slav Squat in Popular Culture: The Rise of the Slav Squat Meme

The trajectory and progression of the Squatting Slav meme (Image courtesy of Google Trends)

The Slav Squat's journey from cultural quirk to internet sensation is a story born in the digital age. While its exact origins remain delightfully fuzzy, pinpointing the moment it became a full-fledged meme is a bit clearer.

Around 2012, an obscure imageboard that was a notorious breeding ground for internet trends began buzzing with images of young Eastern Europeans clad in Adidas tracksuits (a stereotype unto itself!) casually squatting in doorways, bus stops, or even random street corners, and the term "Squatting Slavs” was born.

These photos, often accompanied by humorous captions poking fun at cultural stereotypes of post-Soviet life, tickled the internet's funny bone. 

The Slav Squat Meme Was Born

The Slav Squat meme quickly spread beyond the confines of the imageboard, finding new life on social media platforms like Reddit and Twitter.

The image of the casually squatting Slavs resonated with internet users worldwide. Perhaps it was the undeniable coolness of the odd pose, the relatable act of chilling in defiance of social norms, or simply the absurdity of squatting in such unexpected places. The Slav Squat meme went viral and became a global phenomenon.

The meme's infectious nature wasn't limited merely to text and images. It spilled over into the realm of video, with compilations of squatting Slavs racking up millions of views on YouTube. And like any proper internet sensation, it rewrote traditional definitions. The squatting Eastern Europeans became an identifying symbol for Slavs everywhere.

Mastering the Slav Squat: Techniques and Benefits

Image courtesy of the Strand
How To Properly Slav Squat?
Squatting like a true Slav takes some training. The stance looks simple enough to mimic, but it's much harder than you think, especially mastering the biggest challenge: maintaining the squat. This is where flexibility comes in handy, but practice is the difference between maintaining a squat and falling embarrassingly backwards. 

The process of the stance is simple:

  1. Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward. 
  2. Now, imagine you're trying to crack a walnut with your heels–push your hips back and bend your knees, lowering yourself down towards the ground. 
  3. Remember, the goal is flat feet! If your heels stubbornly refuse to cooperate, don't force it. 
  4. Once you've achieved that low-and-mighty position, keep your back straight and core engaged. 
  5. Relax your shoulders, take a deep breath, and enjoy a squatting like a Slav.
  6. Practice, perfect, and practice some more.

Tip: Warm up your knees, and don't try to do this right after a long chair-sitting session.

Once you get more advanced and comfortable, you can progress further by adding a pair of Adidas striped tracksuits and shoes. A proper Slav wardrobe is a must.

Health Benefits of the Slav Squat

Beyond being able to inconspicuously blend into a dangerous East European neighborhood and look like you belong, there are actual health benefits to the Slav Squat. They include:

  • Improved Ankle Mobility:  Deep squats condition and strenghen your ankles to reach a full range of motion, which can be especially helpful for those whose days are spent chained to a desk.  Increased ankle mobility can also improve balance and coordination, reducing your risk of those embarrassing (and potentially painful) tumbles.
  • Boosts Hip and Knee Strength:  Holding a deep squat position engages multiple muscle groups in your legs, particularly your quads, hamstrings, and calves.  Over time, this can lead to stronger more stable hips and knees, which is great for everyday activities and can even help prevent common injuries.
  • Core Engagement Powerhouse:  Don't underestimate the core strength required to maintain a good Slav Squat.  That flat back and engaged midsection are a testament to the isometric workout your core is getting.  A strong core is essential for good posture, back health, and overall physical stability.
  • Flexibility Friend: Regular squatting can help improve your overall flexibility, making you feel looser and more limber.  This can benefit your posture, and athletic performance, and even reduce the aches and pains of daily life.

So, the next time you see a group of people chilling in a low crouch, don't dismiss them.  They might just be reaping the hidden health benefits of the Slav Squat, all while looking effortlessly cool.  Who knows, maybe you'll even be tempted to join them? Just remember to loosen up those ankles first, comrade.

Symbolic Meaning of the Slav Squat: Beyond Just a Pose

The internet’s embrace of the Slav Squat goes beyond mere meme amusement. For a new generation, it’s become a symbol layered with cultural meaning. Here's why:

Identity and Camaraderie:  In a world increasingly dominated by digital connections and remote communications, the Slav Squat offers a unique way for young people, especially those of Eastern European descent, to express their identity and connect with others online.  Sharing memes and squatting photos becomes a virtual handshake, a way to signal belonging to a shared cultural understanding.

Pop Culture Currency:  The squat transcends national borders, uniting fans of Slavic music, movies, and video games. It's a way to wear your fandom on your heels.  By striking the pose, you're not just chilling, you're aligning yourself with a specific cultural sphere and the artists and trends within it.

The internet thrives on viral imitation. We see something funny, cool, or weird online, and our instinct is to recreate it and forward the link onward. The Slav Squat, with its undeniable coolness factor and inherent silliness, is ripe for this kind of playful imitation.  

Younger people are particularly adept at picking up on these trends, and the Slav Squat offers a fun, low-effort way to participate in the digital zeitgeist.

Who and What is a Gopnik? The Slav Squat’s Cultural (Sketchier) Cousin

Squatting Gopniks (Image courtesy of Pinterest)

If you wonder about the meaning of the word Gopnik, the journey of the squatting Slavs brings us face-to-face with their slightly more colorful cousin. According to the internet's favorite encyclopedia (because who needs fancy libraries when you have Wikipedia, right comrades?), a Gopnik is a young man (or a surprisingly cool young lady) who is also a slightly delinquent.

Is every Slav Squatter is a Gopnik? Let’s break it down: A Gopnik  is a term used to describe a particular breed of young man (or woman–a Gopnitsa) from the former Soviet bloc. 

But there's a certain edge to the Gopnik persona.

While the Slav Squat is all about casual coolness, the Gopnik leans more towards possibly being a hoodlum with a hint of menace.  There’s always a pack of cigarettes involved, vodka, and a cryptic fondness for squatting in doorways late at night. The Gopnik message is "don't mess with me, comrade!"

The Gopnik isn't the average schoolyard bully. He's the embodiment of that rebellious spirit, one laced with anger, that simmers just beneath the surface in some teenagers. He's the kid who skips class to hang out with his crew, blasting Eurodance music from a beat-up Lada (because who needs fancy Western cars, right?)

The Uncanny Link Between Squatting Slavs and Gas Masks

The internet, in its infinite wisdom (and occasional strangeness), has woven another bizarre thread into the tapestry of the Slav Squat phenomenon: the mysterious connection between squatting Slavs and gas masks.

The genesis of this gas mask-wearing Slav phenomenon likely stems from a potent mix of pop culture influences and the internet's love of mashups.  

Tip: Jokes aside, if you want to prepare for a real SHTF apocalypse scenario, then you also need some relevant knowledge besides looking the part.

The Post-Apocalypse Connection to Squatting Slavs and Gopniks

Imagine this: you see a meme featuring a Slav Squatter, but instead of the usual Adidas and tracksuit combo, he’s decked out in post-apocalyptic gear, complete with a gas mask and maybe some scavenged weaponry.  The irony comes from someone sitting in a position that personifies a relaxed and stress-freel demeanor existing in the harsh realities of a post-apocalyptic world.

Survival Video Game Meme Development

The rise of popular survival video games set in post-apocalyptic Eastern Europe has further fueled the Slav Squat and gas mask connection.  Games like Metro and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. transport players to desolate landscapes of Soviet architecture and imagery.

These games often feature characters clad in makeshift tactical and protective gear, gas masks a common sight, struggling to survive in a harsh and unforgiving world. It’s no surprise that gamers began to see a connection between these gritty post-apocalyptic characters and the internet's favorite squatters from Eastern Europe. 

Fan art, memes, and even cosplay emerged, depicting Slavs or Gopniks rocking gas masks and wielding makeshift weapons, their signature squatting pose now a symbol of post-apocalyptic resilience.

Note: If you want to cosplay as a Gopnik or a gas mask-wearing Squatting Slav, PLEASE never use old surplus military gas masks, as they might have dangerous chemicals (like asbestos) inside their filters.

If you want to complete your authentic Gopnik look, then you should wear a real, high-quality gas mask that not only looks the part but will also protect you in the post-apocalypse wasteland from radiation and harmful gasses or chemicals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do Squatting Slavs Wear Addidas?
What is the Post Apocalypse Connection to this Meme?
Are squatting Slavs Connected with Apartment Squatters?