Air Guitar: A Pure Art

Air Guitar: A Pure Art

When you were a kid you probably once tried to imitate strumming an invisible guitar, mimicking how rock artists you saw on MTV strummed theirs. If you were to do it now, as an adult, you’d probably be embarrassed about it, thinking that you’re no rock star. But for many dancers, this move is a legitimate dance. And there’s even a competition for it. Welcome to the world of Air Guitar.

Basically, Air Guitar is a dance move that requires the performer to imitate strumming a guitar. Performers add other dance moves to the performance, sometimes even go as far as making exaggerated picking motions that can be seen from iconic rock bands. While such a performance sounds ridiculous (the Air Guitar World Championships website does admit that air guitaring is “previously a hobby to be pursued at home alone in front of the mirror or behind closed bedroom doors”), it is now a full-blown dance movement with its own world competition, the Air Guitar World Championships, and is enjoyed by thousands of people from around the world. Zac Monro is quoted on the website saying: “It’s impossible to be angry and play air guitar. Air guitar is the last pure art form.”

Pure Art

Air guitar is described as a performance that purely expresses the performer’s thought, but it isn’t without rules and different styles. In the World Championships’ website, there are listed four schools to air guitar:

  1. Airtistic Airdeology

    This is described as having a “philosophical approach” when it comes to the dance. It describes the performer as “letting himself/herself go with the flow.” Since a song or music accompanies the performance, the performer usually follows the rhythm of the song. In this school, however, it tells the performer to follow what he feels right instead.

  2. Pure Air Rock ‘N’ Roll

    This school takes a more technical approach to the dance. The goal of this school is to look as real as possible. This means actually knowing how to position your fingers for each pick or strum you do. Your attitude and performance must give an air of authenticity and to look like an actual rock star as much as possible.

  3. Air Extravaganza

    The point of this school is to look as exaggerated as possible. It is described as having a connection to glam rock, and “requires charisma and stage presence.” The dance has to attract a lot of attention to the performer has to be a show-off.

  4. Futur D’Air

    The avant-garde of air guitar, this school combines air guitar with other elements that aren’t related to rock music. What this means is that you can have an unlimited number of elements to add to your air guitar performance. However, as with all art movements, purists tend to hate the avant-garde, saying it corrupts the art form. Performers of this school should watch out from alienating their audience.


air guitar logo

There are several contests and championships for performing air guitar. Two of the oldest championships are the UK Air Guitar Championship since 1994, and the Air Guitar World Championships since 1996. Apart from that, there are other national championships from several countries: Japan, Australia, the United States, Canada, Denmark, and Germany. Apart from these countries, there’s also a list of former nations such as Belguim, Russia, and France.

If you’re looking for a different kind of performance art you’d probably want to try air guitar yourself. A unique blend of self-expression and childish abandon, air guitar looks fun and wild, just like the real rock and roll. As one commenter of the AGWC puts it: “It’s so stupid, yet so great.”

1st Image: The trailer from the Air Guitar World Championship, via Youtube.

2nd Image: The logo for the UK Air Guitar Championship, via their website.

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