Published on February 18th, 2013 | by Anthony Lyen
VIDEO: Harlem Shake Storms the Web
Video courtesy of the LewisUniversityKids YouTube channel: Lewis Students record their own version of the Harlem Shake in the 737 hanger.
Anthony Lyen, Tempo Editor
Last semester, I wrote about a colorful, energetic dance craze sweeping the nation (and the world) called “Gangnam Style” by Korean pop sensation, PSY. The song and accompanying dance were huge, creating a cultural phenomenon nobody could have predicted.
Now, Internet users and meme-enthusiasts are saying, “Gangnam who?”
In early February of this year, several videos of people doing a dance called Harlem Shake began appearing on YouTube. Only a few days later, hundreds of parody videos were being uploaded and viewed by the thousands.
The new Internet sensation has audiences laughing and swaying their hips. So who thought up of this crazy dance?
Well, this whole Harlem Shake thing is not as new as you may think.
The idea behind the dance originated all the way back in a long-forgotten time period known as the ’80s. In 1981, a man simply known as “Al B” created a dance he compared to a drunken state, saying the dance is “an alcoholic shake, but it’s fantastic; everybody loves it and everybody appreciates it.”
The dance was popular in Harlem, but pretty unknown everywhere else. It then started receiving plenty of mainstream attention once it began being performed in various music videos.
Oh, and by the way, the Harlem Shake is really a lot of arm-wiggling and shoulder-popping.
Jump to 2013, though, and the Harlem Shake has become something simpler—and bigger.
The first recorded Harlem Shake video was created by YouTuber “Filthy Frank.” The video blew up the Internet, amassing more than 4.2 million views. Suddenly, viewers were grabbing their cameras and filming this new version of the once underground dance, “The Harlem Shake.”
The videos start off simple enough. A group of people, whether it’s located in a teenager’s basement or a business office, simply do their own thing (checking cell phones, reading, going online, etc.). While all this is going on, however, one masked dancer begins to wave his or her arms and gyrate a little, all while being set to the song “Harlem Shake” by Baauer. It’s weird, it’s goofy and it’s fun.
Suddenly, mass chaos erupts once the beat drops. People are in costume, wearing masks, upside down, punching stuffed animals, flailing their arms and doing other ridiculous, nonsensical dance moves. The video then ends briefly in slow motion.
Bizarre? Kind of. Hysterical? Absolutely.
Hundreds of videos are being produced almost daily. Some major websites and companies, including College Humor and BuzzFeed, have made their own Harlem Shake videos. Television stars are taking part in the new hit dance, including Jimmy Fallon, Anderson Cooper and the cast of “The TODAY Show,” as is the band Matt & Kim.
Junior Selwyn Hansana discovered the new dance craze just as it was beginning to grow. So he grabbed his camera, called a few friends and got to work.
“I thought the videos were so goofy,” said Hansana, an air traffic control major. “The dance is funny and definitely random. I was really surprised nobody had heard of ‘The Harlem Shake’ at the time, actually.”
Hansana talked to his section-mates and some friends within the building he lives, Dorothy Day Residence Hall. Within the hour, 15 people were in Hansana’s room, dressed in bright, neon-colored shirts, sunglasses, hats and other ridiculous fashion faux pas.
Thus began Lewis’ first Harlem Shake video (separate from the above video).
“All year, I was looking for a video to parody,” Hansana said. “This one was easy to get together, and it’s easy to edit, seeing as how all the videos are only 30 seconds.”
Shortly after, Founder’s Hall residents, and the Lewis Men’s Baseball Team decided to make their own videos. Now, multiple universities are taking part in the popular dance and posting videos online as soon as possible.
Will the popularity of The Harlem Shake last as long as “Gangnam Style” has? Who knows? One thing is for sure, though: The Harlem Shake is here, and it’s only one click away.