Viral Video: Harlem Shake

Move over Gangnam Style. In the past week, a dance phenomena called the Harlem Shake has been spreading like wildfire over the internet and television media. When I first heard the name “Harlem Shake,” I immediately though of the days when rappers would dance in their own videos… I wondered if the dance that originated in Harlem in the 80s and saw a comeback in the early 2000s was experiencing another resurgence in popularity. The answer is no. This Harlem Shake is very different from the Harlem Shake of yesteryear. Some people at Deadspin are not too happy about it, however this Harlem Shake is the new norm.

NOT Harlem Shake

So, what exactly is this reincarnated version of the Harlem Shake? I will happily break it down for you.

  1. Start playing the song Harlem Shake by Baauer.
  2. There must be one person (preferably wearing something to cover their head like a helmet or mask) dancing in the middle of a crowed room (or underwater if you can handle it) with absolutely no one paying him or her attention.
  3. When the bass drops, there must be an abrupt cut to the entire room erupting in a seemingly spontaneous dance party.
  4. All of this must happen in about 30 seconds.

Note: Some dancers should preferably be twerking and doing the Bernie, however anything goes. The more ridiculous the better.

Put all of these things together and you have yourself a Harlem Shake video! As you can see, it is very simple. There is no need for ANY choreography whatsoever and you don’t even need to be a good dancer. In fact, the video apparently seems better if there are people who are not trying to dance and instead are flailing their arms or thrusting their hips…

I must say that when I first saw a Harlem Shake video, I didn’t particularly like it. I thought to myself “What is this $%*?” However as I watched a few more videos, it grew on me and now I can’t stop watching. According to YouTube, as of February 11th, around 12,000 “Harlem Shake” videos had been posted and watched upwards of 44 million times. An astounding 4,000 of these videos were being uploaded per day. A mere four days later on February 15, YouTube released that there are at least 40,000 Harlem Shake videos that have been watched over 175 million times.   

That being said, a few online journalists have declared that the dance has become too commercialized and is now becoming worn-out. I am not quite sure if I agree completely however there are many Harlem Shake videos that are pretty indistinguishable. Unless they are doing something incredible, they are starting to look the same to me. However there are still a few that are pretty original and out of the thousands of videos that have been posted, these are my top three you may have missed. The first is the Peanuts version, complete with Snoopy dancing on the piano, the second is an absolutely adorable father and son, and the third the Harlem Shake on a elevator. Enjoy!