‘Harlem Shake’ unexpectedly shakes up mass hysteria on Internet

Steven Walker, ’Doah Staff Writer
February 20, 2013

'Doah photo courtesy of Steven Walker

‘Doah photo courtesy of Steven Walker

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few days, you have probably seen the term “Harlem Shake” floating around Facebook and Twitter. In roughly two weeks a new YouTube phenomenon has taken the world by storm: the “Harlem Shake.”
This video craze — that lasts all of 30 seconds — involves bizarre dance moves and outlandish costume selections, and has made musical artist Baauer quite popular, or has it? Baauer’s song, “Harlem Shake” has been around for almost a year, yet who had actually heard it until now?

From college classrooms to athletic teams, dorm rooms to offices, “Harlem Shake” has people jumping aboard and becoming a part of “internet history.” Even our own Shenandoah University has become a part of the madness with several videos that have gained popularity throughout the Winchester community.

These videos usually start out with a masked individual, or in numerous cases a strange being of some sort, dancing amongst a group of normally-behaved people going about their business. In a matter of seconds, the beat drops and a crazed group of untamed inhabitants flood the screen, dancing as if they learned to do so from those obnoxious blow-up figures you pass on the road. These videos would have the Ringling Brothers ecstatic with all the potential employment they put on display.

Reportedly as many as 4,000 videos have been uploaded in a single day, and in two weeks more than 12,000 videos have been created, generating more than 44 million total views. This video whim makes last year’s “Call Me Maybe” parodies look like child’s play. From amused to confused it has people asking, “Where did all these videos come from?”

The other question on everybody’s mind is, “Who started this Harlem Shake video idea in the first place?” The credit goes to YouTube member “Filthy Frank,” a 19-year-old communications student from New York whose YouTube channel is quite popular. He explains the genesis of his “Harlem Shake” video stating, “I was in a room with a few people playing Baauer’s song. As soon as the drop of the song came, we just started going crazy. We thought, well, we could turn this into something good.” And as we all have seen, a video of essentially nothing more than mass hysteria with no noticeable choreography is pretty well liked by all.

What’s even more ironic about this trend is that there is an actual dance called the Harlem Shake that at no point appears in these videos. Originating in Harlem, N.Y. in 1981, the original dance was made popular by hip-hop artists in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

What began with Psy’s “Gangnam Style” continues on with “Harlem Shake.” One can only guess what will be next. That is the great thing about our world today. Despite all of our differences, we still occasionally come together to share a laugh, thanks to our easily entertained minds.

1 reply »

  1. I am now not sure where you are getting your information, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or figuring out more. Thanks for great info I was in search of this info for my mission.


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