The Harlem Shake dance using music from DJ Baauer might be the new Gangnam Style viral hit for 2013. Unlike Gangnam Style there are no specific dance moves, but most dancers perform crotch thrusts, waves their arms up and down, or stand on their hands.
Videos of people doing the Harlem Shake dance have already racked up tens of millions of views on YouTube and other media outlets. According to the Daily Mail, the Harlem Shake phenomenon has been around since the 1980s, but it was this recent meme which has catapulted it into mainstream culture across the world.
Knowyourmeme.com explains how you go about doing the Harlem Shake:
“The Harlem Shake is a style of dance that involves pivoting the shoulder out while popping the other shoulder out at the same time.”
The Harlem Shake videos also tend to follow two other details. At the beginning, only one person is dancing. Anyone else in the room is either standing still or simply not paying attention to the masked dancing. When the bass drops, everyone else joins in on the dancing, usually accompanied by costumes and/or props.
The recent Harlem Shake trend was probably started on January 30 when a YouTube video blogger named Filthy Frank posted “DO THE HARLEM SHAKE” which shows four people dressed in latex suits dancing to DJ Baauer’s Harlem Shake. Now everyone is adding their crazy twist to the phenomenon, with people in strange mixes of costumes gyrating and crotch-thrusting to the beat. So many different versions of the Harlem Shake have been posted that it’s possible when they’re all combined they’re already surpassed the record set by Gangnam Style.
According to ABC, the Harlem Shake can trace its roots back to 1981 in Harlem, New York with an Ethiopian dance called “Eskista.” They’ve compiled a list of some of the most “interesting” variants of the Harlem Shake:
- Playboy has its own official version featuring the Playboy Playmates (work safe).
- The Harlem Shake recently scared TV news anchor Anderson Cooper when his staff broke out into the move during a staff meeting.
- The University of Georgia’s men’s swim and dive team do it underwater.
- The Maker Studios staff does it in an enviable office environment.
- College Humor does it while that one guy over on the side is enjoying his coffee.
- Portuguese TV does it awkwardly.
- Firefighters do it heroically.
- Duo Matt and Kim do it at RPI Field House in Troy, New York.
- Bananas do it absurdly.
What do you think about the Harlem Shake trend? Something that will last or an annoying, short-lived trend?
— Baratunde (@baratunde) February 13, 2013