The Harlem Shake, like most things of its ilk on the internet, seemed to go from rare curiosity to something that was suddenly everywhere — and if you haven’t seen it, be prepared to spend the next few hours rapt in TV Tropes like thrall as the huge cache of videos obliterates your productivity.
The Harlem Shake is, much like any big internet meme, something that grabbed the collective social media consciousness all at once — Marines, celebrities, families with kids, everyone seemed to be uploading videos of this bizarre yet compelling to watch dance phenomenon.
So what is the Harlem Shake?
Good question, internet. Going back to the start, the Harlem Shake stems somewhat from the 2012 song “Harlem Shake” by Brooklyn-based rapper Baauer — but that’s not what seems to have catalyzed the meme. Con los terroristas!
It seems the Harlem Shake would have died in obscurity (or, the obscurity of simply being a song and not a meme), had it not been for five Aussie teens, under the name The Sunny Coast Skate, and their contribution to the Harlem Shake meme phenomenon.
In early February, this video was uploaded to YouTube and became an instant hit — and if you have any familiarity with broad-scale web culture, it’s pretty easy to see why.