What is Harlem Shake and why It Became so Popular

Harlem ShakeThe Harlem Shake has grown in popularity since it’s beginnings approximately a year ago. However, many people are asking what is Harlem Shake? It may appear to be an uncoordinated dance of flailing hands and torsos, but this video has been watched by hundreds of millions of people across the world. In February, a video that features five teenagers from Australia dancing around an empty room to a song called the Harlem Shake was first uploaded to the popular video-sharing site YouTube.

Since its beginnings, the video has been redone by countless other individuals and groups from the Norwegian army to the Simpsons, with each group putting their own unique spin on the dance. The strange dance moves have even been done on a plane flight, thanks to a flashmob created by a Colorado Frisbee team. What may surprise people is that this global internet phenomenon actually got its name for an intoxicated man who wandered onto a NY basketball court back in the 1980s.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hpEnLtqUDg]

Origins of the Harlem Shake

Al B was a man who died due to heart failure in 2006 after years of heavy drinking but was known in his prime for the creation of Harlem Shake dance moves. He actually used to perform is as the half-time entertainment at basketball tournaments in New York. This dance move apparently got started early in life as his mother told a NY newspaper that when Al was doing his signature dance, everyone took notice. Family friends also said that while Al enjoyed dancing at all times, he especially broke out this dance move while intoxicated. The dance was known in the Harlem area as the Al B, but before long, local teenagers began copying his signature dance moves and it became known as the Harlem Shake.

However, while the dance has existed since the 80s, it was not until recently that it came back. Five Australian teenagers who call themselves the Sunny Coast Skate created this comedy music video. In the video, one person wearing a helmet dances while the others sit in the room looking oblivious. However, as the beat drops, a voice commands the others to do the Harlem shake and suddenly the entire room is in motion, moving their shoulders wildly and gyrating in uncoordinated movements. Their funky outfits and crazy moves made them stand out on social media sites and they quickly became a highly viewed video.

After this group debuted their video, it spawned thousands of imitations and the group was amazed by the video’s success. To continue its fame, a Brooklyn DJ whose stage name is Baauer recorded the track and released it on the market. It was originally free for downloading, but then charged viewers after becoming viral. However, even with the cost of downloading, the song went to a number one spot on the Billboard charts for a number of weeks.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_XqOckAl1A]

The popularity of this video and song show no signs of stopping. The Reddit feed is thousands of redditors strong and along with sharing the many different versions that exist, they try to find out what about this craze resonates with so many people. In an unusual turn of events, one fan actually created a White House petition that asked the White House to create a Harlem Shake video that included the president. It received only 150 viewers before being removed due to a violation of the site However, this example just shows that the video is making a mark in today’s society.

What makes the Harlem Shake so ripe for parodies is that unlike other viral videos, the original video doesn’t have the feel of a professional music video. People who want to create their own don’t have to have a professional setup or even know how to dance. Also, since the song itself is instrumental, it doesn’t require cheesy lip syncing. This is part of the reason why it has been done so many times in so many locations from bedrooms, work, and even underwater. Also, with the meme only lasting 30 seconds, it doesn’t take much time to make.

So, for anyone who wonders what is Harlem Shake? It is a popular online video that got its original start in the 1980s and has recently been revitalized due to an Australian group’s remix.

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