What is The Harlem Shake? That depends on whether you’re talking about the Harlem Shake dance, the Harlem Shake song, or the Harlem Shake video — by either Al B, Albee, Baauer, Bauer, Bauuer, or the Russian Army. And, the infectious internet meme doesn’t get any less complicated from there. But since the original Sunlight Harlem Shake, it has gone viral on YouTube (or uTube if you prefer) at breathtaking speed.
The dance, a creation of a Harlem resident named Al B, began way back in 1981. For his part, Al B says the dance comes from the ancient Egyptians, and that it’s what the mummies used to do. The dance has appeared in a variety of music videos, but there’s a catch.
The dance in the internet sensation isn’t the original Harlem Shake. Shaking your head yet?
Which brings us to the song, The Harlem Shake, by DJ and producer Baauer. It contains the usual sampling, riffs, bleeps, and blips the typical dance song has these days. A video was commissioned for the song, but never released. Then a group from Queensland, Australia called The Sunny Coast Skate uploaded their version of a YouTube video featuring the song, and that’s when things really exploded.
Even though only thirty to forty seconds of the song is used in each version of a Harlem Shake video. So, your head should be beginning to shake now, right?
The gist of the phenomenon is that, in the meme, one person is dancing while the rest of the group remains still. Then, suddenly, everyone breaks out in frantic, shaking gyrations. And everyone’s doing it. From sports teams to TV shows to senior communities — at the rate of thousands of versions being posted every day.
The video meme also happened at light speed. The original Queensland version was posted February 2nd. Since then, at least 40,000 versions have been uploaded totalling 175 million views.
Head shaking frantically now?
Among the notables appearing in uploaded versions of The Harlem Shake include the aforementioned Russian Army, the staff of the Jimmy Fallon show, the Dallas Mavericks, Jeff Gordon, Steven Colbert, and yes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
So, now you know what’s shakin’ regarding the internet’s latest craze. No word yet as to a version from the staff of The Internet Patrol. We’ll keep you posted.
After you watch the below video (you know you want to), please tell us what *your* favourite version of the Harlem Shake is..video links cheerfully accepted.
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