Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Harlem Shake: What IS it?

First was the Twist in the 1960’s. Then we got the Macarena in the 1990’s.  The Dougie was popular in recent years and soon after came Gangnam Style which just officially got stale. Why? Because The Harlem Shake is here.
But that begs the question: what IS the Harlem Shake? Aside from being something completely non-productive and slightly amusing- it’s the newest internet video craze. If you are making a video right now in an attempt to be hip, you are too late. There are already hundreds if not thousands of versions out there, and you are late to the online party.

To do the Harlem Shake requires years of practice. By years of practice, I mean you have to be able to have acted like a complete neurotic fool at any given moment. The dance begins in a setting of one’s choosing (locker rooms, class rooms, work places, homes, etc.)  as one person dances with an item on their head ( a mask, helmet, scarf, hat, etc.) to Baauer's “Harlem Shake” while the rest of the people occupying the room carry on in normal, every-day fashion. It starts out as controlled movement to the beat. Then about fifteen seconds in the beat drops and everyone goes from normal to completely ridiculous.

The most notable version of the “Shake” came from Susquehanna University, a Division III school that does have a football program. Eleven players made a video of the new trend in the weight room. Once the school found out about how their student-athletes were using their facilities, all elven were kicked off the team. One player kicked off the team, Logan Skillman, pointed out on Twitter, "There are much worse things that go unpunished at every school every day." He is correct, but I can’t fault the school for acting how they deemed appropriate.

There is no “one way” to dance to it. You just move your body to the beat however you choose. That is the beauty of it: just let loose and have fun. There is no silly hand gesture (I’m looking at you, Psy) and the beat is quite catchy. You don’t need to understand the words. You just….dance like no one is watching.

Some may view this as a regression in society and the killing of many brain cells. Others see it as mindless entertainment that kills a minute at work and just makes you go, “what the-“? Either way, its gained steam and for now is here until something else comes along.

By the time you read this, the trend will have already gotten on your nerves and stale, since EVERYONE is doing it. That’s how we treat trends these days: we milk them out really fast and then after a week we don’t want to even hear a word about them. Today it’s the Harlem Shake, and tomorrow it will be something far more - well for lack of a better word, “idiotic”. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, though. 


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