The Harlem Shake

I can’t get over a new dance meme. I can’t help but laugh every time I watch one.

What’s the Harlem Shake? This sucker has exploded on You-Tube within days!

Well, it took a lot of research into both music and dance to figure out where it all came from.

The original Harlem Shake was in 1981. It was inspired by a dance in Ethiopia:

The dance requires a lot of shoulder movement (and dancing as if you were a mummy):

Despite its recent surge in popularity, the Harlem Shake, characterized by lots o’ shoulder movement and shaking the upper torso around, is not a new dance craze. The dance was in fact invented over 30 years ago in 1981 by an alcoholic nicknamed “Al B.” The Shake was originally called the Albee after its inventor.

(I wish I could find a copy of the ’81 Albee but so far no luck, but I did find this…)

Later, in 2001 a group named ‘G Dep’ released a video that featured the Albee/Harlem Shake.

In the current era, the Harlem Shake has taken on it’s own meme status after:

1. Baauer (a DJ from New York), created a Trap Remix of the original song.

2. DizastaMusic made a crazy/silly video to the remix:

But the meme took another turn. It stayed with Baauer’s remix, but for only 30 seconds. The new format is this:

  • One person dancing in one spot, often in a helmet
  • Said dancer is in a room of other people involved in a perceived mundane life
  • When the bass drops and the lyrics announce “Do the Harlem Shake”, everything changes…
  • Everyone in the room has now changed costume and doing individually different wacky movements
  • Often there are more people involved in the transition portion
  • The song hits a moment that sounds like a growl and the video often goes into slo-motion then ends

Within days there have been many, many video remixes of the formula. Ready for a tour?

Perhaps the first video to follow the new format was this one:

A Norwegian Army version:

A Club version:

An office version:

Another office version:


A fire-fighter version:

A puppy version:

An underwater version:

A cartoon version:

A Star Wars version:

A finger/puppet version:

A Charlie Brown version:

And the Arrested Development version that your’s truly made:

However, there’s been some resistance:

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