‘Harlem Shake’ takes over YouTube


Going viral has been made easy by YouTube. “Gangnam Style” quickly took over as the top viewed video ever on YouTube last year. During the 2012 Summer Olympics, the Olympic Swim Team and many others created parodies to Carly Rae Jepsen’s  “Call Me Maybe” and countless sensations have surged over the Internet. Now a new trend is in town.

BYU Harlem Shake dancer body surfs over mob. (photo by Sarah Hill)

The “Harlem Shake” took YouTube by storm this month. The 30-second clip features a masked person dancing alone for the first half of the song. Then other costumed individuals join in for the dancing frenzy.

The song backing the viral phenomenon created by DJ Baauer (Henry Rodrigues) has become the No. 1 song in the country.

It seems anyone can do the “Harlem Shake” with the song, a costume and some spontaneous dance moves. Where exactly do the Harlem Shake roots lie? NPR reported:

“It’s been around for decades. Most people trace it back to a street dancer named Al B, who used to entertain the crowd at the Rucker tournament, which is a legendary basketball league in Harlem,” says Jay Smooth, Harlemite and host of the hip-hop video blog Ill Doctrine. “It was brought into the mainstream by one of my Harlem neighbors, Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs, who brought the dance into a couple videos he made with one of his artists, G Dep.”

While the original Harlem Shake originated in Harlem, Harlem residents are not quick to claim this new version of the Harlem Shake according to the NY Daily News.

The dance — which has roots going back to the 1980s — picked up popularity when Harlem rapper G-Dep released a music video with P. Diddy called “Let’s Get It” in 2001. The video featured kids doing the dance, which includes intense shoulder-shaking and, often, the tugging of a T-shirt.

In a blog post by the Huffington Post, “Four Secrets Behind the Sensation,” it points out that one of the strengths of the “Harlem Shake” is that it leaves room for a variety of interpretations and is open to creativity so that people can make it their own.

The fad has even inspired Harlem Shake videos at BYU in such places as the Wilkinson Student Center.

And in the BYU Adlab.

And even a washing machine thought it should get in on the action.

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