With user submitted videos of people doing the dance having gone viral, Jaideep Deo Bhanj takes a look at what all the fuss is about
Move over Gangnam Style The Harlem Shake is here! The dance has been making waves online since the first video was uploaded on February 2 by five teenagers from Australia known on YouTube as The Sunny Coast Skate. Unlike other dance videos that have created ripples, this is different as people film and upload their own version of the dance.
What is the Harlem Shake?
The Harlem Shake is a 30-second Internet meme video that follows a particular format. The first 14-seconds of the clip has a person either wearing a mask or a helmet dancing to a song called The Halrem Shake by DJ Baauer while the rest of the people in the frame go about doing their own work. Then the beat drops for a few seconds and is back with a more powerful bass sound with a group of dancers going crazy. Watch out for individual acts in the mayhem that can leave you in splits. Dancers dress in outrageous costumes and shake wildly as there are no planned steps.
What is a meme?
An Internet meme is a concept that spreads from person to person via the Internet. With the help of social networking sites, blogs and video sharing sites a meme can spread like wildfire within a few hours or days of its release. According to statistics released on the official YouTube blog in the first nine days alone, over 12,000 versions of The Harlem Shake meme had been uploaded gathering 44 million views. With an average of over 4,000 new variations being added each day, the numbers have only been escalating ever since.
The track by DJ Baauer was released in August 2012 but had not created an impact. Post the video going viral the song topped not only the iTunes chart but also made it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Companies like Pepsi and Redbull, famous sports teams, office staff, students and soldiers to name a few have uploaded their very own videos. Harlem Shake videos in a number of editions have come up. Some of the editions are Indian edition, desi edition, marriage edition, office edition, airline edition, grandma edition, The Simpsons version etc. The list is endless and one can spend hours on YouTube going through the 30-second videos. Like with all user-submitted content on the net some of the videos are clean fun but there are a few that are explicit.
Rahat Raj Sud a research executive says, “The Harlem Shake empowers anyone and everyone to lose their inhibition and freely display their wild side, fully backed by friends with a common goal of getting more number of views.” The craze, though not as popular as in the west, is slowly catching on in India.
The videos are simple to produce as they need only a single fixed camera and simple editing skills. YouTube in acknowledgement of the growing trend made its website shake every time someone typed ‘do the harlem shake’ on its search bar. However, not all are amused by the growing popularity of the meme. Namrata Sinha, a social worker feels that the videos are pointless and those uploading videos are just doing it for 30 seconds of fame. “There is absolutely no originality in the dance moves. I hope the trend will be on its way out soon. It is sad that such a thing has become a part of our popular culture,” she says.
The Harlem Shake has also become popular on the streets of Egypt where young Egyptians are using the dance as a form of protest. According to the Associated Press about 400 young men did the Harlem Shake while chanting for the departure of Islamist Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi outside the Muslim Brotherhood's main office in the Egyptian capital.
In Australia a group of miners lost their job for uploading a video of them doing the dance at work. The fad has moved from being a frivolous online video to having real life implications.
How long the meme will last before it fades we can only wait and watch but for now go shoot your own video.