How to dance harlem shake

The song that inspired the 'Harlem Shake' turns 10 years old

People in costumes perform the Harlem Shake Dance in Szczecin, Poland on March 9, 2013.

Marcin Bielecki/EPA/Shutterstock

CNN  — 

The song that swept the nation during 2013 has just reached its 10th birthday.

“Harlem Shake” was released by Harry Rodrigues, a producer and DJ professionally known as Baauer, on May 22, 2012. The name of the song was inspired by a line from Philadelphia rapper Plastic Little’s “Miller Time,” which was itself a reference to a dance move made popular in the 1980s in Harlem.

In early 2013, a group of Australians released a video credited with shaping the format of the dance craze: One person, surrounded by seemingly oblivious bystanders, dances solo to the song for 15 seconds, often pelvic thrusting or otherwise dancing with repetitive, jerky movements. Then the beat drops, and everyone joins in with bizarre, flailing dance moves and sometimes elaborate costumes or other variations on the trend.

What the "Harlem shake" has to do with Harlem

The trend quickly took over the internet, with groups like the Miami Heat, English National Ballet, and even a squadron of the Norwegian Army all releasing their own “Harlem Shake” videos. American indie rock duo Matt & Kim won a Guinness World Record for largest-ever “Harlem Shake” after they brought together a crowd of 3,344 to dance to the song.

“Harlem Shake turns 10 today. It feels like such a simpler time,” wrote Rodrigues in an Instagram post marking the anniversary.

“I remember when it first became a meme it felt out of my control and I didn’t like it … Now I have 10 years perspective I see that it brought people together and made people happy, which is the best thing I could ask my music to do.”

‎The Harlem Shake Dance Video Game Top


You've seen people doing it, your friends have done it and even you may have done it. But now you're going to play it!

The Helmet Guy and his friends are doing the best Harlem Shake video ever, but all this shaking is knocking down everything they have! Don't let the weird toys ruin your shake!

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Ratings and Reviews

39 Ratings

Hard to nderstand

We liked it but it s hard to understand

Its funny

I love it

I don't get it

What's the point?!?!?! I don't get it!!! It is soooo boring!!! I don't think it should be in the App Store

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What is the Harlem Shake and why is it not just a joke - Look At Me

An Internet meme with simple movements in a difficult context

It took Internet folklore just a couple of months to find a replacement for the boring Gangnam Style dance. The name of the new phenomenon is the Harlem Shake, and at first glance this is a story worthy of nothing but a couple of minutes of laughter, but it is high time to take it for granted that nothing in the modern world can do without a real or imagined second bottom. Look At Me understands the history of the meme and tries to understand what it all means.

Text: Oleg Baranov

On February 2, 2013, Japanese video blogger Filthy Frank posted the same video on YouTube. It features four Australian students in bizarre, colorful costumes dancing to a short snippet of Harlem Shake by Brooklyn-based producer Baauer, a client of Mad Decent and not the least of modern trap EDM. Well, what would it seem. A lot of things: in two weeks, the original video alone was viewed more than 10 million times, how many accounts for all existing parodies - it's hard to imagine, but they say something like 200 million.

The mentioned parodies - allowing you to consider the Harlem Shake as a meme - slightly transformed the original idea. The action in them takes place to the same music, but it is dictated by a clear scenario - at first, out of all those present in the frame, only one person dances (and looks strange), and after the phrase “Do the Harlem shake” and the accompanying drop, dance (and look strange) everyone starts, and these same “all” due to one mounting gluing becomes - as a rule - several times more.

Videos have been viewed more than 10 million times, parodies are hard to imagine, but they say something like 200 million

Alom B is a typical city dweller for the time and place. In 2003, the album Thug Paradise 2.1 by Plastic Little was released, it contains the song Miller Time, and in it the phrase "Do the Harlem shake". The last one is the end of the real story about how one of the members of Plastic Little got into a serious fight for the first time and, having won, danced the Harlem Shake. In 2012, Baauer used a sample from Miller Time on a guess what track. And then there were videos. What does the last link - the YouTube meme - have to do with Al B's original dance? Of course, none.

Baauer - Harlem Shake

Dancing in numerous viral videos is a simple illustration of what happens if you ask the average computer user to do something wild to the music. Shake your head, wave your arms, pretend to fuck something inflatable or, more often, imaginary. The next question is how this is connected with the author of the music, with Baauer, that is. At first, it was not connected in any way - his track was just playing in the room of the guys with a video camera. Now Bauuer gets money for almost every view of every "harlemshake", and the track itself is in the top three iTunes on both sides of the ocean. And his success (you can’t call it otherwise) is, in general, a matter of chance. Viral marketing that started and works on its own. It works, and in a rather unusual way. So, a few days ago it turned out that Baauer and Azealia Banks worked together on a remix of Harlem Shake, over which Banks read several of her own verses, and, frankly, the author of the composition did not like them. This did not stop the rapper and the result can already be seen on the network. It is quite difficult to perceive this clip after watching hundreds of short humoresques on the same topic, but here the original soundtrack is at least assigned a role that does not rhyme with the word "fun".

As for the really popular component of the Harlem Shake phenomenon, then, perhaps, it is worth recognizing that it has very little in common with music in the usual sense. More - with the sphere of modern technologies and in general with life. The spreading mechanics of the new dance meme is similar to that of jokes about the Chukchi. But the essence of this intersection is not only in a playful distortion of a successful form, but (and to a greater extent, perhaps) also in the formation of stereotypes about a particular area that correspond to the spirit of the times. Say the word "Harlem" ten years ago, and even a month ago - you will meet ideas about this area as the epicenter of the "black" danger, a place where they can kill for a sidelong glance. In fact, this, of course, is an exaggeration, and the film New Jack City is, frankly, not a CNN report. But what has been associated with Harlem in the past few days and will definitely not leave the mind for some time is a thing cleaner than Russian bears. Norwegian soldiers, American swimmers and a lot, a lot of office workers - that's Harlem on the Internet.

Look At Me Editors' Choice Best Harlem Shake Videos

And one more, especially relevant, video

Let's go back to 2012 for a while: all of the above plus Nikita Dzhigurda dance the trendy Gangnam Style dance. We will not go into its details, we will only say that he and Harlem Shake are not very similarly named (and in a sense glorify geographical objects), but they are also supposedly two parts of one film or, better to say, a game. In the first - one character, high quality of the original, imitators of all stripes and a world triumph. In the second - a lot of heroes (and all of them are the main ones), a much more experimental approach (but in compliance with the genre), ease of reproduction. We dare to note that to dance Gangnam Style means to cross a rather serious psychological barrier, for Harlem Shake you only need a good company (and not always).

To dance Gangnam Style means to cross a rather serious psychological barrier, Harlem Shake only needs a good company

another plane, the plane of carnal intoxication. Whether a phenomenon involving hundreds of millions of people can be called underground is a big question, but from the point of view of production technologies, the Harlem Shake falls into this category - and grows without leaving it. And his deliberate animality can repel, but it's much easier to be fascinated by it. Thinking for a long time whether you like it all or not is like doubting at the age of six whether it is worth riding down a hill on a cardboard.

From the context of funny videos, it is worth returning to the context of music in order to understand why Harlem Shake is a story that is not only interesting, but also useful. The explosion of Baauer's popularity is most notable for the fact that although it was not planned, but in the totality of details it can be included in textbooks, or at least in all sorts of inspirational books for modern musicians. A young and moderately talented guy followed the well-known path of gradual development and until February he was forced to mainly entertain clubs for a thousand people. Now, in this sense, anything can happen, and the potential of Baauer is certainly not lower than the potential of PSY a year ago - adjusted, of course, for the genre. Only PSY and his team worked long and hard to produce their “meme of the millennium”, and the simple Brooklyn guy Baauer sat at home, composed a track a day just to fill his hand, and look what happened.

- How to dance the Harlem Shake?

Before the wave of parodies and insanity on gang style subsided, a new Internet meme appeared on the horizon. Meet: Harlem Shake , Harlem Shake , or simply Harlem Shake !

Harlem Shake is actually a popular style of hip hop dance and the title of an instrumental track by music producer Baauer. At the same time, do not confuse what you will see below with the original dance style. At the beginning of February 2013 at YouTube a video appeared, which is considered the starting point of mass hysteria.

Here is a little history about the first video and the most popular videos in the Harlem Shake style.

What is the essence of the Harlem Shake dance?

Similar videos begin with a person in a mask or headdress dancing for the first 15 seconds, while the other characters in the video are busy with their daily activities. After that, there is a change in the musical mood and all people begin to dance and perform the most unimaginable, ridiculous, wild and chaotic movements. The duration of the video is approximately 30 seconds, which, perhaps, can explain the high growth in the popularity of such videos. In addition, in the second half of the video, people are dressed in crazy outfits or appear almost naked in front of the camera.

The simplicity of the concept gives fans a lot of room to create their own distinctive variations while retaining the essential elements. Two people are enough to create the simplest video, while a crowded stadium can work on a more complex version.

When did it all start?

It all started on February 2, 2013, when five Australian teenagers from Queensland uploaded their video. According to them, they simply did not know what to do with themselves in cloudy weather, and decided to film their pastime on video under an excerpt from the single Harlem Shake .

Learn more