The “Harlem Shake” flails to the top

Junior Josh Moore and his friends practice dancing the Harlem Shake for a video. “I mean everyone is doing it, so why shouldn’t we,” Moore said.

Fikrea Tesema

Junior Josh Moore and his friends practice dancing the Harlem Shake for a video. “I mean everyone is doing it, so why shouldn’t we,” Moore said.

In the beginning of 2013, the major dance fad that had everyone moving was PSY’s Gangnam Style song. Now, the new form of takeover is here, because the Harlem Shake has arrived.

The song “Harlem Shake” created by American DJ Harry ‘Baauer’ Rodrigues was released on May 22, 2012. The song became viral when five Australian teenagers dancing feverishly in a room put their performance on YouTube. “I can see why it is popular. The song really gets you pumped up,” senior Michelle Orabueze said.

Ever since then, the dance has gained popularity with people from all over the world. The “Harlem Shake” has been replicated by the Norwegian army, the TV show The Simpsons, Georgia State students, Wells Fargo employees in Buckhead and many more.

The dance really caught the attention of television media when a flash mob on Flight 157 did the “Harlem Shake” and caused safety concerns with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Planned by a Colorado ultimate Frisbee team, the dance had every passenger dancing and jumping on the plane.

Though the FAA saw it as all in good fun, it was made clear that other instance of dancing on the planes wouldn’t be tolerated. “A commercial airplane in flight … is not a dance hall, it’s not an entertainment stage, it’s not any of those things,” Jim Tilmon, a retired airline pilot featured on CNN said.

The dance itself is typically shorter than a minute. It begins with one person dancing around while those around the main dancer seem like they don’t notice. Then, after about 15 seconds into the song, the beat drops and everyone begins to dance and flail around.To some students at Decatur, the “Harlem Shake” is just another form of expression.

“You just do whatever you want when the beat drops. It’s so fun,” sophomore Keshia Sullivan said.

The older dance fad by the same name was actually created in 1981 by a Harlem resident known by the name Al B. The dance gained mainstream attention in 2001 when hip hop artist Trevell Gerald Coleman featured the dance in his song “Let’s Get It”.

Some argue that the original “Harlem Shake” dance is better than the new flash mob style dance of 2013. “You can’t get better than the original,” senior Chelsie Allen said. “I don’t really even know why they call it the Harlem Shake considering no one actually does the “Harlem Shake” in the dance.”

For now, the dance is continuing to gain attention and stardom on YouTube with over 5,500,000 views on the “Harlem Shake” dance of Flight 157 alone. Yet the knowledge that its 15 minutes of fame will end is understood by some. “I doubt it will last longer than Gangnam Style,” Orabueze said.


Go to Decatur Patch to see the Harlem Shake dance fad in Atlanta.

To see a montage of the Harlem Shake dances click here.