Step aside Gangnam Style, it’s time for the Harlem Shake

Alex Masters

Over the last few days a crazy new viral trend has been spreading across the web and it’s starting to bubble up to the surface as all good internet memes do. This latest craze is known as the Harlem Shake and features several people dancing to the first 30 seconds of Baauer’s ‘trap and bass’ track of the same name. This is not to be confused with the genuine ‘Harlem Shake’ dance move.

The Harlem Shake meme originated with this short video clip uploaded about a week ago, which features three young men in fancy dress dancing frantically to the song.

A response video was posted by the Sunny Coast Skate Company, which set the template for the many thousands of new versions that followed.

There are already more than 12,000 different versions of the video across the internet, each one more crazy than the last, including a hilarious version filmed underwater, which I’ve embedded below.

Even the likes of Google and Facebook have created their own unique takes on the viral trend, with Google performing a version outside of their Mountain View campus in California, amongst the many Android statues that decorate their front lawn.

There seems to be no end to the scope of this meme, as news anchors, football teams, page 3 girls, and even armed forces are getting in on the action.

Each video starts with a single masked dancer gyrating around in the middle of a normal everyday scene, such as an office space or college lecture, preempting the mayhem that follows once the Harlem Shake track kicks in.

Despite its simple premise, the ‘rules’ for creating the perfect ‘Harlem Shake’ video are very specific. Rather than trying to sum up all the ingredients of a perfect Harlem Shake video, the best way to understand is to just watch a few for yourself. You’ll soon get the idea!

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  • Peter Mulligan

    I think you’re mistaking the ‘Harlem shake’ dance with the ‘Harlem shake’ meme. Do you happen to work for GIRLS LOWRIDER & STREETLOW magazine? Also, cars bounce up… they fall down.

  • anon
  • mgumn

    Crystal meth, It’s one hell of a drug…

  • Michèle Brach

    dance crazes are fine by me- at least they are harmless. However, I came across one that is far more fun and inspiring to watch (and do?) called AZONTO from Ghana. So, why not YOUTUBE that one and look out for the Antenna tune (+ competition) and people from all over world ( Africa to Europe!) doing their creative take on that!!! It entertained me for at least a week.

  • Michèle Brach


  • Laars

    “Spontaneity”?? The whole thing has to be choreographed – sit still while we film this, move while we film this. It isn’t a one-off event, it’s groups of people trying to be on trend by doing what everyone else has done. It’s up there with cats make the funniest faces – once is funny, the copies are forced.

  • Alex Masters

    What I mean by that is that in most of the videos people are jumping about dancing and acting a fool in a spontaneous fashion.They’re just meant as a bit of fun, plenty of people seem to enjoy them.

  • Laars

    Yep, they do. But maybe it would be more interesting or revealing to work out why so many people have the need/desire to copy everyone else? In years gone by it was uniqueness which was trendy (the more obscure the band, the better). Now there’s seems a desperate need to be part of a viral trend – which is actually less viral and more coordinated. As soon as a daily newspaper picks it up, it has really jumped the shark. How long before Bruce Forsyth is doing it?

  • Alex Masters

    I’d say in this case it is more about taking part, rather than copying. Trends have always come and gone, manifested in different forms. Whether it’s fashion, music, jokes, toys etc. Businesses have always tried to associate themselves with trends for promotional purposes, but I don’t think people feel a desperate need to take part, they just want to. It’s just that the internet enables to see everyone who is taking part, a lot faster than in the past.

    I hope Bruce Forsyth does do it. He’s always up for a laugh, because that’s exactly what this is, a laugh.

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