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Get to Know Your Meme: The Harlem Shake


When my editor told me that my next post was going to be about the latest sensational internet meme – the Harlem Shake – I stared blankly at my screen. I had never heard of it but don’t get me wrong, I was excited to find out what this new meme was that had escaped my detection. She sent me a YouTube video to watch of the Harlem Shake, and let’s just say, I was left speechless. My first question was, WHERE DO PEOPLE COME UP WITH THESE THINGS?!?!?! I set out to discover the origins of the Harlem Shake. Come with me as we journey and adventure through Wikipedia and other random sites followed by an array of “breath-taking” Harlem Shake videos….

The Harlem Shake is a dance that was originally called the albee and was created in 1981. It was allegedly started in Harlem by an alcoholic named “Al B,” hence the name albee. Al B described the dance as, “a drunken shake anyway, its an alcoholic shake, but its fantastic, everybody appreciates it.” Although Al B claims the fame, the Harlem Shake is actually based on an Ethiopian dance called the Eskista.

The Harlem Shake meme basically consists of satirical videos parodying the Harlem Shake dance set to the tune of New-York based musician Baauer’s song “Harlem Shake.” The videos usually start off with a masked man doing the dance by himself while surrounded by people who are indifferent to him, before cutting to the scene where everyone joins in and are doing the dance themselves. The dances include the “Bernie, twerking, and krumping.”

Even though Al B started the dance in 1981, the Harlem Shake became mainstream when it was featured in G-Dep’s music video, “Let’s Get It” in 2001. Okay, so you’re probably wondering, well how did it become the latest meme? Supposedly, on January 30th, 2013, Gam3xpert uploaded a video to Youtube featuring DizastaMusic’s Filthy Frank dancing to Baauer’s song. This same video was uploaded by TheSunnyCoastSkate and PHL on NAN, which went viral prompting other parodies to pop up all over the internet!

So, there you have it. The 411 on the Harlem Shake meme. Okay, now for the best part. I give you…videos!

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