Harlem Shake videos bombard Internet

Jerry Cortez

8d7b9cac-8e0d-4a56-bc1a-5b30c205c4db-HARLEMSHAKE(February 28, 2013) — The video opened with a strange contrast. As sophomore Joshua Valerio prepared various metal parts alongside other members of the school robotics team, a tense rhythm began playing in the background. Senior Alex Deravanessian donned a welding mask and jumped to the beat as the music built up. After fifteen seconds, the quickening music reached a crescendo: a sound clip saying “Then do the Harlem Shake.” The video immediately cut to the team members dancing out of control, flailing limbs and power tools alike. After another 15 seconds, the video closed as abruptly as it began.

“Harlem Shake v696,” a video created by Clark’s robotics team, is one of hundreds of thousands of similar videos that have taken the Internet by storm over the past few weeks. Known as the Harlem Shake, this dance video phenomenon arose in early February and has been rising in popularity ever since. According to a YouTube Trends analysis, YouTube users uploaded approximately 4,000 new Harlem Shake videos each day during the second week of February alone. Office workers, swim teams, military units and seniors in retirement homes have all created Harlem Shake videos, amassing a total of 44 million views in a week. Regardless of the group producing the video, a typical Harlem Shake video opens with a single masked individual dancing among a group before cutting to footage of the entire group dancing violently. These videos feature the first 30 seconds of “Harlem Shake,” a track released by electronic dance music producer Baauer early last year. However, neither the video trend nor the music track should be confused with the actual Harlem Shake dance, which involves quickly rotating one’s shoulders in opposite directions.

30-second long Harlem Shake videos have caught the eyes of millions on the Internet, including junior Simon Alparaz. Alparaz first saw Harlem Shake videos appearing on Reddit, a social news website, around the beginning of February. “The contrast between the first and second scenes was definitely a surprise,” Alparaz said. “But that’s exactly what makes these videos fun to watch! You can never guess just how crazy the second half [of the video] will get.”

The worst dancers have the privilege of being the best Harlem Shakers.”

— Joshua Valerio

Sophomore Varty Yahjian, who also discovered Harlem Shake videos through Reddit, immediately saw their entertainment value. “I spent half an hour watching these 30-second videos,” Yahjian said. “I can definitely see [the trend] going somewhere. I saw the robotics version and now I think the whole school should do it.”

Clark’s robotics team released its version of the Harlem Shake Feb. 14. Valerio, who helped set up the video, said he approves greatly of the Harlem Shake. “It’s fun to watch and easy for anyone to make,” Valerio said. Deravanessian and other robotics team members set up the stage and filmed both scenes in under 40 minutes. “This dance lets people do what they want without any pressure to dance well, since it’s all about being silly,” Valerio said. “That’s the best part about this whole thing. The worst dancers have the privilege of being the best Harlem Shakers.”

Click here to view Harlem Shake v696.