News / USA

Harlem Shake Craze Draws Fans Worldwide

A YouTube dance phenomenon called the Harlem Shake is drawing a huge Internet audience in the United States and abroad.

In the past two weeks, thousands of people have posted short videos of themselves and their friends doing moves to a previously little-known electronic track by a New York DJ.

Most of the videos follow a basic formula that has been easy to replicate for fans around the world, including in Washington.

Jordin's Paradise, a local dance and fitness studio, organized a Harlem Shake flash mob in Dupont Circle Park this week, using Facebook to spread the word.

As a speaker blared the first 30 seconds of the song by New York-based DJ Baauer, two people dressed as penguins started to dance, with a studio cameraman filming them from a distance. At first, the park visitors near the penguins appeared to be oblivious to what was going on. But when the beat started, dozens of them jumped into the camera shot, transforming the once normal scene into dance-filled chaos.

Rita, a teenage participant, said she was excited about appearing in a Harlem Shake video. "I think the song is really catchy, and since Gangnam Style was a difficult [dance] for everyone to get [used to], this is really simple. So, even if you can't really dance, just do whatever, and it's awesome," said Rita.

Australian initiative

In early February, five Australian teenagers from the state of Queensland were among the first to post a Harlem Shake dance on YouTube.

The Sunny Coast Skate Crew created a video style that many others later immitated, starting with a masked dancer who is ignored by those around him, until a vocal sample says 'Then do the Harlem Shake,' and everyone else in the scene suddenly appears to be joining in.

YouTube says tens of thousands of versions of the dance have been uploaded this month, generating more than 175 million views.

Top-ranked videos

The most popular iterations feature a U.S. swim and diving team at the University of Georgia, a group of Norwegian army officers, U.S. media company Maker Studios and an American comedian named Filthy Frank.

DJ Baauer, who released Harlem Shake last year to little fanfare, has seen sales of the song skyrocket on iTunes since it became the music of choice for the viral videos. His record company also gets a share of the revenue from YouTube ads shown before the video clips.

American indie rock duo Matt & Kim produced a version that attracted seven million views in a week. While on tour in New York state, they chose a concert hall as their venue and easily persuaded more than 5,000 fans to be their back-up dancers.

Vocalist Matt Johnson told VOA via Skype that the energy of the dancers is what appear to be drawing the viewers.

"As far as I know, nobody has really done it with as many people as we have. There's just a certain energy that you get from watching the 30 seconds of this. I think people really have found that enjoyable and sent it all around."

Dance overkill?

Cynics say the flood of immitation videos that have appeared online eventually will make people tire of the Harlem Shake and lead to its demise.

Johnson said he is surprised the craze has lasted this long.

"That's the nature of these Internet memes [concepts], that they can be so large so quickly," he said. "It's not like it can be maintained.  Everything is about doing it right then and moving forward. And there's something fun and very 2013 about that."

Jordin's Paradise director Rania Jaziri hopes the fad will endure.  

"People need to be able to dance and not care about any choreography and just have fun and come together, instead of being stuck behind a computer," she said.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid