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Earthquake in Harlem – everything shakes!

Calm down! There is no need to call the emergency service but I warn you that your whole office might start dancing to a catchy beat. What am I talking about? Others who are honest followers of the video-sharing website youtube
It’s the Harlem Shake.

But what the Harlem is that?

The so called “Harlem Shake” is a dance originating in Harlem in 1981. The self-purported inventor of the dance was “Al B“, a Harlem resident. He explained in 2003 that the Harlem Shake was “a drunken state, it’s an alcoholic shake, but it’s fantastic, everybody loves it and everybody appreciates it.” (
It is a uncoordinated mix of waving arms and swinging hips to no rhythm. Everything is decorated with movements of sexual acts on a sudden impulse.

In the last few weeks a special youtube video went around the globe. Four guys in costumes of an alien, a power-ranger, a sumo wrestler and simply an asian in a pink body suite dancing uncontrolled in their bedroom.
Everything is accompanied by a catchy bass-driven song from the artist “baauer“, the dance-like “Harlem shake”.


At the moment several videos appear on youtube already know. from people covering the original video.
The course of action is always the same. A normal situation e.g. a day in the office starts with someone literally marching to a different tune, the track in the background. Oddly enough nobody seems to care and continue their business.
You hear the remarkable part of the lyrics “And do the Harlem Shake” followed by a deep bass tone. The scene cuts instantly into a mind-blowing …uhm… I call it party, like the University of Bayreuth (Germany) did.

University Bayreuth Cover:

But what makes everybody shake half-naked
through their office?

I guess it’s just another form of getting out of the day-to-day life. The viral video is an explanation and a good reason to do something crazy without getting weird looks. (you will get weird looks anyway)
It’s a team thing and is just fun to do or watch other people doing it. It’s like Psy‘sGangnam Style” last year. The korean artist and his strange dancing behaviour were rewarded with the most watched video on youtube of all time.

Even notable institutions like the norwegian army or german firefighters couldn’t resist the Harlem Shake.
The latter used their video even for marketing purposes
“The “Harlem Shake” conquered the internet and attracts many young people – so do us! It invites to imitate so we created our very own version of the “Harlem Shake” to get young people interested in firefighting. We see this as an opportunity to depart traditional ways and with the help of the new media be able to engage new comrades.” (Firefighters Ahrensburg).

The internet meme

After less than a month the viral “Harlem Shake” made it into local newspapers around the world presenting partying people in nearly every situation.
If something like that in the internet happens and a hugh amount of people doing covers of that, it has become a meme.
Even washing machines do it now…


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