Today’s Harlem Shake is a pop dance consisting of an individual moving to the melody of the music with a group of people who appear to be spectators in the background. Then, all of a sudden, the song reaches its peak with the prompt of “Do the Harlem Shake,” and all the bystanders disregard what they were doing and begin to dance insanely, often in random masks and costumes.
Ever since the modern Harlem Shake went viral in late 2012 via a song recorded by an American DJ named Baauer, it has become a sensation all over the country, with grade school students and even professional athletes producing their own versions of the dance. However, some believe the latest edition is a weak copy of the original.
“Today’s Harlem Shake is a complete mockery of what the original Harlem Shake stood for,” says Wayne Montague, a junior at Brighton High School.
The original Harlem Shake of the early ‘80s was also known as the Albee after its creator, a Harlem resident named “Al B.” Some say it drew inspiration from an Ethiopian dance called the Eskista, which consists of a variety of body movements, head jerking, and shoulder bopping.
The Harlem Shake grew in popularity in 2001 when G. Dep offered the dance in his music video “Let’s Get It.” It died down and then was revived.
Erik Solis, 17, of Another Course to College, has no problem with updating cultural history, believing the dance has simply evolved over the course of the past decades. Although it may be far from its predecessor, Solis says it’s fun and people today enjoy it.