IT’S the hip-thrusting craze that sparked an internet explosion spawning more than 40,000 spin-offs in a matter of days.
Now, the Harlem Shake – which has been seen by more than 175 million viewers – has swept the Capital and seen students, clubbers and office workers don strange costumes to flail about to Brooklyn-based producer Baauer’s dance track of the same name.
Each 30-second video begins with a single person dancing alone to the music – typically wearing a helmet or mask – while others in the frame sit idly by. When the bassline starts, the video cuts to people convulsing or thrusting suggestively en masse, often with the help of strange props.
The popularity of the phenomenon has seen Baauer’s single rocket to number one on the iTunes America chart and number two on iTunes in the UK and Australia.
So ubiquitous is the craze that rival venues across the Capital are now competing to film the biggest and most raucous version of the meme.
On Saturday night, the Picture House will launch a challenge for the crown following Why Not nightclub’s record attempt that clocked up 450 revellers.
Jay Glass, 26, Why Not general manager, said the nightspot had set the bar high for Harlem Shake-themed events.
“We pitched it for 1am and the atmosphere was electric when it kicked off,” he said. “Everyone was really co-operative and I think pretty much everyone who had come down knew about the video we were filming and wanted to be part of it. The whole thing is about having a laugh and you can see from the online videos that it brings people together. We had a few Pokemon costumes on the night.”
Medical students at Edinburgh University seem, so-far, to be flying the flag highest in the Harlem Shake stakes, ratcheting up more than 30,000 views for their madcap video published five days ago.
Ruhith Ariyapala, a third-year student from New Zealand, stars in the manic adaptation, gyrating in a Star Wars stormtrooper mask.
Alongside friends Noel Sharkey and Stanley Liew, the 21-year-old launched an online appeal for volunteers to shake and shimmy at Bristo Square.
“We didn’t expect it to turn out so big,” he said. “My only saving grace is that I’m wearing a mask – I haven’t shown by mum yet.”
Marketing director Ian McAteer, 54, donned an American football helmet and a Lion Rampant flag for the Union Agency’s reconstruction of the meme which has attracted more than 1100 views.
“I think there’s something people like about being part of something – and people like showing off,” he said. “We all have our show-off side as well. For us as an agency we like doing it and creates a good atmosphere.”
Spreading the word
THE Harlem Shake began its viral world domination in Queensland, Australia.
Five teenagers, known as the Sunny Coast Skate, uploaded a video on February 2 showing them doing the dance to Harlem Shake by Baauer.
Within days, people started to replicate the video and upload their takes to YouTube. Versions have cropped up all over the world – even at the Welsh Open Snooker where a BBC cameraman and announcer Rob Walker got in on the action.
“Internet meme” is the term used to describe copycat video films which go viral online.