Meme Me: The Harlem Shake

grumpy-cat-hates-harlem-shakeA few days ago my husband tried to explain the Harlem Shake internet meme to me. He kept showing me videos that people had made and he thought it was hilarious.

I don’t get it. I don’t know if its because I’m getting old, or because I was grumpy and annoyed with the song that blares in the background of each of the videos but I just straight up didn’t get it. Then I had to try to explain it to someone else who didn’t know anything about it.

It went like this, “so basically it’s a video of a room with people doing things, then one person starts humping the air… and, uh… well, then there’s a quick cut and suddenly it’s like everyone dropped psychedelic drugs and it’s a weird dance party with masks and costumes and stuff. Yeah, I don’t know.”

So then I did some research because that’s what people like me do when we don’t understand something. Here’s what I know: it’ll be over soon, hopefully, and the next time we’ll hear or see anything about it will be in 10 years when BuzzFeed or whatever version of BuzzFeed exists then does a recap of “18 weird things people did in the 20-teens.” Hopefully that list includes when every college sports team did weird hand jive renditions of “Call Me Maybe” and Grumpy Cat hating everything, always. The shelf-life of meme’s like these is blissfully short. (Though Grumpy Cat is experiencing an unusually long stint of popularity. Probably because she’s so damned cute.)

The Harlem Shake is an actual dance move that was made popular in Harlem in the early 80’s. This is The Harlem Shake:

Which to me looks very similar to the dance of my people: sassy gay men and awkward white women drunk on fruity rum drinks. So this is a real dance that requires some measure of rhythm. This has almost nothing to do with the internet meme.

This is the ridiculously popular meme version.

There are dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of these on YouTube and various other video sharing sites, but that one has the most views on YouTube right now.

There are cat versions, office versions, news stations, swim teams doing it underwater… the list goes on.
The reason why I’m writing about it today is it reached saturation for me yesterday. A point when I could no longer ignore the trend or dismiss it. Last night some of my favorite people, my closest friends, made one of these ridiculous videos. It’s infiltrated my Facebook account and my real life. Now that everyone I know has officially done this we can put it to bed, right?

Here’s the ones my friends made, and okay, it’s cute.

And in case you need more Harlem Shake, Alaska Dispatch did a much more comprehensive write up of the Alaska versions of the craze. Read it here.

We’re done now.

(Have an internet meme or sensation that you don’t understand? Let me explain it to you. Comment below.)

Daniella Cortez

About Daniella Cortez

Entertainment editor and your gal about town. Doing my best to bring you the highs and lows of Anchorage's arts and entertainment scene.

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