Harlem Shake history


Dance Harlem Shake

example picture of “Harlem Shake” moment


By now everybody has heard of the newest Internet meme called the „Harlem Shake“.

For those of you who by some chance don’t know what it is, it’s a very silly and simple dance where one individual in a group starts dancing; usually by doing the humping style sort-of dance, or pivoting one shoulder out while popping the other one out at the same time.
At the beginning, that one individual is the only one dancing, while the rest of the group is standing still. As soon as the bass drops, the camera shot changes, and suddenly the entire crowd appears in weird costumes and they go ape shit, flailing their arms, jumping up and down and doing all kind of crazy stuff.
The weirder and wilder they do it, the better effect the dance gets.

Harlem Shake craze was started on January 30th, when YouTube video blogger named Filthy Frank posted a video “DO THE HARLEM SHAKE”, where four people dressed in latex suits started dancing do DJ’s Baauer’s “Harlem shake” song (which was released nine months earlier, but remained fairly unpopular up until early February when the craze started).

Now, the most popular aspect of the trend; the sudden change in camera shot when the bass drops, was introduced in the TheSunnyCoastSkate’s video posted on February 2nd, which then became the basic prototype on how to do the “Harlem Shake”. However this is not the first time the Harlem Shake has been done.
Harlem shake, or “albee”, is a dance that started in Harlem in 1981. It became popular in 2001, after G. Dep featured the dance in his music video “Let’s Get It”.

Although the now modern version does emulate in some way the essence of what Harlem Shake is about, it does so in a very simplistic way. Let me explain. The dance was introduced by a man called “Al B” (hence the name “albee”). Old “Al B” was an alcoholic, so his dancing was nothing more but a drunken shake anyway. He said it came from Ancient Egypt, emulating mummies. Since they were wrapped, shaking is all they could do. However, since then, Harlem Shake evolved. It began emulating an old Ethiopian dance called the Eskista.

Over time, it became a part of African-American culture. It also became more than just a drunken dance it once was. The original Harlem Shake is done like this.

It was that same dance that DJ Baauer was referring to in his song. Some could say that because of that and Filthy Frank, the classic Harlem Shake would appear to be stolen. But then again, some could say that they put it on the map. Now ask yourself, how many people knew about the Harlem shake before the start of the month? Yeah I’m sure all the hip-hop dancers knew it, and maybe some other people, but other than them, not many of us did.

And much like in hip-hop, this meme was done by a now very well known and simple formula:

You take something old, mix it with something different or new, and you got yourself a brand new style. So in this case, the old New York dance was mixed with a camera shot change seen in this video where some Norway men were trying to increase tourism in their country by naked-humping…
I guess the street. Needless to say, it didn’t work.

Here’s the video.

Now that we’ve taken a look at the history and origin of the harlem shake dance, let’s take a look at the success rate of the meme. By now, you’ve already realized that Harlem Shake spread like wild fire. In the first nine day alone, over 11,000 versions of the meme had been uploaded, gathering 44 million views, averaging over 4,000 new variations each day.




2 Responses to “Harlem Shake History”

  1. Crazy man that Al B!

  2. aleixs martinez says:



  1. Interview in Harlem about Harlem Shake videos - Harlem Shake Original | Harlem Shake Original - [...] That’s just a few thoughts of Harlem Shake by people from Harlem. Watch the rest below… [...]

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