The “Harlem Shake” now refers to two different things - the actual Harlem Shake was a dance that was closely tied to the history and culture of the neighborhood Harlem in New York and the internet phenomena that started in February 2013. Unfortunately, most people are only familiar with the latter.
Diving into a little history, the Harlem Shake was started in the 80s by Albert Leopold Boyce. He used to perform is as part of the half-time show at basketball games. It came to be known as ‘The Al B’. It was simple dance routine that involved pivoting the shoulders while popping the other shoulder out at the same time. Popular dance crews in the neighbourhood adopted it and it reached its peak in 2001 when it was featured in P.Diddy and Jadakiss songs.
However, the song reemerged as a youtube craze when in February 2013 Bauer released his song the Harlem Shake. What came as a result was a series of videos that started with an indirvidual dancing alone and 30 seconds into the video erupted into a giant party. The video took the internet like wildfire. Here is the original video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8vJiSSAMNWw
The video amassed 300,00 views in the first 24 hours and caused many more parodies to emerge. Universities across america, sports teams, cops, you name it everyone had their very own rendition of the ‘Harlem Shake’.
When asked about the video, Harlem residents pointed out that viral videos had no relation to the originial Harlem Shake and found it disrespectful to their culture.