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The Harlem Shake reaches UWGB

Dylan Dobson, 4Play Editor
February 27, 2013
Filed under 4Play

The Harlem Shake shook up the Internet this month when a video titled “DO THE HARLEM SHAKE” was uploaded to YouTube. The video features a group of men wearing odd costumes pelvic thrusting to the now-famous track by electronic artist Baauer.

“DO THE HARLEM SHAKE,” spawned a copy-cat video titled “The Harlem Shake V1.” This video, produced by an Australian longboarding club dubbed The Sunny Coast Skate, features a group of men studying in an apartment while another man wearing a motorcycle helmet dances nonchalantly in the middle of them. The track begins to play, building up to its drop, which proclaims, “Do the Harlem Shake.”

This is where things get crazy. The video quick-cuts to find that, by the power of Baauer’s track, the whole room has erupted into bizarre madness.

Within 24 hours, “The Harlem Shake V1” spawned dozens of its own spinoff videos. These videos were especially viral in Europe, prompting a group of Norwegian soldiers to do their own homage to the track. The Norwegian Harlem Shake video was posted to popular online aggregate Reddit, where it quickly shot to the site’s front page.

The success of these videos has been extremely lucrative for Baauer, who monetized the “Harlem Shake” craze using Google’s Content ID service. Through this service, Baauer receives a portion of the ad revenue generated whenever someone views a video featuring his track online.

And that’s not all. “The Harlem Shake” entered The Billboard Hot 100 chart in position No. 1 this week. This is due to the change in Billboard policy enacted Feb. 20, which factors online streaming and YouTube hits into a track’s chart position.

The viral trend is also stirring up mixed reactions from the neighborhood for which it’s named. A video posted Feb. 18 titled “Harlem Reacts to ‘Harlem Shake’ Videos” shows locals of the area perplexed and aggravated by the dance.

“It’s just making us look bad,” said one resident in the video. “That’s not what we do.”

This is accurate. “The Harlem Shake” appropriates the name of a well-known jazz dance that was popularized in Harlem in the ‘80s. The dance features rhythmic movement of the shoulders and hands, along with a strut — a far cry from the chaotic and sexual movements displayed by the costumed participants in the Harlem Shake online trend.

UW-Green Bay has not escaped the Harlem Shake trend either. Colter Joles, freshman computer science major, filmed his own Harlem Shake video with some friends in his residence hall.

Joles uploaded the video to YouTube but still thought his friends could do better. They formed an event page on Facebook with the intent to create a larger Harlem Shake video in the Phoenix Club.

However, Joles and his friends were approached by representatives of the athletics department, who wanted to capitalize on the trend’s success.

The second UWGB Harlem Shake was held in the Kress Events Center. This Harlem Shake video was viewed by more than 5,000 people within 24 hours of being uploaded.

Joles wasn’t surprised by the success of the event and video.

“I think it blew up just because it’s fun, easy to do and really short,” he said. “People can just watch a bunch of them in under 30 seconds, which is why we did one.”