By Shelley Foo
It begins with one lone person dancing in the park. The music starts off slow but quickly picks up. Then comes the familiar “And do the Harlem Shake!” At the sound of the bass drop, a crowd of students clad in eccentric costumes dance wildly in the park. Some do cartwheels; others make up their own moves. Who would watch this? Ask the nearly 18,000 viewers who checked out our school’s version of the Harlem Shake on YouTube.
The Harlem Shake is a popular Internet meme, a phenomenon that swiftly sweeps the Internet, in the form of a thirty second video. It usually consists of one person dancing alone for the first fifteen seconds to American electronic musician Baauer’s 2012 song “Harlem Shake.” He is surrounded by other people who are unaware of the individual.
However, when the beat picks up and when the bass drops, the video cuts to an entire mob of people dressed in strange outfits dancing and convulsing. This trend was originally started by five teenagers in Queensland, Australia in early February, but it did not take long for it to become viral.
After some compromising, senior class president Ahmed Abdelqader and American Cancer Society’s Eric Wilson agreed to organize the BTHS Harlem Shake. Because the Relay for Life Kickoff conflicted with the Harlem Shake event, the deal was that the date of the Harlem Shake would be moved if Abdelqader and Wilson, who was involved in the Relay for Life event, planned, executed, and edited the Harlem Shake video. After the conditions were established, everything was set and ready to go.
“It took less than a week to organize it,” says Abdelqader. “We had enough people. We only needed a good fifty, but at least a hundred arrived and perhaps thirty or forty in full costume.”
Not only does the entire student body have their own Harlem Shake, but the boys’ track team does, too. This video has almost as many views, a whopping 12,000 and counting. It entails what seems to be a normal day of practice, but halfway through watching it, cuts to the team dancing madly and flailing with their shirts off. One member of the team, junior Victor Valle, even carried another member on his shoulders while dancing.
“It was cool to see it from the beginning to end and how quickly it spread,” noted Valle. “Why I do it? It looked like fun and easy to do. All you need is a camera and people to dance with… Wednesday we came with the idea, Thursday we did it, Friday it was up.”
The Harlem Shake has also earned the respect of many teachers such as physical education teacher and student activity coordinator Matthew Torres.
“I think that the Harlem Shake is a cute way of people coming together just to be silly,” mentions Torres. “Considering that we all spend our day in a pretty work intensive place it is nice to see students have some fun; especially with all the different versions that have come out on YouTube.”
Other schools, such as Bronx Science and Stuyvesant High School, have also participated in this trend and uploaded their videos to YouTube. The fad continues to grow, urging people of all ages to get in on the craze. Not only is the Harlem Shake fun but it is also a great way to relieve stress. The best part is that it only takes thirty seconds to make the magic happen.