‘Harlem Shake’ takes the nation – and JCU – by storm

February 28th, 2013

Whether it’s supermodels Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn, the Peanuts Gang or John Carroll’s own students, they’re all on target with the latest trend in pop culture – the “Harlem Shake,” by unknown artist Baauer. In a time where these trends have a rather short-lived popularity, this latest craze seems to be taking viral to a new level.

Now, a bigger question has arisen: Is the new Harlem Shake craze related to Harlem and its famous dance move at all? The answer is no.

In the majority of the parody videos, especially that of popular YouTube account, Filthy Frank, we see plenty of thrusting and dancers “dry humping air,” according to a Harlem resident. Another said, “I feel like they’re disrespecting us,” in an interview by Schlepp Films.

Also, in the interview with Harlem residents, they all denied it was the actual Harlem Shake, with an expression of confusion on their faces. Freshman Michael Hurley who coordinated one of JCU’s renditions of the Harlem Shake saw these interviews and said it was never their intention to hurt anyone’s feelings, and it was all done in good fun.

You could get onto YouTube and see model Jourdan Dunn’s, opinion about the real Harlem Shake. She made it known backstage at the recent Burberry show at London Fashion Week, “that it’s all in the shoulders” and it’s not the “rubbish” (mimicking a thrusting gesture) that we see in Filthy Frank’s video.

So, if there’s all of this fuss about the new portrayal of the cultural dance, known as the Harlem Shake, then what exactly is it? In a recent article by The Daily Dot, the origin of the dance (not the song) is revealed. The dance move origniated in 1981 by a Harlem resident, Al B. In the same article, Al B described its background, saying it was “a drunken state, it’s an alcoholic shake, but it’s fantastic; everybody loved it, and everybody appreciates it.”

For the time between the dance’s origin in 1981 and the rather different “Harlem Shake” now, the dance found itself in many music videos throughout the years by Eve, Nelly and Kelly Rowland.

Freshman Michael Hurley’s friend introduced him to the video, inspiring him to make a JCU XC Harlem Shake video in his room in Murphy Hall. According to Hurley, there were approximately 13 people in his video, with the designated dancer being his resident assistant, sophomore Dave Schillero.

“Just a couple days ago I saw the ‘Harlem reacts to the Harlem Shake,’ and I felt terrible. We were kind of disrespecting Harlem, and it’s not really the real Harlem Shake.” – Freshman Michael Hurley