lonely soul, usually in a mask, starts dancing alone in a room full of people with bored looks on their faces. Then the song crescendos, the beat drops, and all of a sudden everyone is dancing around ridiculously.
Videos of this new sensation — christened the "Harlem Shake" — have gone viral, and everyone from college kids to BuzzFeed have gotten down with it. Confused? Don't worry. Here's everything you need to know:
What's the song in these videos?
The track accompanying all the videos is called — ready for it? — "Harlem Shake." It's by a New York-based electronic artist named Baauer. Here's the original track:
Where did the dance come from?
According to Mashable, a video blogger called Filthy Frank came up with the general set-up — the masks, the standing around, the rough cut to everyone going nuts. This isn't the most viewed or definitive version, but it is apparently the first iteration of what has become known as the Harlem Shake, posted on Feb. 2:
Then college kids around the country apparently decided to get in on the action:
And then it started to take off:
A blog post on YouTube Trends says that as of Feb. 11, more than 12,000 variations of the Harlem Shake have been posted to the video service. Most of the cuts are really short — no more than 30 seconds.
Who else is doing it?
Once College Humor got ahold of it, the whole meme started to spiral out of control:
Then BuzzFeed did its BuzzFeed thing:
Maker Studios is widely considered one of the better ones:
Even a few folks at the presumably traditional HarperCollins are into it:
And this being the internet and all, here's the inevitable canine version:
Hold on. Isn't the Harlem Shake actually a really old dance move?
It is, you observant chronicler of pop culture, you! This modern take is a completely different thing, however. The original dance move's roots can be traced back to the early '80s and Harlem's Rucker Park. Back then, the Harlem Shake was said to have been created by a regular named Al B. "It's a drunken shake... an alcoholic shake," he told Inside Hoops. "But it's fantastic, everybody loves it." The dance itself is probably best exemplified in this 2001 video for "Let's Get It" by Diddy pal and Harlem rapper G. Dep. More specifically, the Harlem Shake is the dance done by the spazzy, Gumby-limbed little kid below:
Will The Week ever do the Harlem Shake?
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How Ukraine can fend off the Russians, in 7 simple steps
- These stunning travel photos remind us that we're all just amateurs with iPhones
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
- Israel and Russia are getting along. Have the neocons noticed?
- 10 things you need to know today: April 16, 2014
Subscribe to the Week