What is the Harlem Shake?

By Matthew Weston

So you’ve heard of something called “The Harlem Shake”. You’ve seen dozens of 30 second videos on YouTube starting with one person moving to the beat. The person dancing before the beat drops is usually wearing a helmet whilst the others in the video go about their daily routine. Once the beat drops, the video jump cuts and everyone is now dancing or “shaking”. The final 2 seconds are then slowed down in time with the music. How did it start? The actual Harlem shake was around many years ago.

The list of videos could go on indefinitely as there are that many out there. What we’ve noticed about the Harlem Shake is how people seem to understand it more than most other memes. Due to the simple nature of the video the template is easy to follow but it is also easy to make it their own – it’s been a huge success. If you typed into YouTube [your hometown] Harlem Shake the chances are there will be one local to you. Be careful where you carry out your Harlem Shake though – this poor librarian got the sack for allowing it to happen at a library in Oxford University. Finally if you were wondering what “¡Con los terroristas!” means, which is said at the start of the song by Baauer, then it’s literal meaning is ‘With the terrorists’ but loosely it means ‘My crew and I are about to terrorise the dance floor with our moves.’ Happy shaking!