The Harlem Shake is a fairly simple social or Solo dance. It is mainly done with the torso and shoulders, shaking, popping, shimmying, but occasionally other body parts can get involved (Legs/Arms). It is highly improvisational and rhythmic. It is a take-off of the Eskista / Esketa which is a traditional dance from Ethiopia (North-East African or Abyssinian) which can be routinely seen on TV in their country. The Eskista migrated its way to Harlem New York in the early 1980's.
A local man to the area by the name of AL B. (aka Sisqo) is responsible for bringing this dance to the forefront of Harlem culture. Al B. would be asked by locals to do the dance and named it after him, they called it the "Albee" in 1981 when he was widely seen at the Rucker Park basketball games so the dance became briefly known as the 'albee' in his honour. In an interview he states: "It's a drunken shake anyway, it's an alcoholic shake, but it's fantastic, everybody loves it and everybody appreciates it."
In 1994 a rapper by the name of G-Dep, along with P-Diddy got wind of the dance and featured it in his music video called "Let's Get It (clip)." By 2001 on youtube, the dance was taking off. Since then it has gained momentum over the years and started going Viral on You-Tube with Bauuer's Harlem Shake EDM song (EDM = Electronic Dance Music songs) released on August 23rd, 2012. Since February, The "Billboard top 100" has
been including You-Tube music video hits / Popularity in it's ratings, making Bauuer's the number one song on its charts. Gangnam style by Psy was not included do to the date of its release when Billboard started adding Y/T to its data base. In February 2013, Bauuer's song and the Video by Y/T Comedian Filthy Frank went Viral and spawned a series of dance copycat videos that begin with a masked individual dancing alone in a group before suddenly cutting to a wild dance party featuring the entire group.
This lead to an abundance of you-tube videos being made, most of them are ridiculous in nature, being stupid costumes, corny movements, somewhat poking fun at itself and the ones dancing it, seemingly pushing the envelope on the original video release. It seems as tho the more ridiculous the costume (diapers, Super Hero, Super Mario Bros, Crazy looking Wigs, dancing on furniture etc) and movements are the key. However, they are having a lot of fun playing with it, each trying to out do the other videos online in craziness, and that's what counts in this You-tube form of the dance.
By the second week of February 2013, more than 4,000 “Harlem Shake” videos were uploaded to YouTube each day, according to YouTube’s official trend report. By the 13th of February, approximately 12,000 “Harlem Shake” videos had been posted, gaining more than 44 million views. A now somewhat older You-Tube top ten video of the Harlem shake is on the right in this clip. Hopefully this trend along with Billboards inclusion will allow more "fair-use", rather than blocking you-tube's videos made by it's fans, might even change a few copyright laws for the better by realizing the publics use can potentially make them rich, even if they have to share a bit of it with an amateur/fan.
... Click Here to see what Harlem thinks of the You-Tube versions.... One writer to the video qouted "what the heck are they doing now the harlem seizure?".