Wed | Feb 10, 2016

Do the Harlem Shake!

Published:Sunday | February 24, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Scene from LIME's Harlem Shake videoshoot.
Scene from LIME's Harlem Shake videoshoot.
Scene from LIME's Harlem Shake videoshoot.
Scene from LIME's Harlem Shake videoshoot.

Garfene Grandison, Assistant Lifestyle Coordinator

For those who might be curious about the crazy dancing outbursts that have been taking over the YouTube pages and the streets of the Corporate Area, the Outlook is here to shed some light on this global phenomenon called the Harlem Shake. This craze is an Internet meme that went viral on YouTube in February.

The meme is an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. The phenomena has taken Jamaica by storm with students and corporate Jamaica jumping on the bandwagon. Companies such as Lime and Digicel joined athletes like Usain Bolt and Warren Weir to participate in the widespread dance routine.

The art form of the meme was established in a video uploaded on February 2 by The Sunny Coast Skate featuring five teenagers from Queensland, Australia. After a while, more people including Jamaicans started to replicate the original video by uploading their own versions to YouTube, therefore Harlem Shake became what is called an Internet meme, in this case a series of similar videos re-created according to a similar concept. Each video features a part where several costumed persons danced to the song Harlem Shake by electronic musician Baauer lasting a little more than 30 seconds.

Beat changes

Usually, a video begins with one person (often helmeted or masked) dancing to the song alone for 15 seconds, surrounded by other people not paying attention or unaware of the dancing individual. When the beat changes, the video switches to the entire crowd participating in a crazy convulsive dance for the next 15 seconds. In the second half of the video, people often go half naked or put on crazy outfits or costumes while wielding strange props for that added dramatic effect.

The success of the videos was in part attributed to the anticipation of the breakout moment and short length, making them very accessible to watch. The Harlem Shake is technically very easy for fans to reproduce, as it consists of a single locked camera shot and one jump cut.

Boutique owner Kerry-Ann Clarke sought the expertise of videographer Snow as well as a few of the Rock's most fashionable personalities namely Tami Chynn, Tessanne Chin, Yendi Phillipps, Alia Orane and Lubica, to create a Harlem Shake vid of their own. The reason?

According to Clarke, "the Harlem shake is a phenomenon creating mass hysteria. We decided to film our version as a celebration of life featuring people who we work with throughout the year." She continued, "It was something fun to celebrate and honour our love for fashion."