First viral video of 2013: The Harlem Shake

It’s called the Harlem Shake and as with all viral videos, viewers are usually left scratching their heads trying to figure out what it was that they’ve just seen.

The 30-second video is formulaic – a lone, masked dancer gyrates amidst a few disinterested people. Halfway through the video, the music ratchets up a notch and suddenly the screen is filled with crazy revellers.

The original video was published on February 2 and has already garnered 3.7-million views.

It was devised by a group of teenaged longboarders from Australia’s Sunshine Coast, who were looking for something to do during a rainy spell.

The Harlem Shake is actually a dance, dating back to the early 2000s. But it rarely features in the videos currently doing the rounds.
It takes its name from the backing music, which is by Brooklyn-based dance music producer Baauer.

There are now scores of copycat versions featuring firefighters, an endearing father-son duo, the staff of entertainment website IGN, and rapper T Pain.

The fad picked up locally in recent days after a Cape Town based advertising agency the Jupiter Drawing Room made a version and dared its competitors to “out-shake” them.

Of course, the M&G Online had to have its own take.

Who says teambuilding costs money?

Now for the inevitable backlash. Oh wait, it’s already here.

Faranaaz Parker

Faranaaz Parker

Faranaaz Parker is a reporter for the Mail & Guardian. She writes on everything from pop science to public health, and believes South Africa needs carbon taxes and more raging feminists. When she isn't instagramming pictures of her toddler or obsessively checking her Twitter, she plays third-person shooters on Xbox Live. Read more from Faranaaz Parker

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