STFU Fridays: It Ain’t No Harlem Shake

The Harlem Shake: another cultural phenomena that makes any of us with an IQ over that of a banana cringe. It’s another Gangham Style, or series of photos where people plank in weird places. It’s stupid. It’s pointless. It reeks of a culture that is easily entertained and entirely moronic.

And what’s really fun about this one is that it’s disrespectful.

A born and raised Chicagoan, I am familiar with the closeness and affection for dance a city can have. In Chicago, Blues and Jazz gave rise to an entire culture of movement in dance that – I believe – continues today. Quite frankly, it’s beautiful; and while not all people can dance well, growing up near a city such as that taught me that an expression such as dancing (done well or not) can bring people together, even in the starkest of circumstances.

I’m sure without even watching the video, then – “Harlem Reacts to the Harlem Shake” – you faithful blog followers can imagine the response from Harlem.

The Harlem Shake is an actual dance,

and it does not involve dry humping

… the air, each other, or a canon. Yes, this morning when YouTubing this new dance phenomena, I found one that started where a guy in his underpants, wearing a mask, was simply dry humping a statue of a canon. Tasteful, indeed.

So the Harlem Shake is an actual hip hop dance; and an old one, at that. It does not involve dry humping the air. It does not involve dry humping anything – it involves an actual shake. There is an actual method to it too – so much so that instructional videos have been made on how to do it. You don’t just shake and hump and strip to near-nothing. It used to be called the albee (after the guy that invented it), but was renamed the Harlem Shake, and has been featured in music videos, as well as high profile hip hop clubs.

In other words: it’s legit.

The Harlem Shake Internet meme where large groups of complete morons imitate having anal sex with each other, as well as hump the air while making a slapping motion, is not, and never will be, a version of the dance.

You people are stupider than we all thought you were

if you find that entertaining

With Gangham Style, I did (sort of) get the appeal. There was a method to the dance. The video was entertaining in a “what in God’s name is going on here” way. I do believe the whole thing was (and remains to be) dumb, and that Psy guy – well he is quite a piece of work, in his mink coat and fancy eye makeup. But I still got it.

This Harlem Shake thing, though, is a totally different ballgame. It’s like planking was – stupid, pointless, not unique by any stretch of the imagination, and in some cases dangerous. There is nothing unique about people dry humping the air and just shaking like morons. There is not a thing fascinating about people stripping down to near-nothing in large groups (as they do in the majority of the videos I’ve seen).

There has to be a lot missing upstairs for someone to find this so-called dance truly entertaining. Sanity, decency, respect, and intelligence are among those things.

The question we should all ask ourselves…

Whenever an Internet fad comes up like this, I always ask myself “would I do that in front of a group of people.” Or more specifically when it comes to this so-called Harlem Shake – would I do that in front of a group of people in Harlem?

Shit no. Shit no I would not.

I wouldn’t dream of doing that in front of a group of people in Harlem, and I especially wouldn’t dare call it the Harlem Shake. Now personally, I have never been to Harlem. But I have been to places like it, and it isn’t often that – in places like Harlem – I have seen a bunch of stupid white people dry humping the air to weird, new age techno music. Yeah … no. I just haven’t, and I wouldn’t do it.

The same went for planking, Gangham Style, owling, fridging … all of it. All of the idiotic Internet fads that seem to prevail in our ever-devalued popular culture. I wouldn’t do any of them in front of a large group of people.

Clearly there are those that would, but I am just not one of them. Maybe you would. Maybe you would strip down to your tighty-whiteys and throw on a mask. Do the stupid intro where one person softly humps the air, inspiring gads of people to show up and then violently do the same. Slap the air as if there is an actual woman there being slapped. You enjoy your dry hump to tacky techno music. STFU when it comes to the name of it, though. It may be a tacky, crappy dance fad. But it ain’t no Harlem Shake, that’s for sure.


  1. jimcolv

    That about sums it up. Haven’t really had time to read much, comment or post anything. But I’ve been hearing about this dumb s*** and happened to come across these folks having conniption fits on camera and calling it a dance. This is what some parts of society have been further reduced to. A whole bunch of people starving for attention, trying hard to be relevant or trying to make sense of their existence. People just need to be themselves. All of these fads, memes, etc., that’s not life. That’s why I just say f*** it all.

  2. totalrandomthoughts

    I was lucky enough to avoid planking and Gagnam Style, but this one snuck up on me! I wish I could unsee it!

    I love to dance, I love the concept of flash mobs, especially when they are done right.

    But this new fad is just idiotic and insulting to the actual dance, and shows that the person who started this had absolutely no respect for dance, Harlem or themselves and their lack of originality and creativity.

  3. tweety1alise

    Reblogged this on tweety1alise and commented:
    simply stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Claudia Gabrielle Riviere

    Reblogged this on claudintheclouds blog spot and commented:
    The Harlem shake not to conquer Harlem

  5. UndercoverL

    I don’t know anything about Harlem Shakes, Gangnam Style, owling, planking or Flash Mobs. I also hate Lolcats. Am I out of the loop?

  6. Connie

    I’ve never understood the way people dance any more. It’s not beautiful, it’s not fluid, it makes no sense! I haven’t seen much of this “Harlem Shake”, so I’m not sure what it’s really about. But if it’s anything like “Gangnam Style”, I think I’ll pass.

  7. crankycaregiver

    I guess great minds think alike. I posted on this very dance last week “Dancing with the Shakes”. It’s too bad that a hip-hop dance has been turned into something that looks obscene. Good post!

  8. April

    I knew I wasn’t alone! My husband was showing it me on YouTube, and I was just dumbfounded! Where is the dance? How the fuck did it make it main stream? Are there really that many fuckwits on Youtube? Whatever, just like the other shit fads mentioned above… it will be gone, but unfortunately, not before every ass in galaxy promotes it.

  9. Quirky Chrissy

    I may or may not have pissed off a large group of people planning on flash mobbing this “Harlem” Shake at our local mall…because I may or may not have Tweeted the very public Facebook event and the mall may or may not have said, “No way, kids.” It wasn’t intentionally to rat them out, but they are pretty much calling me out as a douche because “The mall people never would have found out about it if I hadn’t Tweeted it.” Never? Really?

    Anyways, I think most internet phenomenons are idiotic. Our society not only embraces, but also REWARDS stupidity. Reality TV anyone?

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