What on earth is the Harlem Shake anyway?

If you spend any time on the internet at all, you've probably noticed a completely baffling new craze sweeping YouTube: the Harlem Shake. So what the heck is it?

(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

If you spend any time on the internet at all, you've probably noticed a completely baffling new craze sweeping YouTube: the Harlem Shake. So what the heck is it?

If you've clicked on anything on YouTube with the title Harlem Shake in the last week, you will have been greeted by a spectacle involving several bizarrely clad individuals throwing themselves about in convulsive glee to a strange, yet strangely compelling, electronic dance track.

It is the bewildering new craze that has the fickle internet amused this week.

Not to be confused with the dance that was born in the '80s and popularised by rapper G Dep in 2001, the new Harlem Shake is set to a song of the same name by electro musician Bauuer.

Here's how it goes: one person will be dancing like one of those inflatable tube men you see outside car dealerships, while everyone else sits around deadpan; then the bass drops about 15 seconds in, and suddenly everyone is dancing like one of those inflatable tube men you see outside car dealerships, with the song and video suddenly cutting out at the first sample of a lion's roar in the track.

The original video that kicked it all off was posted by YouTube user Filthy Frank, featuring the dance in the first 30 seconds of a compilation. It doesn't follow the one-person-dancing-then-everyone-joins-in convention; it's just four people in really weird outfits.

There are no set steps or moves — and no real relationship to the original dance, either, except for the track.

Since then, it's inspired quite a few different editions: My Little Pony; an underwater version; the Norwegian army; Peanuts; father and son; musicians Matt and Kim; and even fire fighters.

So now you know about as much as we do. Hopefully you are feeling a little less baffled by it, but if you're not, then don't worry too much; the internet being what it is, everyone will have forgotten all about it by this time next week.

 

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