'Harlem Shake:' Is it a tribute or a spoof?
A column by BY JULIA GOUSSETIS, 17, Freestyle Staff Writer
the staff of Freestyle
The Jitterbug. The Twist. The YMCA. The Dougie. The Jerk. All of these dance moves, no matter how old chronologically, have one theme in common -- they have captivated nations and the world.
In 2012, we saw the ascent of Psy's "Gangnam Style." But what is the world's newest dance craze in 2013? What began as a YouTube phenomenon by five teenagers in Australia has had the world displaying uncoordinated flailing of arms and torsos known as The Harlem Shake.
The concept of the dance is simple and lasts only 30 seconds in YouTube videos. The song, by recording artist Baauer, begins with one person dancing while the remaining people look oblivious and unaware of the scene. As the beat drops and the voice in the song calls out, "Do the Harlem Shake," everyone starts to dance, usually in crazy costumes. A lion's roar marks the end of the dance.
The real Harlem Shake was first created in 1981 by Albert "Al B" Leopold Boyce, who would perform the dance as entertainment at halftime basketball tournaments in Rucker Park, New York. The dance became popular in Harlem and was known as the "Al B."
Many people today are not aware of the roots of this dance, first made popular by "Al B." This has created some controversy within the Harlem neighborhood. Some residents say that it's reviving the original dance and is a source of pride for the area. Others are outraged at the incorrect version of the dance being performed in YouTube editions, insisting that it strays from the original and mocks the Harlem culture.
The Harlem Shake has been performed by many far and wide: Norwegian Army officers, flash mobs, high school sports teams and politicians have used it to get across their messages.
Music, dance and all of the arts are forms of expression intended to influence a society. Sometimes the message is pride in one's culture. Other times anger, frustration and political revolt are channeled through the arts, echoing the voices of the people. Still other times, the arts express existential hopes for the future.
Consider this thought: What music, dance, or other art form influences who you are? What do the art forms that you consider important say about you?