Harlem Shake


The Harlem Shake is not a technology term, but rather a viral internet meme and dance phenomenon that gained popularity in early 2013. It features a group of people performing a specific dance move to the song “Harlem Shake” by electronic musician Baauer. The video consists of a single person dancing casually for about 15 seconds, followed by a sudden cut where the entire group breaks into a chaotic, energetic dance.


The phonetic transcription of “Harlem Shake” in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is: /ˈhɑr.ləm ʃeɪk/.

Key Takeaways

  1. Harlem Shake is a viral internet dance meme that became popular in early 2013, featuring a 30-second video clip of people dancing erratically to the electronic song “Harlem Shake” by Baauer.
  2. The video format typically begins with one masked person dancing to the beat while others around them are unaware, then when the beat drops, it cuts to everyone joining in the chaotic dance, often wearing costumes and using props.
  3. Harlem Shake videos gained widespread popularity, with individuals, organizations, and even celebrities participating in the trend, leading to thousands of remixes and parodies uploaded to social media platforms like YouTube.


The technology term “Harlem Shake” is important because it represents a viral internet phenomenon that demonstrated the power of social media and user-generated content in rapidly popularizing trends and ideas.

The Harlem Shake started as a dance video featuring an electronic dance music track by producer Baauer, which quickly gained immense popularity in 2013, resulting in a massive influx of user-generated videos mimicking the style and format.

The widespread and rapid sharing of these videos across social media platforms showcased the potential of the digital age to create, share, and foster global trends, transcending geographic boundaries and cultural differences, while also highlighting the contemporary internet culture and how it impacts modern society.


The Harlem Shake, while not strictly a technology term, gained widespread popularity due to the internet and viral nature of social media platforms. It is a dance phenomenon that originated from the 2012 electronic dance music (EDM) track “Harlem Shake” by American producer Baauer.

The purpose of the Harlem Shake dance was to provide a unique and entertaining spectacle that took advantage of the interconnectedness of social media, allowing the remarkable dance to spread swiftly throughout various online channels. Participants would create short videos featuring a seemingly mundane setting, with one person subtly dancing to the music while others remained unaware.

Suddenly, the beat drops, and the scene transitions to all individuals in the video joining in, performing enthusiastic and bizarre dance moves in costumes and eccentric attire. The Harlem Shake’s rapid spread can be attributed to its core intention — to foster a spirit of spontaneity and fun among groups of people, both as participants and viewers.

Social media influencers, sports teams, companies, and everyday individuals all engaged in the activity, ultimately creating a global sensation that transcended cultural boundaries.-

Examples of Harlem Shake

The “Harlem Shake” is not a technology, but rather a viral internet meme from

It is a dance video that showcased people dancing eccentrically to the song “Harlem Shake” by electronic musician Baauer. Here are three real-world examples associated with the Harlem Shake phenomenon:

Workplace Harlem Shake Videos: During the peak of the craze, many companies and organizations joined in by creating their own Harlem Shake videos. This helped increase team-building and camaraderie among employees while also promoting their brand through social media.

Sports Teams Participation: Sports teams, such as the University of Georgia Men’s Swim and Dive Team, found a way to engage with fans by creating their own versions of the Harlem Shake. It fostered team spirit and provided an entertaining experience for their supporters.

Charity Harlem Shake Events: Some organizations capitalized on the Harlem Shake’s popularity to raise awareness and funds for charitable causes. In 2013, a 5K race called the Harlem Shake-Off took place in Manhattan, Kansas, raising money for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event.

Harlem Shake FAQ

What is the Harlem Shake?

The Harlem Shake is a popular dance, characterized by energetic and complex moves, which originated in Harlem, New York City, in 1981. It gained significant popularity across the world in 2013 when it became a viral internet meme, where various groups of people would create short comedic videos performing a version of the dance.

Who created the Harlem Shake?

The Harlem Shake dance was created by a Harlem resident named Al B, who combined various existing dance moves to form the unique style. However, the Harlem Shake meme was popularized by an electronic dance music producer named Baauer and a YouTuber named Filthy Frank, who uploaded a video featuring the dance and Baauer’s song titled “Harlem Shake”.

Why did the Harlem Shake become so popular?

The Harlem Shake quickly gained popularity due to various factors such as its catchy music, simplicity, humor, and the ease with which individuals and groups could participate in creating their unique variations. Additionally, several popular internet personalities took part in the trend, which further boosted its viral spread.

How do you perform the Harlem Shake dance?

The Harlem Shake dance typically involves exaggerated shoulder shrugs accompanied by rhythmic movement of the arms and legs. In the meme version, one person dances subtly while wearing a helmet or mask, and when the beat drops, the video cuts to a scene of everyone else in the group dancing wildly and using various props or costumes.

Is the Harlem Shake still popular today?

Although the viral meme trend has declined, the Harlem Shake remains a cultural phenomenon with a lasting impact on internet culture. Many people are still familiar with the dance and its origins, and it is occasionally referenced in popular media or used in creative expressions or performances.

Related Technology Terms

  • Internet meme
  • Virality
  • Social media sharing
  • Dance craze
  • Video editing

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