The Harlem Shake at BU: memetic dancing and you

Stony Brook University students participating in their own Harlem Shake. (max_wei / Flickr)

In these times of economic uncertainty, ongoing military conflict in the Middle East and Africa, unprecedented melting of arctic ice, and increasing concentration of corporate control, there is nothing more unifying than the reinterpretation of Internet viral videos and memes, the favored pastimes amongst idle hands and bored individuals of the Internet crowd. Move over Descartes, it appears Internet users have reinvented “cogito ergo sum” into “look at me world, I exist!”Following the massive international success of a video featuring Bobcats coach Cheung sinking a half-court shot, Brandon University hopes to gain some more international success by organizing and filming its very own version of the viral video the Harlem Shake. Featuring music by the British-born electronic artist Baauer, the popular meme has taken the Internet world by storm.

This Harlem Shake, let it be known, in no way represents the infamous “Harlem Shake”, a dance commonly performed in Harlem, New York. “They’re dry humping air,” one Harlem inhabitant says in a SchleppFilms YouTube video interview with the Harlem community while watching a version of the Harlem Shake. “I feel like this is really [a] violation towards Harlem and anybody that’s in Harlem,” says another.

BUSU president, Carissa Rose, says she wants to involve the entire university community, both faculty and students. “But that’s not all,” she added, “I want students to come out wearing crazy outfits and boast school spirit.” She has also informed me of a special, secret guest whom she feels she cannot disclose.

It is believed that the video has gained notoriety for its climactic nature as well as its relative shortness. When Ms. Rose was asked why she thought the video was so popular, she responded by saying, “I don’t know what it is. It’s just crazy fun.” Perhaps there is some mysterious quality beyond appearances at work.

“I think it’s fantastic,” explained Corey DeGagne, BUSU’s science commissioner. “I want to see the BU president and the BUFA president together in solidarity.”

Dean of Students David Rowland, who is organizing the event, is hoping for a good turnout. “I’m inviting everyone to come out and show their school spirit,” said Mr. Rowland. “We’re aiming for about 100 to 150 students.” When asked what he expects the university to gain from having such a video, he said, “Why not? Maybe it will go viral, too.”

Anyone interested in participating is welcome to join the Brandon University Harlem Shake Crew in the cafeteria at 2:30 pm on Friday, March 1st.

Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 103, Issue 22, February 26, 2013.