Niagara Gazette —
I’m not worried about misappropriation of the name or old “Al B” not getting the credit he deserves. My issue is with the fact that with each version of this dance the name makes less sense. Sure, Al was from Harlem and it was his dance, in a pre-Internet time it wouldn’t have spread too far outside of NYC so the name was sufficient. P. Diddy was raised in Mount Vernon, and put the dance in videos featuring rappers and dancers from across the country that were viewed around the world, but at least he was born in Harlem.
Baauer was raised in Germany, London and Connecticut and only moved to New York when he went to college. So when people refer to the Harlem Shake now, they mean that YouTube video that features that song by that guy who is really a ‘citizen of the world’ but lives in New York (Not Harlem) right now. That is basically nonsense.
Ever since the waltz, Charleston and jitterbug, some of the earliest dance crazes, dance names have all followed the trend of making no sense. The twist consisted of ‘twisting one’s torso,’ or the mashed potato resembles the dance one does when they’re excited to eat delicious mashed potatoes. For generations dances have been named after things that exist, but with the Harlem Shake, version 3.0 we’ve finally crossed the line into dance-name insanity.
That is, unless you count “The Bus Stop,” which has always been nonsense because let’s be honest, nobody takes the bus anymore.
Vincent Davis II is a Cornell graduate, DJ, and market development specialist in the IT industry. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org