The current Internet trend called “Harlem Shake” recently took over the APSU UC Plaza this past Friday, Feb. 22. At noon, the plaza was crowded with students and even some faculty and staff, either watching or wanting to participate in the APSU rendition of the Harlem Shake.
Ben Biesendorfer, an APSU student, started an Austin Peay Harlem Shake group on Facebook and it immediately gained attention. After having so many members join the group, Biesendorfer decided to make an actual event on campus.
“I originally thought of holding a big Harlem Shake in the library or somewhere on campus for fun. I started a group page on Facebook to plan it, and [the group] quickly grew from 30 people to 700,” Biesendorfer said. “I first heard of the Harlem Shake from a friend. The short time [since] it has appeared on YouTube, it has gone viral and it seems like it is all everyone is talking about now.”
The Harlem Shake is a type of dance, recorded as a video, with Electronic musician Baaur’s song “Harlem Shake” played in the background.
The video of the dance usually begins with one person dancing to the song by his or herself, typically wearing a mask or helmet, while people in the background act normal. About fifteen seconds in, when the bass drops in the song, a large crowd appears and everyone joins in by dancing convulsively, wearing odd costumes.
The first take of the Harlem Shake was made by YouTube vlogger “Filthy Frank”, who randomly decided to post a video of him and his friends dancing to the song. The video that led to the Harlem Shake’s popularity was a response video made by a group on YouTube referred to as “SunnyCoastSkate.” Since then, the view count for SunnyCoastSkate’s rendition of Harlem Shake has grown past 15,000,000 views. Hundreds of different Harlem Shake videos have been posted online. When asked to describe the Harlem Shake, student Maggie Jackson said, “Honestly, you just have to watch it.”
“The event was also a great way for different organizations to unite for a day of fun,” Biesendorfer said. “Many organizations such as fraternities, sororities, GSA, the Social Work Club and many more are showing interest in coming together as one [to] represent APSU, doing our own Harlem Shake. I think this whole Harlem Shake movement has created a competition to see who can make the best video. At the same time, I feel it has drawn people together and [creates] unity. I think it is a good way to represent APSU and show its unity as a school.”
Kelsey Brasfield, vice-president of the Gay-Straight Alliance, said she enjoyed how everyone got involved together to participate.
Participants were dressed in costumes, varying from kilts and neon outfits to men in lingerie and robot costumes.
“I think it’s fun and a good excuse to just act crazy for thirty seconds,” said former APSU student Erica Smith, dressed in a panda suit.
But Biesendorfer’s event wasn’t the only take on Harlem Shake at APSU. Other videos have surfaced on YouTube from different departments and organizations on campus, like Governors Own Marching Band, the art department and the recreation department.
In addition, the Student Life & Engagement office sponsored a Harlem Shake video contest for student organizations on campus. The funniest and most creative entry for the contest wins $250 for their organization. The winners will be announced Thursday, Feb. 28, at 5 p.m. in UC 305.