The Shake Comes Home to Harlem!

Learn about the dance craze and watch your classmates do it! Marlene Marte

Just three decades ago the “Harlem Shake” was born in Harlem. Now everybody’s doing it.

Harlem native Albert Boyce, better known as Al B., would dance twisting and shaking his shoulders during halftime at the Rucker Park basketball games. His dance spread outside of Harlem on to music videos with dance crews making members of the Harlem community proud.

The whole thing’s been revived, sort of. Today a recent viral craze also going by the name of the Harlem Shake has shaken up some controversy. Some locals feel this new Harlem Shake doesn’t credit Boyce who passed away in 2006, and believes it has taken away the historical and cultural context of the original dance.

While the original Harlem Shake was typically danced to hip-hop music, the new Shake is danced to an electric mix produced by a Brooklyn local named Baauer. The new version, which remains at the top of pop charts, has been mimicked by millions worldwide. Students, teens, firemen, Army officers, radio hosts, celebrities, even the NBA’s Miami Heat have uploaded their versions of the Shake! Each video follows a set of rules; a length duration of 30 seconds, odd costumes, waving of random objects, and a main person dancing for 15 seconds while the others are oblivious to what’s going on until about 15 seconds after, then they join in.

Most CCNY students are more interested in the fun than the controversy about the history of the song and dance. Brian Gonzalez, a film/English major at CCNY, pulled together his own verision of the Shake. He asked students to participate via Facebook and over 25 students volunteered. Although he isn’t physically in the video, he recorded, edited, and posted the video on YouTube. Almost a month later, the video has over 5,000 views.

“The experience was great,” he says. “Harlem natives shouldn’t be offended. People making Harlem Shake videos aren’t mocking the dance, they’re merely reacting to the song.”

“If the song said ‘and do the Stupid Ducky’ and someone had made the same type of ridiculous video, it still would’ve caught on,” he adds. “I’m glad to know that I played a by part in making the CCNY Harlem Shake.”

Have a good laugh; watch the video here: