Avalanche always gets the crowd going when he steps on the court, but recently he’s gained more than 17,000 fans by doing the Harlem Shake, a new viral dance. The original Harlem Shake Internet meme was uploaded to YouTube on Feb. 2 by five teenagers from Australia.
“Each [dance] starts with someone dancing solo to an escalating rhythm, surrounded by people oblivious to his moves,” states The Wall Street Journal on the basis of the Harlem Shake. “Then there’s a camera cut, a big beat drops, and the frame suddenly fills with multiple dancers going berserk to the song.”
In KU’s edition of the Harlem Shake, Avalanche and a few other mascot team members started the show by cleaning the basketball court floor in the Keystone Arena. As the music progresses, Avalanche starts to dance in the middle of the court. Then, when the beat drops, it cuts to a shot of about 100 KU students going wild in cougar costumes, gorilla costumes, sunglasses, gold chains and even some men in skirts.
KU senior Nick Carson arranged the event for Feb. 19. Originally planning on having just the Avalanche mascot team in the video, Carson opened the opportunity to other KU students through a Facebook page. Once everyone met in the gym at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, the whole production took less than 30 minutes. They played the music over the gym speaker system and video taped the song. Nick’s brother Matt, also a senior at KU, didn’t waste any time editing and completing the video production; it was posted on YouTube the same day.
In less than 24 hours of being on YouTube, the KU video had over 7,000 views. Within a week, the video reached a huge crowd of over 17,000 people, which exceeds the KU student enrollment by approximately 7,000 people.
“It’s definitely getting popular,” commented Nick Carson. “We were lucky enough to have caught it right before it peaked; I think we got it at pretty good timing.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, “More than 100,000 Harlem Shake-related videos have been uploaded on YouTube, drawing a total of 400 million views.” The success of the videos is credited to the short length, hypnotic beat and simplicity.
“The whole thing that makes the Harlem Shake funny is how simple it is. So don’t try to complicate it—just get a bunch of people and act nuts,” suggests Carson.
Other KU organizations have made their own versions of the catchy dance sensation, and they aren’t the only ones feeling the beat. Stars like basketball players from the Mavericks, the staff of The Daily Show, Ryan Seacrest, members of WWE and the staff of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon have also had fun with the song.
American DJ/producer Baauer released the song on May 22, 2012, but it didn’t become popular until the Internet dance meme took off in February 2013. Internet crazes like this impact a surprisingly large amount of people in a very quick fashion due to social media sites. The Harlem Shake reminds us that sometimes everyone needs to have a little fun and just shake it.
By Haley Bianco