Viral dances infect nation

Students in the yearbook class perform the Harlem Shake in a video.  Students used the video in a commercial to sell yearbooks.

Students in the yearbook class perform the Harlem Shake in a video. Students used the video in a commercial to sell yearbooks.

Viral dances have been a part of our society since the early 1920’s, with the Charleston and the Shimmey, but as our society moves into a digital era, the accessibility and influence of these fads grow. The internet makes access to these videos exponentially easier, and it make recreating these risky dances that much easier, too.

Anyone with access to the internet knows of a new viral dance infecting the populous. The Harlem Shake, inspired by the song “Harlem Shake”, produced by Baauer in 2012, has hit the internet hard. The dance starts with a person, usually masked, dancing in place, unnoticed by the other people in the room, and when the beat drops in the song, more people appear and perform crazy and random actions.

2012 boasted two popular dances: Twerking and Gangnam Style. Before these, there was the Burnie and the Dougie. Adding the Harlem Shake to the bunch produces a plethora of brief fads. These dances only seem to survive for a few months before they die out, but why are they around so briefly? My guess is that the amount of popularity they receive in such a minute space of time shocks them and, well, “kills” them.

The same trend occurs with each dance that crawls out of the woodwork. The accompaniment is produced and the dance starts appearing on the internet after a few weeks. After the original video reaches millions of views online, hundreds of hopeful adolescents make their own version with hopes of achieving similar success. Hundreds turns to thousands and in the span of a few months, the internet is littered with thousands of videos of the same dance. This instafame seems to be the death of beast. Even now, the popularity of the Harlem Shake is on the decline, and from this pattern, we can expect to see it forgotten in a 2-3 months.

In the short time it has been around, the Harlem Shake has been the most risky dance to reproduce. It seems that in these videos, the venue is one of the most important aspects. Locations include open fields, high school bathrooms, and even at the bottom of swimming pools, but some charlottons have taken it further. Even Twerking provoked people to stand on tables or on frozen ponds. Harlem Shake videos have been released depicting Australian mine workers, students in classrooms, and even passengers on an airplane.

Those mine workers were fired for practicing risky behavior on the job. Meanwhile, the students in the classroom were suspended for disrupting class and the actions of the passengers on the airplane warranted an investigation. People are pushing the envelope with these videos and putting themselves, as well as others, in danger. How more dangerous can these videos get?


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