Sorry to disappoint all you Harlem Shake aficionados out there, but this sucker’s fifteen minutes of fame is long gone. Not only is it merely a lame derivative of the Harlem Shuffle, which originated in the Harlem ballrooms of the 1960s, but it makes the almost as vapid Gangnam Style of 2012 look like the height of creativity by comparison.
You want to talk dance crazes? Here are ten any swanky dude or dudette will recognize. Keep in mind we’re talking about actual dances here, not just dance moves. That explains the absence of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. Alrighty then. Here we go.
The Mashed Potato: Back in the ‘60s, bands were writing songs for the express purpose of creating a dance craze. A few of them really took off. This was one.
The Techtonik: This craze began in Paris and was basically break dancing combined with ‘80s hip-hop moving to a relentless house music beat. Better be in good shape.
Harlem Shuffle: Want see a real dance craze that emerged from the streets of Harlem? Check out this Rolling Stones video from 1986. Even at that time it had already been around for a few decades.
The Jump: Popularized by kid rappers Kriss Kross in 1982, this safe ghetto dance craze allowed the suburban white kids to feel hardcore. Let your pants ride low or, even better, put ‘em on backwards and you’re ready to jump.
The Jitterbug: The Jitterbug emerged from the Depression-era Dixieland jazz clubs, and Cab Calloway was the ringleader. It actually sort of resembles the Harlem Shake with its frantic drunken style involving plenty of jumping, bouncing, and random arm waving.
Slam Dancing: This one is for the punks. Often confused with moshing, slam dancing harkens back to the early days of punk. Legend says it was invented by Sex Pistols bassist, Sid Vicious. The original slam dance style was not as violent or aggressive as it later became when combined with moshing. Get yer black leather jacket and dog collar and start slamming!
The Macarena: We’re getting into the heavyweights now. If you were alive in 1996 and haven’t repressed the painful memory, you can probably shake out a few steps of this one-hit wonder sung entirely in Spanish. Need a refresher video? Not while we’re in charge of this website.
The Charleston: Think Jimmy Stewart dancing in the high school gymnasium in It’s a Wonderful Life. Enough said.
The Robot: We blame Styx for this guilty pleasure.
The Twist: Chubby Checker is the acknowledged patron saint of dance crazes. The twist was the first craze that didn’t have couples touching each other. One of Checker’s band members described the movement: “It’s like putting out a cigarette with both feet and wiping your bottom with a towel…” To the beat of the music, of course.
Harlem Shake a dance craze? We checked with Jake Swank and the answer is a definite “No!” Is it at least momentarily swanky? Ditto. If you’re wondering what the hell we’re talking about, here are the reigning NBA champions Miami Heat with their take on the shake. Okay, maybe it is just a LITTLE bit funny. (Top image: Flickr | Marie L.)
The Swank Life Team