Ryerson does the Harlem Shake

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By Nicole Schmidt

By the looks of things, we won’t be hearing any more Gangnam Style for quite a long time. But the fall of this obscene dance craze can only mean that another must take its place.

The Harlem Shake, the newest YouTube sensation, has done just that.

The video trend consists of a usually masked individual dancing to Baauer’s electro song, Harlem Shake. In every 30-second clip, the person must dance by pelvic thrusting, alone and unnoticed, amongst a crowd for 15 seconds. Then, when the bass drops and on cue with the words “Harlem Shake”, the action transitions to a large group with unusual props and costumes joining in for the remaining 15 seconds.

But the Harlem Shake, unlike Gangnam Style, is not a remake of the original video, in which singer Baauer is simply at a club with girls. The fad actually originated from satirical blogger Filthy Frank, who posted a clip in a pink bodysuit with friends, grooving to the tune.

Within a week, more than 12,000 versions of the Harlem Shake had made their way into offices, kitchens, basketball courts, fire trucks, and now, Ryerson.

Joshua Samways, the director and orchestrator of the first Harlem Shake video to be filmed at Ryerson, says that after he saw the videos trending online, he wanted to get the university involved.

“It was one of the funniest videos I’d seen on YouTube in a while and I thought ‘Why not Ryerson?’” Samways said.

According to him, setting up the video was a quick process. In a matter of six hours, Samways rounded up about 40 people into the Pitman cafeteria and things fell into place from there.

“When we got up there, everyone was going crazy,” said Samways. “I ended up taking my shirt off and pelvic thrusting, and that’s not something I typically do.”

The video has been posted for a little over a week and already it has around 58,000 views.

There were, however, another three renditions of the Harlem Shake made at Ryerson — an image arts version, an RTA version, and the most recent campus-wide version shot Friday, featuring Eggy and 500 students going crazy (some even shirtless in the freezing weather) in Dundas Square.

But Ryerson hasn’t been the only university to jump on board. Guelph, the University of Toronto, York, McGill, Wilfred Laurier, along with countless others have also posted their own Harlem Shakes.

Jordan Mady, one of the editors of the Pitman version video, says that it’s becoming a competition between universities to see who can do the biggest and best Harlem Shake.

“We started getting all of these negative comments on our video from students at other schools after we posted it,” said Mady. “Now, it’s about who is the better university, and you can’t prove that through a video.”


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