The Harlem Shake and Its Enduring Hip Hop Legacy

Dive into the raw and rhythmic world of Hip Hop with the legendary dance move known as the “Harlem Shake.” This iconic move isn’t just a passing trend; it’s an intrinsic stitch in the fabric of street dance culture. Embodied by convulsive shakes, loose limbs, and an unashamedly free spirit, the Harlem Shake invites dancers to break conventions and embody the true essence of Hip Hop: individuality and self-expression. Join us as we explore the shake that took over both underground and mainstream scenes alike.

Video Demonstration

Dance History of The Harlem Shake

The Harlem Shake originated in Harlem, New York, in the early 1980s. It was created by a man named Al B, a resident who described the dance as an “alcoholic shake.” He allegedly named it after the shaking that occurs with severe alcohol withdrawal, but the dance itself was inspired by the ancient Egyptian dance step called “the pharaoh.” In its early days, the Harlem Shake was a true representation of the vibrant and creative spirit of the Harlem neighborhood, reflecting the cultural dynamics of its people.

 

The dance became mainstream when it appeared in music videos and was performed by notable Hip Hop figures. It reached new heights of popularity in the 2000s with the emergence of an Internet meme involving a comical version of the dance, further cementing its presence in popular culture.

Step By Step Instruction

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping your body loose and relaxed.
  2. Begin with a slight shoulder shimmy, alternating the movement from one shoulder to the other.
  3. Let this shimmying motion travel down your arms and into your hands, resulting in a relaxed, almost jelly-like tremble.
  4. Engage your torso, shaking it as you maintain the unstructured and free movement of the shoulders and arms.
  5. Introduce a slight bending of the knees with the rhythm, coordinating it with the shakes to amplify the Harlem vibe.
  6. Enhance the authenticity of the Harlem Shake by allowing spontaneous and jerkier movements to lead into an overall chaotic yet controlled dance experience.

Tips For Learning The Harlem Shake

  • Start by loosening up your body to get into the carefree spirit of the move.
  • Focus on isolating the shoulders and gradually allow the movement to flow through your arms.
  • Don’t overthink the movements—the Harlem Shake thrives on being unstudied and genuine.
  • Incorporate your unique style into the shake, making the move your own.
  • Practice in front of a mirror to capture the essence of the original Harlem Shake vibe.

Conclusion

The Harlem Shake stands as a potent symbol of Hip Hop’s enduring ability to bring a communal sense of joy and unscripted expression to the dance floor. This move isn’t just about the shaking; it’s about embracing the moment, the music, and the quintessential spirit of freedom that epitomizes Hip Hop. As a fixture of street dance history, the Harlem Shake remains a crowd favorite, embodying the electric pulse of Harlem’s streets and the soul of Hip Hop dance.

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