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Basketball, Swimming, Football And More – Do The Harlem Shake Spreads To The Sporting World

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2012 was a memorable year for YouTube and viral video phenomenons with the success of Gangnam style and Call Me Maybe. Into the first quarter of 2013 and it seems like sparking viral trends across the globe is only going to get easier and more common in the future. This feature takes a look at the inception of the “Do the Harlem Shake” meme and its effect on bringing out the fun side of sports teams.

Born on April 30, 1989 in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Harrison Rodrigues starting producing music from the age of 13, mostly making house and electronic dance music (EDM). Rodrigues moved to New York City at the age of 18 to study audio technology, a time during which he stayed in Harlem for two years. He moved to Brooklyn in 2009 and currently resides here, although he is now better known as Baauer.

Incase you are wondering why we are talking about Harrison “Baauer” Rodrigues, it is likely that you don’t “Do the Harlem shake“, a meme that has gone insanely viral and is based on a song by Baauer titled “Harlem Shake“. Baauer’s hip-hop influenced EDM cocktail officially put an end to the viral craze of Psy’s Gangnam Style, after a 30 second internet meme based on the song went viral in February 2013. Although the track first released in May 2012 and was offered as a free digital download it went relatively un-noticed till the online meme featuring the song exploded on YouTube. Baauer hit jackpot as the phenomenon gained momentum making it the number one song on the iTunes US store and among the top 10 songs for the stores in UK, Australia, Germany, Canada and New Zealand during the second half of February 2013.

The concept of the “Do the Harlem Shake” meme is quite simple which is why it has been replicated so easily by hundreds of groups, teams and associations around the world. Most of the videos, all of which get uploaded on YouTube last between 30 and 32 seconds and feature part of the song by Baauer. Usually, a video begins with one person (often helmeted or masked) dancing to the song alone for 15 seconds, surrounded by other people not paying attention or unaware of the dancing individual. When the bass drops, the video cuts to the entire crowd doing a crazy convulsive dance for the next 15 seconds. Additionally, in the second half of the video, people often wear crazy outfits or costumes while wielding strange props. As of February 15, 2013 there were around 40,000 “Do The Harlem Shake” meme’s on YouTube which had a combined view count of 175 million. This number is only bound to increase further as the phenomenon begins to spread globally.

The success of the meme is a combination of various factors such as short length, expected format and ease of creation. Another vital ingredient behind its viral spread has been its adoption by inherently social organizations such as professional associations, universities, start-ups and sports teams. Achieving viral fame in today’s world is all about having access to either influencers or a large army of digital media mavens. Most of the successful “Do the Harlem Shake” videos had these audience segments as part of them particularly the sports teams.

Its not often that one gets to see the human and fun side of sportsmen, but thanks to Baauer’s Harlem Shake one can get a glimpse of some entertaining “Do The Harlem Shake” variations.

Basketball – Miami Heat

Published on February 28, 2013, the Le-Bron James led “Do the Harlem Shake” video featuring members the 12 time NBA champions Miami Heat team has gathered close to 40 million views and is among the most successful versions of the meme.

Filmed in the teams locker room, this slightly longer variation of the shake has caught the fancy of people in the USA particularly Basketball fans and the country’s media. With LeBron James in a king’s costume and Mario Chalmers dressed as Super Mario the video further fueled the frenzy of the dance craze just as it appeared to be dying down. Infact with this variation, the NBA rivalry seems to have shifted online with the Minnesota Timberwolves taking out their own version of the dance routine with a goal to literally bash the living daylight’s out of the Heats.

Swimming – University of Georgia Swim Team

Next on the chart of the most successful Harlem Shakes in sports is what is now being referred to as the “Swim Shake“. With 30 million plus views the University of Georgia’s swimming and diving team did something that was really stunning. They shot the video underwater with as many as 20 members of the team present towards the last 15 seconds of the gag.

This points to another reason for the mind-blowing growth of the meme. It spread to diverse communities and was adapted by individuals with various kinds of skills leading to a mind-blowing showcase of creativity.

Cheerleading, Football, Billiards, Rock Climbing …

At the time of publishing of this feature, the “Do The Harlem Shake” furor has been going on for close to a month and appears to be dying out in the USA. It is also true that inspired by the success of their counterparts there are thousands of other sports-men in various parts of the world contemplating the creation of their own version of the Harlem Shake. If the Harlem Shake sports compilation above is anything to by, we are probably in-store for a few more rounds of “Con los terroristas“.

Which of the above videos is your favorite? What “Do the Harlem Shake” sports innovation would you like to see? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment or mentioning us on Twitter.