The newest viral hit to infect YouTube, “The Harlem Shake,” has taken the Internet by storm spawning thousands of different versions of the video sensation. The supposed successor of the 2012 dance craze, Gangnam Style, has reached BYU-Hawaii students prompting students to do their own version at Hukilau Beach.
“Harlem Shake is a video that started bouncing around on YouTube. It starts with one individual dancing in a public place, like a library, a school or an airport. And as the music cuts to the next part, there’s a huge crowd of people dancing and acting crazy, just having a good time,” said Britton Winterrose, a sophomore majoring in business management from Richland, Wash.
Lasting typically around 30 seconds, the videos consist of one person dancing in a mask while others around the dancers continue about their day.
The virility of Harlem Shake has spread quickly. Kevin Allocca, a blogger for YouTube Trends, wrote, “As of the 11th [of February], around 12,000 ‘Harlem Shake’ videos had been posted since the start of the month and they'd already been watched upwards of 44 million times. 4,000 of these videos are being uploaded per day and that number is still likely on the rise.”
Winterrose organized the BYUH’s version of Harlem Shake through Facebook and asked those who showed up to invite their friends. Word got out of the video’s recording through text and Facebook. Those who made it brought costumes and props to make the video more entertaining. The shoot had a crowd of people who showed up.
Saren Koch, a freshman majoring in international cultural studies - intercultural peacebuilding from Oahu, said, “As soon as I saw that BYUH is doing a Harlem Shake, I was immediately for it. I’ve known the videos for a couple days and I was thinking of the idea myself and I was so happy that someone took the initiative to make the event.”
Koch did the video in a Pikachu costume. “So I wore the Pikachu costume. I put red circles on my cheeks and spent the entire Harlem Shake video just kinda playing with my ears, just going absolutely crazy,” she said.
In addition to the video being shot at Hukilau, there was an unplanned sand castle building contest held on the beach. The video incorporated the sand sculptures into the video that depicted famous landmarks like the pyramids in Egypt to the White House.
“My friends and I were having a sand castle competition before everyone else got there. We then decided to all be a part of it and to include our sand castles as part of the video as well. We thought it would be a fun experience and a fun way to represent BYU-Hawaii,” said Skylar Jensen, a sophomore majoring in business management from West Palm Beach, Florida. “My roommates and I made a sand castle replica of the Coliseum. I thought it was cool the way we included the sand castles in the video. It was pretty fun,” he added.
The video recording took about three hours to complete, incorporating a variety of shots on the beach with the “Harlem Shakers” even crawling out of the water onto shore.
Similar to a flash mob, the locations of these videos are usually held in a public places. In this case, the video was done on Hukilau Beach, in front of bewildered beach-goers.
Despain liked “the looks on the faces of people passing by as they watched us going crazy. I loved how they'd just walk by rubber-necking, looking both really confused and I liked how they thought it was hilarious.”
Ross Matsuura, a sophomore majoring in accounting from Idaho, said, “We jumped into the sand castles and danced around like monkeys . . . It was a great time.”
“The Harlem Shake videos have become a quick global phenomenon. I want to be able to look back and say that I was a part of it,” said Mariah Young, a sophomore from Washington majoring in social work. “Being a part of the video was definitely up there on my list of the craziest things I've ever done,” she added.
“We had a successful shoot on Saturday. We had probably 30 or 40 people there,” Winterrose said.
However, there was an issue that those who participated in Saturday’s recording consisted mainly of Caucasians and lacked representation of BYUH’s racial diversity. “There was a lot of feedback from the community and the students from the school that they wanted to get involved and try to make it more ethnically diverse,” Winterrose added.
“Well, I think everyone kind of wished that we'd had more different countries represented. But, the fact that we did it on Hukilau Beach, which is such a historically relevant place for Laie, was fantastic. I feel like that was great place to represent BYUH,” said Alyssa Despain, a junior majoring in business management from Washington.
In hopes of integrating more racial diversity, another Harlem Video shoot was planned for Monday evening, Feb. 18. There were only a few people who showed up for that shoot.
Carlene Jensen, a junior from Washington, said, “I’m extremely disappointed. I was super excited for this. We were in Honolulu and we rushed back just to come here. I even had the perfect moves, but it didn’t happen.”
“It’s Monday – it’s a holiday and I was kind of hoping this wouldn’t happen,” Winterrose admitted. As for the virility of BYUH’s rendition of the Harlem Shake at Hukilau Beach on Saturday, the outlook is hopeful.
“I think that even if it's not the most popular video, people will be interested. It's crazy how often people on the mainland say ‘...there's a BYU in Hawaii? I knew there were one in Utah and one in Idaho...’ So, I think students at the other BYU's will want to see what we put together, and people outside the church will be curious about the church school in Hawaii,” Despain said. “I think it'll definitely get a fair amount of views.”
“I thought [the video shoot] was a great example of how Facebook and contacting each other, via the Internet, is a great way to connect students on campus and to create other activities that are wholesome, hilarious, not dangerous – just an absolute blast,” Koch said.
The video is available on YouTube and shared through Facebook.