Jul 29, 2014

Suffolk Students Get in on 'Harlem Shake' Dance Craze

Organizer says video is an excuse to have some fun.

By now, you've probably heard of the Harlem Shake — if not, you're about to. It's one of those video dance crazes that's gone viral, and, on Thursday, Riverhead college students got in on the action.

Between 30 and 40 college students gathered to dance in syncopated movements in the cafeteria at Suffolk County Community College's campus in Riverhead.

The meme starts with one dancer rocking to the music all on his lonesome — in this case, a giant bunny — while the people around him are seemingly oblivious. About 15 seconds in, the videos cut to the entire room jamming in a frenzy.

Silly costumes, risqué dance moves, and a lot of props, the Harlem Shake videos are prime to watch over and over because you'll usually spot something different each time.

Some videos are bringing in serious hits. Members of the Rocky Point Fire Department did one that has over 5.3 million views.

Joe Strzelecki, a freshman who just transferred to the Riverhead campus to study physical therapy, started watching them and found them hilarious, so much so that he was intent on organizing a large-scale one.

The 18-year-old spread the word over Facebook, creating an event for all to see, and making up fliers that he posted around the school on Tuesday. Still, he said he was a little nervous that students wouldn't show because he doesn't know too many of them yet and he didn't leave too many days to plan.

Not only did students show, but a few Harlem Shake fans from the greater community turned out.

Joseph Oliver, 26, the chief of the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps, said he had never met Strzelecki before, but thought it would be fun to participate and went ready to dance.

As luck would have it, Strzelecki's camera wouldn't turn and Oliver stepped in, filming with his iPhone. "Joe was nice enough to take one for the team," Strzelecki said.

"That 45-second video took almost an hour to get," Oliver said. He edited and posted the video. One thing he said to look for is the moment when a student accidentally knocked over a statue. "It's funny to watch everybody's reaction," he said.

So what's the whole point of the Harlem Shake videos?

"I feel like the whole point is just for people to have fun and get a good laugh out of it. I know its not the original Harlem Shake and people in Harlem are getting mad, which is understandable, but it's 2013, people are getting popular from posting random videos online."

According to NPR, the memes started with YouTube comedian Filthy Frank who used the song " Harlem Shake," by Brooklyn-based Latino producer Baauer, as an excuse to cut loose.

It was only after he had already posted his intentions that he heard that students on the community college campus in Selden had beat him to the punch, making their own video.

A Selden native who attended classes on that campus last semester, Strzelecki said there is a little friendly rivalry between Selden and Riverhead campuses.

The dueling videos, both of which are posted above, may have created a little competition.

What do you think of the Harlem Shake video phenomenon? Tell us in the comments below.

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