These days, the Harlem Shake is everywhere. You can barely use the bathroom in peace without seeing or hearing about it. Some of you may be confused. “This isn’t that shoulder-popping, arm-jiggling dance they did in all those Bad Boy videos,” you might say. And you’re absolutely right.
The original Shake debuted in Harlem in 1981, and remained underground until rappers G-Dep and P. Diddy brought it to mainstream attention 20 years later. It involved a specific and easily-recognizable set of moves. But in its current form, namely groups of people flailing around YouTube like dying salmon, you'd have no idea this was once a street-credible form of expression.
The fact is, this new Shake craze isn’t the first time widespread popularity has made a once-cool dance totally unbearable. The internet has a well-documented history of ruining great dances. Here’s a list of some of the more egregious examples:
1. The (Aforementioned) Harlem Shake
You all know this one. Even the Norwegian Army is getting in on the fun:
But the Shake as we once knew it was arguably at its height of popularity when Bad Boy released “Let’s Get It.” Born in Uptown Manhattan in the ‘80s, this dance has seen its fair share of re-interpretation. And now, thanks to videos like this, I never want to see it again:
Twerking is a true miracle of muscle control:
The ability to move a single buttcheek up and down at will is something a physiologist will have to explain to me. Sadly, stuff like this is working hard to ruin twerking for all of us:
Though I must admit, B.U.T.T. is an undeniably brilliant acronym.
3. Move It Like Bernie
Here’s an example of a dance that was never really cool to begin with, and wore out its welcome simply because it existed:
The Bernie makes the list mostly because it commits the additional crime of ruining Weekend at Bernie’s for us. The upside is, it might be the easiest dance in the world.
4. The Crip Walk
The C-Walk, as it’s often referred to, was extremely popular for a while. Then people realized it was the war dance of L.A.’s most notorious street gang. It’s demise had little to do with the internet, as even Snoop warned against its civilian manifestations: “Quit Crip Walkin’ if you ain’t a gang banger.” Enough said:
However, it did give us the single greatest moment of the London Summer Olympics:
5. The Chicken Noodle Soup
While you were busy watching "The Real World: Denver," some of us were out here “letting it rain” and “clearing it out”:
This is one of the shortest-lived dances on our list, but it’s relevant because school teachers started doing it by the dozens, presumably in an attempt to win over students.
If there’s any correlation between the Chicken Noodle Soup and higher test scores, I’d like to know about it.
6. Ghostride the Whip
I plead guilty on this one. It was 2006, E-40’s “My Ghetto Report Card” was burning up the streets, and videos of people ghostriding (me and my friends included) were everywhere. Sadly, popping your car into “neutral” and dancing alongside as it rolled down the street isn’t as safe as it sounds:
RIP Ghost Ride. You were always a move best left to the pros.
For good measure, I'm throwing in a dance the internet will probably never ruin, mainly because it's too hard for anyone to do.
For your sanity and mine, please don't try any of these at home.