Your aunt, the one who forwards you the chain emails and calls it “the Google,” knows what the Harlem Shake is. Your 7-year-old niece knows what the Harlem Shake is. The least cool person you have ever met probably knows what the Harlem Shake is. This is because — and I’m sorry to break it to those of you who gathered to perform it in Dupont Circle yesterday — the Harlem Shake is dead.
This penguin version of the meme, which was hosted by the dance studio Jordin’s Paradise at the Dupont fountain, is not the last D.C. Harlem Shake you will see. This weekend also bore witness to a Chinatown Harlem “Sheikh” organized by the “D.C. Muslim Hipsters” Facebook group, though the video doesn’t appear to be available yet. Facebook and Twitter reveal three more flash mobs ahead of us, so here’s where to avoid if you loathe the beating-a-dead-horse, halfhearted effort to replicate any popular meme weeks after it’s trended, like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy. (Or, alternatively, if you “hate fun,” as some might allege in the comments.)
- This Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Lincoln Memorial at 3 p.m. (Potentially to be followed by a gathering at McFaddens, which should tell you a lot).
- June (JUNE!) 1, at the White House. “This will go viral on YouTube,” writes the organizer. The Harlem Shake may be dead, but at least its body is still warm. Can you imagine how dead it will be by June? It would be like someone planning a “Call Me Maybe” lip-synch video for next week and expecting it to still go viral.
When did the Harlem Shake, only weeks old, die? The Atlantic pinpoints the exact moment: When the Today Show did an utterly embarrassing Valentine version of it. The hosts “committed meme murder,” wrote David Wagner, and the Daily Beast filled in with all of the other memes the morning show has slaughtered: Gangnam Style, the aforementioned “Call Me Maybe,” and Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”
But you can always count on D.C. to be even later than the meme-killing Today Show in its rendition of any given trend. Our best D.C. Gangnam Style parody hit YouTube in November, fully four months after the K-Pop song hit our shores. As for Harlem Shake videos, there is only one that is worthy of your time: