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Stanford catches ‘Harlem Shake’ fever

Everybody’s seen the video. Surrounded by people going about their everyday lives, one masked dancer pumps to Baauer’s sudden hit. The music drops, and everything goes crazy.

The viral sensation, which spawned over 40,000 imitations, has become immensely popular at Stanford as well, with student groups posting at least 15 versions of the video online.

The Class of 2016 has been the most active, with several freshman dorms filming versions of the video. Surprisingly, however, it wasn’t always the freshmen that led the shenanigans.

“We did the Harlem Shake video because my SLERT (SLE resident tutor) said that he wanted to make a video, and I decided to organize [the Harlem Shake],” said Liam Kinney ‘Dan16.

Kinney rallied fellow Structured Liberal Education (SLE) students and helped shoot the video, which featured a lecture and a prominently placed pink bathrobe.

When he is not choreographing, Kinney is a Daily staffer.

Despite the craze’s sensational nature, SLE students attributed great depth and meaning to the 30-second video clips.

“The dance felt like a living embodiment of random Brownian motion,” said Noah Friedman ’16. “[I had] never felt so alive, part of an organism, living, pulsating, shaking—Harlem Shaking.”

To The Daily’s knowledge, Gregory Watkins ’85 Ph.D. ’03, SLE assistant director, is the only faculty member to join in on the Harlem Shake. Watkins explained that he was impressed by the excitement generated by the video.

“The experience was fun,” he said. “When I watch it, I enjoy it, just because it shows a sense of spirit.”

Otero, a freshman dorm in Wilbur, made a video of its own, one of the few to feature almost an entire a residence hall. Kevin Hurlbutt ’14, an Otero resident assistant, said that he suggested making a video because of how entertaining Harlem Shake clips were.

“I thought it was the funniest thing that I had seen,” he said. “I had personally found out about the video craze, and then I decided to organize one for Otero. We filmed last Wednesday, and it got us great attendance at dorm meeting.”

The Stanford men’s gymnastics team posted one of Stanford’s most popular spin-offs. The video, featuring suspended gymnasts and a fly-by on a bike, had secured almost 7,000 views at time of publication.

“We, like everyone else, saw the videos being posted and realized that the gym would be cool,” said Jordan Nolff ’14, one of the team’s captains. “It was a lot of fun making it and thinking of the wackiest things we could do. We tried to get a golf cart to drive in the gym but couldn’t find one and decided to use a bike instead.”

The most viewed and oldest clip—the Stanford Harlem Shakes—was performed at Dance Marathon and mustered almost 10,000 views. The video was part of Dance Marathon’s publicity campaign for the event, which ultimately raised over $60,000 to combat HIV/AIDS.

About Nitish Kulkarni

Nitish is a Deputy Desk Editor at The Stanford Daily. He is a sophomore majoring in Mechanical Engineering, and he is interested in writing about technology and research.