Viral video trend 'shakes up' Penn campus


Students at Penn have made at least six different Harlem Shake videos


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A group of students dance in Harrison College House’s Heyer Sky Lounge on Saturday to create their version of a Harlem Shake video.

Photo by Laura Anthony


Penn has jumped on the spontaneous dance party, hip-thrusting, crazy costume, viral video bandwagon that is the Harlem Shake.

Students at Penn have made at least six different Harlem Shake videos, and another is set to hit the internet soon.

“As Penn students, we especially like them because the absurd is what helps us de-stress,” said College and Wharton sophomore Igor Baran, who organized a Harlem Shake filming in the Heyer Sky Lounge of Harrison College House on Saturday.

The video purported to be the “original” Harlem Shake was posted to YouTube on Feb. 2, and already has over nine million views. Other versions have broken the 10 million mark in the past two weeks.

Baran coordinated the event with the Harrison College House staff and started off the video wearing a horse mask and dancing on a small ottoman while the rest of the students pretended not to notice, in typical Harlem Shake fashion.

College freshman Daniel Vallejo brought along a broom as his prop, riding it “like a horse” in the second half of the video, he said.

Vallejo believes the videos are well-suited for college campuses because most people might expect college students to be “crazy studious,” but the Harlem Shake videos show them being spontaneous and ridiculous in an otherwise serious, academic setting.

That unexpected juxtaposition is exactly what inspired the Harlem Shake video that was filmed in the Fisher Fine Arts library on Friday.

“My friend and teammate on the track team [Wharton freshman] Brendan Smith mentioned that it would be hilarious to do a Harlem Shake in Fisher Fine Arts because it’s always so serious and solemn in there,” Engineering freshman Will Meadows, who helped organize the Shake, said in an email.

Meadows posted the video to YouTube and set up the Facebook event, after gathering support from his friends on the track team and some of the brothers of Phi Gamma Delta, the fraternity he is currently pledging.

“We didn’t exactly get permission, but we were quiet so the only rule we broke was standing on the tables, I guess. The staff was surprised, but I think they enjoyed it,” Meadows said.

Baran said he has seen a number of the other Harlem Shake videos created by Penn students, and agreed that the one in Fisher Fine Arts was well done.

“Making a really classy lounge or an Ivy League library absurd is really funny,” he said.

Meadows and Vallejo both agree that the underwater Harlem Shake made by the swim team at the University of Georgia is their favorite version so far. Vallejo said that other videos seem to just imitate each other, but that particular one had an entirely new concept.

“I think college campuses are the perfect place to organize one,” Meadows said. “Where else can you easily find a big group of people willing to go completely insane for 15 seconds?”

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