Chancellor says don’t, but Harlem Shake still sweeps UNL

By Maricia Guzman

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman isn’t down with the Harlem Shake.

In fact he says “don’t” to the whole ordeal.


But his disapproval hasn’t stopped hundreds of UNL students — and even Head Football Coach Bo Pelini — from making their own Harlem Shake videos on and off campus.

The Harlem Shake videos begin with someone calling out “Con los terroristas!” Followed by a heavy, pulsating, infectious beat courtesy of New York based DJ, Baauer.

The videos feature someone dancing or pelvic thrusting by themselves in the middle of a group of people who seem to be completely unaware of the craziness in front of them.

The lone dancer typically goes at it for 20 seconds and then there is a sudden jump cut (which would make most broadcasting professors cringe) and in an instant the entire group is dancing like maniacs, as the music “drops.”

Some dancers wear full body costumes like hotdogs or stretchy spandex suits or motorcycle helmets or horse heads.

The ridiculousness only lasts for 10 seconds but it’s the anticipation of what unique shenanigans the group can concoct that keeps people coming back for more.

The UNL men’s gymnastics team’s Harlem Shake video made national news in the Huffington Post and was picked up by celebrity personality, Perez Hilton. The video has had over 1 million views on YouTube.

Gabriel Jolly, a sophomore member of the team is the “featured dancer” at the beginning of the video.

“I’m usually always dancing in the gym and I guess the guys like the way I dance, so that’s why I was chosen to dance alone,” Jolly said.

Jolly said the idea to make a video came from some of the team members and the media specialist for the team. They used the video to show the team’s fun side while promoting an upcoming meet.

Jolly said the video took about an hour to make.

“Now when I go to class, people I’ve never talked to before come up and tell me that they’ve seen it,” Jolly said. “Even teachers have seen it.”

Jolly is originally from Utah and said that all his friends and family back home have seen his moves featured in the video and now so have thousands of people all over the U.S.

So, where did the Harlem Shake come from?

According to a National Public Radio article the Harlem Shake is actually a dance move invented by a street dancer named Al B. Supposedly, he used the dance to entertain crowds at a popular basketball tournament in Harlem.

The dance went mainstream when rapper P. Diddy used the move in some of his music videos.


Earlier this year, the dance was “revived” into the YouTube meme.

But how and why do these kinds of things become so popular?

According to UNL Social Media Specialist Tyler Thomas, it’s all about simplicity.

“Unlike flashmobs, these videos don’t take a lot of time, they don’t need to be high quality and can include the entire group,” Thomas said.

Thomas also said the videos can be great marketing tools, especially in the case of the men’s gymnastics team. He said it was a way to show off what they can do behind the scenes.

“The videos are really cool because they show off the culture of the campus and all the different groups,” Thomas said.

(Below are some Harlem Shake videos made at UNL)




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