Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

Dancing With The Shakes

on February 22, 2013


I have seen a lot of hoopla in cyberspace lately about a new video dance craze called the “Harlem Shake.”  I checked it out on YouTube and sat in confusion as I browsed through nine or ten of the videos.  I had been expecting some kind of choreographed dance routine; what I saw were groups of people, dressed in bizarre costumes, gyrating around and looking like Mexican jumping beans.

I researched this “dance” and found that it was originally a hip hop style of dancing that started in the late 1980’s.  It was very different from the ridiculous movements I saw on the videos.  There is no comparison.

I guess it’s a lot of fun for the participants to make these obnoxious videos and the viewers enjoy watching a large number of people making asses out of themselves.  That  would account for the massive number of people making these “Harlem Shake” videos go viral.

I waltzed out of YouTube, sat back and remembered the real dancers of the past.  The dancers that could mesmerize you with their graceful moves or hypnotize you with their complicated footwork.  When dancing was real and took talent to perform.

Those were also the days where dancer’s ruled the movie musicals.  Fred Astaire gliding across the floor with a beautiful Ginger Rogers at his side.  Dennis O’Connor tapping his way into our hearts and Gene Kelly stealing those hearts with his smooth moves.

My hometown of Black Rock, Ct. had a place called the “Ritz Ballroom.”  The Ritz would feature top artists such as Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman and The Andrew Sister’s.  During World War II, dancers would pack the ballroom and my Mom and Dad were two of them.  My mother would tell me the stories of dancing with my dad until the wee hours of the morning; doing the samba, the jitterbug and the Lindy.  Sadly, the Ritz Ballroom closed in the late sixties and transformed into a furniture store.

My generation watched as these dances slowly faded from view.  We embraced Rock and Roll and slowly separated from our dancing partners.  The Stroll, the Locomotion, and the Twist took over and we no longer needed a partner to dance to those.  We got out on the floor and just did our thing.  Television shows like “The Dick Clark Show” and “Hullabaloo” rocked our world.

Movies like “Saturday Night Fever” and “Dirty Dancing” brought some romance back to the dance floor but alas, today the majority of people can still leave their partner at home and dance the night away alone.

I was so happy to see a show like “Dancing With The Stars” bring back the great dances of the “Swing” era.  I think the popularity of the show speaks for itself.  People still want to see those couples dance like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; they watch with awe as dancer’s once again perform the Lindy and the Jitterbug.  And, why?  Because these dances have class and are timeless.

So, forgive me if I don’t appreciate the new trend of embarrassing yourself in a video by looking like someone going through the D.T’s.  I’ll take real dancing any day.  And, if you think that I’m just being “Cranky,” listen to what people from Harlem think of this new trend.

11 responses to “Dancing With The Shakes

  1. Basharr says:

    It is strange but I doubt these people feel embarrassed with these so called dances. Dance to me has always been an art and over the years we have seen some masterpieces and as with these videos (Yes I did some researching as well) we have seen some finger painting. My wife is a big Fan of Dirty Dancing and Saturday Night Fever I myself have to say times have changed and in some ways not for the best..

  2. Thank you for this !! I so enjoyed watching the video….:0)

  3. mewhoami says:

    I had never heard of the Harlem Shake before reading this post. Now due to some very entertaining and a few disturbing YouTube videos, I now know what the original Harlem Shake looks like compared to the highly creative new version. Somehow, I feel strangely enlightened.

  4. Aurora says:

    I think this often happens whenever something gets labeled the next big thing. It gets cheapened and then he cheap imitation gets driven into the ground. It last until there is another next big thing to replace it. Moving on…

  5. Susan Norden says:

    I finally looked up this dance and played a few videos of it. If anything, it looks like a good workout. Yet not for me. 🙂

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