Kent State groups offer their take on the Harlem Shake

Bryan Webb

Be it done in a house, an arena, an airport, underwater or in a nursing home, everyone is catching onto the Harlem Shake.

“It’s a 30 second video where 15 seconds is a guy wearing a helmet or a mask and everybody’s ignoring him,” said Greg Bryan, director for NAVS. “And then the second 15 seconds, the whole crowd behind him breaks out into just crazy dancing.”

Bryan said he first saw the “Shake” in a news video with his wife. He said she suggested Bryan create one with his on-campus Christian group called NAVS. He took her advice, and informed his group’s members of the idea. The next night, everyone showed up to the group’s meeting with props in hand, ready to go.

Since posting their video just over a week ago, it has received more than 14,000 views on YouTube.

Bryan said what makes this viral meme so appealing is that they’re easy to make and easy to watch because they’re so short. That is exactly why Kent Interhall Council’s Lil Sib’s committee decided to take on the Harlem Shake.

“We decided on Friday morning we wanted to do one spur of the moment,” Danielle Melidona, junior interpersonal communications studies major, said. “We just put it all together within like an hour or something.”

Melidona, vice president of KIC, said some students who were coming into their office to pick up care packages joined them.

“We’re like ‘come in here, we’re filming!’” Melidona said, “and so it was something that was a lot of fun.”

Their video has become so popular that members of KIC’s general council have reached out to her, asking to do another one. It has also caught the attention of other universities.

“We are very involved with other universities across the country,” Melidona said. “Rutgers University saw it, and they were really excited, and they wanted to try it with their residence hall association, as well.”

Jason Kilbane, freshman theatre studies major, scheduled an impromptu Shake video on the fourth floor of the library on Feb. 18. It wasn’t until his cousin encouraged him to make his own version that Kilbane decided to give it a shot. He logged onto Facebook, created an event and invited everyone he knew, including those who didn’t even attend Kent State.

The Kent Stater newsroom performed its own take on the popular meme.

“That entire day I was really nervous ‘cause the event had my name on it,” Kilbane said. “I knew if anything got broken it would come back to me.”

Fortunately, Kilbane said nothing was damaged, and the flash mob of students with props went off as planned.

Kilbane said he thinks this meme is so fascinating because of the way people try to out-do others with comedy and with the number of people in each video.

As for the future of the Harlem Shake, Melidona said she isn’t holding her breath.

“I think it’s going to stick around for maybe the next couple of weeks, and then it will disappear,” Melidona said. “The next new thing will start up again, and something else will become viral, and everyone will want to do that.”

Contact Bryan Webb at [email protected].