Why I’m glad I made the Harlem Shake

So there I was, blood dripping from my throat, and having the time of my life.

Let me explain.

By the time you read this the Harlem Shake will have moved from ‘hysterically funny’ to ‘pathetically lame’.

Actually, who am I kidding? By the time I made my Harlem Shake video, it was already drifting towards the ‘lame’ category. The speed of memes is something truly to behold.

I first heard of this latest viral sensation when my friend Nat sent me the link to the first of many YouTube videos. My immediate reaction was ‘OMG that is hysterical. We should totally make one!’ In true Natalie fashion, she quickly replied ‘A ZOMBIE ONE!’

And with that, the ball was rolling. Everyone was in. The date was set. Costume make-up was purchased and individual dance moves were workshopped.

It was about then that the anxiety kicked in. Am I really lame for doing this? Is Harlem Shaking still cool? And oh god, WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR?

The Harlem Shake had gone from viral sensation to ‘so passe’ in the space of a few days. With it went my confidence. I’ve always been influenced by what others think – far more than I’d like to admit – and this was no exception. In my mind, we were all playing chicken. Who was going to be the first to say ‘Yeah, this was a pretty bad idea. Let’s just watch movies instead?’

As it turned out, nobody. The Harlem Shaking day arrived. Apprehensive and with an attitude of ‘I’m way too cool for this’ I drove to my friend’s house…

… and was promptly greeted by two fully grown men – one in a chicken suit, and one in a skirt. I realised something important: my friends are awesome people who aren’t afraid to look stupid. 

With that realisation, I got on board. BIG time. With latex, toilet paper, and two different types of fake blood, I went to town dressing up for the Movie of the Year (don’t tell ‘Argo’). A mask was going to cover my face, so I concentrated on my neck, creating a slit in my throat worthy of any slasher film. Hollywood, when you’re ready – I’ll be waiting.

Half an hour, a ruined eyeshadow, and a sink full of fake blood later, we were ready. Zombies, to the dance floor!

We filmed. We edited. We added a soundtrack and put the whole thing on YouTube. There it was – together, we had created a film. It felt like magic.

We grow older, and people come and go. Friendships change, people move away, and all of a sudden life is nothing like it used to be. But looking at the video now, I realised why it was so special.

For one afternoon, we captured something fleeting: our friendship, at this moment in time and impervious to the changes the future holds.

And that’s why I’m glad I made the Harlem Shake.

(That’s me on the left in the gas mask. You can’t even see my awesome make up work. Go figure.)

And then of course, we went to the park and took some photos. As you do.



Nat and Ash


Throat slashPhotos taken by Natalie.


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