The Harlem Shake – Why? What does it mean?

A student told me yesterday, “Do you want to see my ‘Harlem Shake’ video?”

“No, no, I don’t.  This is class.”
“But it’s so good!” was the student’s protest.

I was told that it’s the next big dance craze, similar to “Gangnum Style.”

What I chose to watch was a video that was on my Youtube homepage that was called, “Harlem’s Response to the Harlem Shakedown.”  They were not pleased.  They said that it was not the “Harlem Shake.”  I’m not familiar with the history of it, but it seems from everyone interviewed in Harlem, there is an official dance style referred to as the “Harlem Shake.”  Their response was that what they were seeing in the videos was just people dry humping each other or having sex with the air.  Oh great, I thought.  So that’s the big thing now, for a room of people to start mocking orgies?  The people from Harlem then demonstrated what they considered to be the “Harlem Shake.”  It reminded me of James Brown moves.  One of the old guys from Harlem said the real “Harlem Shake” came from 1916 and started to sing a song about Harlem.

I then watched a best of the “Harlem Shake” video and the videos were absurdly stupid in my opinion, and yes, it was a bunch of people for the most part humping the air.

So why is this so popular and what involvement, if any, should Christians have in partaking in making such videos?  I got duped into watching a men’s bible study video that actually was a bunch of men making a “Harlem Shake” video.  Why?  Why, label the video a “Men’s Bible Study Video” when it’s a “Harlem Shake” video?  Non-sense!

Anyways, here’s an article on this topic from Christianity Today.  You need to read it before making your own “Harlem Shake” video or sharing “Harlem Shake” videos on-line or “liking” “Harlem Shake” videos.  Take the time to do so please.

“The Problem of Christians Doing the Harlem Shake”

Published by

Andy Wrasman

I live in Lilburn, GA, with my wife and two young kids. I am a pastor at Oak Road Lutheran Church. I've written a book called, Contradict - They Can't All Be True. Be sure to visit my other website:

7 thoughts on “The Harlem Shake – Why? What does it mean?

  1. The whole purpose of the dance isn’t to just dry hump the air. The Harlem shake is pretty much one person who dances, and then everyone joins in the chorus. It’s all about being random and funny. Yes, dry humping is what a lot of the people do, but not to be sexual. It’s just to be as random as possible. I think that if you are innocently just doing the dance without bad intentions, then it’s ok. Just like how I think it’s ok to participate in Halloween. Most Christian parents don’t allow their kids to, due to the pagan underoots. But I think that as long as your dressing up just for fun and to get candy, it’s all innocent. I do agree with you though on the mens bible study….in that sense it is mocking God completely.

  2. I never allowed either of my oldest 23 and now youngest 18 yr old children go trick or treat..i think it means what it mens. I explain it to them, we do something else that day and we dont dishonor God..i mean for goodness sakes , if satan has a service where u dress up, and get and give candy, celebrating fear …in a fun way?!…thatsthe treat with the trick..hmmm….i just chose not to glorify death and wickedness no matter how much fun he made it…it was hard sometime though. I dont buy candy or bleafing bubble gum eyes , bor sweet gutts to give out nor did i express sheer fleshly weakness by not being able to resist ONE day that was clearly designed to get people to worship what the enemy represents..i just could never see it for anything less…no judgement to anyone who feel its ok..but we succumb to CANDY?..We cant resist for ONE day?…if we participate..we encourage and suppirt and strengthen its mission.

  3. It seems as though people ignore the fact that “with the terrorists” is said several times in the video. How do we condone this as Americans regardless of whether we are Christians or not.

  4. *facepalm* It’s a dance. I’ve seen the real Harlem Shake and yes, it’s vastly different than what we are seeing now a days. It was not created in 1918, it’s a 1980’s dance originally name albee. Anyhow, history aside, Baauer’s song should have nothing to do with the dance itself.

    I could NEVER understand Christians issues with Halloween. They stole every other holiday from the pagans and yet THIS one, because it honors the dead, is Satanic? Guess child abuse comes in all forms 😛

  5. Hearing about Harlem Shake at first, I really thought it came from the place Harlem (like Gangnam Style). Then I received text messages saying HARLEM is inverted MELRAH, the Egyptian term for ‘son of the devil’. I do not know the truth about this, but i am skeptical.

    With halloween as a pagan celebration: it is reality that nearly all Christian holidays came from Paganism(transmogrification). However they do not always mean ‘Satanic’. The idea of Christmas on December 25 is actually a Pagan one, but i do not actually think that one who celebrates Christmas is Satanic.

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