It begins with one lone dancer, grooving in the middle of a crowd of people. As the music revs up, it’s uncertain what is going to happen—until the beat drops and the entire room joins in on a crazy dance with no rhyme or rhythm. It’s the “Harlem Shake,” a dance phenomenon that has taken the internet by storm. Hundreds of Harlem Shake videos can be found online, posted to YouTube.com by college students, athletic teams, office workers, and even TV news journalists.
Not wanting to miss out on the global phenomenon, Southampton Historical Museum Executive Director Tom Edmonds decided on Friday to join the masses doing the Harlem Shake—by having the museum post its own dance video.
The museum’s video, which was posted on YouTube Friday afternoon, was thrown together quickly, according to Emma Ballou, the museum’s curator and registrar.
“I came into work and Tom said we’re doing a Harlem Shake video,” she said laughing. “I said, ‘How do you even know what that is?’”
According to Ms. Ballou, Mr. Edmonds had seen a story about the trend in the New York Times and decided the museum should take part.
Quickly, Ms. Ballou called up staff members asking them to come in, telling some of them a staff meeting was scheduled.
“We ended up tricking all these people,” she said, adding that some people from the community who happened to be at the museum were also included.
When they arrived, they revealed their intentions and everyone jumped on board.
In two takes, wearing costumes and props from previous events like Harvest Day, the group pulled off a successful Harlem Shake video. Mary Cummings, an archivist at the museum, bounces cooly at the beginning of the video until the music changes and the madness ensues. Mr. Edmonds is suddenly under a white sheet. Ms. Ballou is dressed in a colonial jacket dancing with Sparky, rug hooker Gale Horton’s dog.
“It was a blast and everyone had fun doing it,” Ms. Ballou said, adding that it took her two hours to edit the video. “I watched more Harlem Shake videos than I should have.”