February 23, 2013
For about 15 seconds on Pikes Peak Avenue in downtown Colorado Springs, there was an eruption of wildness, a burst of human energy so strong and strange it had bystanders bewitched.
A colorful clump of about 200 people of all ages, dressed like Mardi Gras, engaged for the briefest of moments Saturday in unrestrained boogie — their arms flailing, their hips churning, their feet stomping.
“What was that?” asked one incredulous onlooker at the intersection of Tejon Street and Pikes Peak.
“Harlem Shake,” someone answered.
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“I knew it!” she said.
It was, as organizer Ben Jourdan put it: “people coming downtown and doing something really stupid for a minute, and then going shopping.”
Said 35-year-old LaVonn Phillips: “You don’t have to be afraid to have fun in a different way. If you have to put a mask on, put a mask on and just do it.”
The Harlem Shake originated in 1981 in Harlem, New York
Its dormant popularity really took off as an Internet sensation in February. The dance has inspired more than 130,000 videos on the website Youtube.com.
Today, it’s all over the Internet, spawning replications worldwide.
Basically, one person starts to dance alone while wearing a mask or helmet, surrounded by others. Then, for 15 seconds, the group joins in, wearing costumes, masks, hats and wielding props.
It is, said Jourdan, an employee at El Pomar Foundation, “goofiness.”
One man wore a green body suit, others wore buffalo head hats, crazy glasses, colorful wigs and masks.
The lead dancer of the Colorado Springs version was Kevin Hopkins, a radio personality known as Cheeba on 96.1, The Beat.
“I guess you’d call me the lead,” he said. “They’re just fun. It exudes who I am.”
Among the dancers was Wyatt Grueter, 9, outfitted in a purple wig. His mother, Xanthe Cook, 33, and brother, Alliah Grueter, 13, also shook things up.
Alliah said he found Harlem Shake videos online, showed his mom, and Thursday night they spawned yet another video of the dance.
“I was the most pumped up,” Wyatt said. “We saw it on Facebook and just came out here to do it.”