At first I didn’t get it and decided that I didn’t like it. I tried to ignore it but it was everywhere. Eventually it made me giggle. Now it makes me laugh out loud and I have to admit that I find it hilarious. Even the music, which when I first heard it sounded as wild and disjointed as the Harlem Shake itself is now strangely upbeat and dare I say it – addictive?
There is no denying that the Harlem Shake is an internet sensation. No doubt like other dance sensations, it will eventually die out. Do you remember the “Macarena” or Madonna’s “Vogue”? Maybe you just don’t want to. The difference here is that the Harlem Shake involves a lot more people and its spread as a result of the internet has been nothing short of phenomenal.
A mere glance at Youtube will reveal hundreds of examples of people all over the world doing the Harlem Shake. People are “shaking” at home, in the streets, in their offices, in schools and in parks. I have even seen videos of people doing the Harlem Shake in Prison. There is no denying its popularity. It appears to be the height of spontaneous fun and self expression.
The other day I was walking past University College, located just down the road from Saracens offices in Central London when I saw hundreds of students dancing, waving and shaking. Although the whole thing looked wonderful, it did not look particularly safe.
Watching them, I observed the amount of organisation and micro management needed to produce a Harlem Shake video. How ironic I thought. Something whose popularity has grown as a result of its perceived spontaneity is in reality so heavily and delicately stage managed. I had been thinking of organising a Harlem Shuffle at Saracens offices and for the first time, I started to think about what that would involve and concluded that for all these Harlem Shake videos, safety was of paramount importance.
So, of course if you love your dancing and the Harlem Shake (and naturally I assume that you do otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog) there are a few words of wisdom that I, as a personal injury lawyer would ask that you consider if you are planning to create your own version or even if you are participating in someone else’s:
1. Wear the right footwear. Wearing high heels on an uneven or extra smooth floor is naturally riskier than wearing lower heeled shoes.
2. Make sure that all surfaces are clear and free of obstruction.
3. Make sure that all participants know exactly what they are doing and the area in which they will be “shaking” in order to avoid collisions or flailing accidents.
4. Don’t attempt overly physical or demanding dance moves. The propensity for pulling a muscle or damaging yourself whilst attempting a back flip should not be ignored.
5. Make sure the floor surface is even and free from spillages.
6. Slippery floors are also hazardous in that they can cause you to move in an awkward way, leading to possible muscle strain, pulls or other injuries.
7. Don’t overcrowd the area in which you are “shaking”
If, even after all this, you find yourself hurt or seriously injured whilst participating in one of these group dances, you should be aware that depending on where the event is taking place, most venues will have public and personal injury liability insurance cover.
Many dance studios, organisations, football clubs and employers in large companies today are allowing their members to freely perform the Harlem Shake. They do not realise that they are exposing themselves to the risk of a Personal Injury claim. I saw a “Harlem Shake” video the other day as performed by the players at Manchester City Football Club. It made me laugh out loud but once again I was struck by the idea that because the Harlem Shake is such a fun concept, people overlook or fail to consider the risks to their own health.
I love a good boogie as much as the next gal. I aim to participate in my first “Harlem Shake” video this weekend. So while I advocate that you all go out there and enjoy your “Harlem Shake” with your friends, family and colleagues do be aware of the associated risks and hazards.
Write to me here now at Saracens, send me your Harlem Shake videos and share with me your experiences of being a “Harlem Shaker”.