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Students from Tunis Carthage Private University participate in a flash mob dance based on a new dance craze, the "Harlem Shake", outside the university in Tunis

Just when the Gangnam Style craze began to fizzle, and we thought that the world would be spared another viral dance phenomenon, enter the Harlem Shake.   It began as a 2012 heavy bass instrumental music track produced by Baauer, the stage name of American music producer Harry Rodrigues,  uploaded to YouTube in August 2012.  In early February 2013,  a 31-second video produced in Australia was posted on YouTube, featuring a masked individual dancing alone in a group – and the others, in a crude video cut, jumping in to join him.  That video inspired others, and still others.

The fad has now spread across the Atlantic to Europe and the Middle East, where it has been picked up by Tunisians and Egyptians as means of social protest.  Recently, protesters did the Harlem Shake outside ruling Islamists’ headquarters in Cairo. Religious conservatives are infuriated by the craze, considering the dance to be an obscene export from the West, and this has led to clashes in both countries.

Love it or hate it, the Harlem Shake shows no signs slowing any time soon.  From Marrakesh to Muscat, Arab youths are donning masks and shaking it up.  Middle East Voices presents select samples from across the region.  And rest assured, another trend appears to be on the way:  Goat Editions.  Stay tuned…














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Cecily Hilleary

Cecily began her reporting career in the 1990s, covering US Middle East policy for Dubai-TV English. She has lived and/or worked in the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf regions, consulting and producing for several regional radio and television networks and production houses, including MBC, Al-Arabiya, the former Emirates Media Incorporated and Al-Ikhbaria. She brings to VOA and MEV a keen understanding of the region's top social, cultural and political issues.

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