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Dancing with the Morons
Perspective on the News
Saturday, March 16, 2013
J.L. Robb

Have you seen the Harlem Shake? I didn’t say, “Did you see Harlem shake?” This is not an earthquake!

I learned about this phenom a couple of weeks ago and can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it.  It’s a dance, at least that’s what they call it.  Looks more like group seizures to me, but who am I to judge?

When I was a kid, my parents had a young lady who would stay with me in the afternoons after school until my parents got home from work.  I remember very little about her except that she didn’t dance, it was against her religion.  Is dancing looked down upon by God?

"And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod." 2 Samuel 6:14 (KJV)

"Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs" Psalm 150:4 (KJV)

"A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." Ecclesiastes 3:4 (KJV)

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)

Apparently God is not against dancing under at least some circumstances.  If one dances to glorify God, that seems acceptable as indicated by David’s quote in 2 Samuel above when he and the other Children of Israel celebrated the recovery of the Ark of the Covenant.

Unfortunately much of today’s dancing is not for Divine Glorification, nor was much of yesteryear’s.  As a young student of the 1960s, we danced a lot; but it was never to glorify anything, much less the Lord.  I imagine when we did the Jerk, the Twist, the Mashed Potato, the Swim, the Monster Mash and the Wah Wahtusi we probably looked like we were having seizures too, especially with the Jerk.

The Harlem shake, not to be confused with the Harlem Shuffle, was introduced in 1981 by a resident of Harlem named “Al B.”  The dance was originally called the albee, but as the dance picked up momentum it became known as the Harlem shake.  The dance originated in Harlem and is based on the Eskista, an East African dance, according to Al B. Since its birth the Harlem shake has become one of the most popular submissions on youtube.com.

Al B states that the dance is "a drunken shake anyway, it's an alcoholic shake, but it's fantastic, everybody appreciates it."  He claims the dance came from the ancient Egyptians and describes it as what the mummies used to do.  Since the mummies were all wrapped up and couldn’t move, they could only shake.  The dance’s popularity gained pace in 1981 when performed at the Entertainer’s Basketball Classic and began to spread like wildfire.

The Harlem shake is often associated with a dance called 'The Chicken Noodle Soup' that became popular in the summer of 2006 by the artists DJ Webstar and Young B.  In February 2013, the "Harlem Shake" went viral and became another youtube.com sensation.

Why do we dance?  Infants at an early age can bounce to the beat of the music.  Is it inherent in our genetic makeup?  Why don’t other animals dance?

Other animals do dance in carefully choreographed mating rituals; but dogs, cats, chimpanzees and most other animals don’t seem to be able to pick up the beat in music.  Birds are an exception, as seen in this video of Snowball the Cockatoo: Snowball Dancing to Back Street Boys.  As a matter of fact, if you search youtube.com for dancing cockatoos and parrots, you will be thoroughly amazed.

In 2012 the Gangnam Style dance out of South Korea became so popular it was the first youtube video to receive a billion hits.  As of March 13th there were 1.4 billion hits.  In September 2012, "Gangnam Style" was recognized by Guinness World Records as the most "liked" video on YouTube.

I don’t know what makes these dances such fads, but everyone seems to be having a good time.  I did find some vulgar videos of the Harlem shake, but I think vulgar videos are available for most all dances of the last 50 years.  Is the dance harmless?  Maybe, maybe not.

One of the most recent Harlem shake demonstrations was on a Frontier Airlines plane at 30,000 feet, organized by a group of Colorado college students.  As in all Harlem shake dances, a single dancer, usually wearing a helmet or mask, stands up alone and begins gyrating, or something.  Kind of looks like gyrations.  Soon a bunch of other people stand up and join in.  Each person does “his own thing,” and there seems to be no specific routine or dance steps.  You just stand up, gyrate and shake, move in circles and spin and… well, it looks like seizures or some kind of stressful disorder.  How safe could it be at an altitude of 30,000 feet to have all the uneven weight distribution and bouncing of a large group of healthy college kids?

The Bible has many mentions of dancing, and most are positive.  In the case of John the Baptist, dancing resulted in his death.

Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.”  Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.

On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted and had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.  Matthew 14: 3-12 NIV

About J.L. Robb

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