Harlem Shake video transforms home

May 24, 2013 — Jeanne Pengelly

West Lake Terrace residents have been taking on their own version of the Internet phenomenon known as the Harlem Shake.

Dubbed the Harlem Shuffle by the staff at the Prince Edward County long-term care home, it was designed to give residents a unique social and physical activity, says life enrichment aide Janie Butler, who dreamed up the idea.

“It’s a social thing, it’s exercise, it’s active range of motion, and any time we can expose the residents to something new and different — especially if it’s something happening outside these four walls,” she says, referring to the Internet craze that made the Harlem Shake videos popular.

The Harlem Shake is an Internet meme — a concept that spreads via the World Wide Web — in this case, in the form of a video.

It was made popular this year after five teenagers from Australia uploaded a video of themselves dancing ridiculously to the Baauer song “Harlem Shake.”

Their video was in response to a similar one posted on You Tube by a vlogger named Filthy Frank.The teenagers’ video went viral and spawned thousands of new videos each day in March.

With familiar tunes playing on the stereo, the sight was almost unimaginable.

Residents in wheelchairs were helped to their feet and hit the dance floor with the encouragement and support of staff members, who appeared to have just as much fun as the residents.

Those who couldn’t walk shuffled in their chairs or joined hands with other residents to chair-dance.

It all lasted the length of two songs — just a short time, like the Harlem Shake videos on the Internet.

“I was inspired partly by my niece and nephew on spring break. They showed me a couple of videos that were popular,” Butler says.

She searched the Internet and found a handful of long-term care homes both sides of the border making similar Harlem Shake videos, so she presented the idea to life enrichment co-ordinator, Julie Clarkson, and the rest just “shook” into place.

West Lake Terrace staff asked residents if they’d like to make dancing a regular activity, and all cheered in agreement.

They’ll consider a full-fledged dance in the future. For now, it’s the Harlem Shuffle that marks the calendar.

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