An inside look at the Harlem Shake flashmob

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Last semester, we got a much anticipated Cal “Gangnam Style” flash mob with Mario, Luigi and Toad sexying it up on Upper Sproul. So obviously, we needed another flash mob soon for whatever video would go viral next — and of course a trio of stellar Cal students delivered by organizing the next big thing: The “Harlem Shake.”

In a nutshell, “Harlem Shake” videos have about 15 seconds of a calm, orderly environment where a lone figure starts busting some dance moves while others move on with their lives. Then suddenly there’s a deep-voiced, “DO THE HARLEM SHAKE” and the scene changes instantaneously to a mass of writhing, costumed, self-expressive people doing whatever the hell they want. Interpretative dancing with a ratchet twist.

So juniors Kevin Pamplona and Melvin Garcia, along with a mysterious sophomore who goes by the alias Stryker and was last seen donning a sombrero and “V for Vendetta” mask, decided to bring “Harlem Shake” to campus and literally shake things up — but this time not on the anticipated Upper Sproul but in Doe Library’s North Reading Room. Why? Because, according to Stryker, Pamplona was studying there one day and then thought this “iconic library would be more representative of Berkeley” because the shots change from studious students to an explosion of students who know how to have a good time.

Inspired by other schools’ and groups’ own “Harlem Shake” videos, the trio set up the flash mob event page on Facebook and nervously waited for people to click “Going.” First night: only about 100 students. But Facebook accomplished its task, and several nights later, more than 1,200 Cal students had agreed to participate in this awesome flash mob. Earlier today, it was 2:05 p.m., and in front of Doe were packs of pink-tulle dressed princesses complete with crowns, Pokemon in golden cheetah-print leotards, a Communist leader with a cigar and American flag towel, and a chunky neon orange horse (to name a few).

And there you have it, the one opportunity to legally stand up and dance on the library desks and chairs, popping your chest and shaking your hips to a perfectly positioned camera in front of the room. Yes, that was a wig flying across the room. Oh look, a random someone is humping a soft toy. And boy, we loved every minute of it. There were also multitudes of folks standing off to the side, snapping photos and videos to immortalize this moment on their iPhones, Galaxy S3s and iPads. It was no more than five minutes of dancing before students proceeded to carefully and in an impressively organized manner exit the library while the students who were actually studying resumed without batting an eyelash.

What’s going to be next, Cal?

Image source: Eunice Choi, The Daily Californian