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Harlem Shake strikes academic quad

By Andrew Ta     2/20/13 6:00pm

The catchy beat of recent viral hit Harlem Shake by Baauer permeated the warm air in Rice University's academic quadrangle Feb. 17. More than 1,000 Rice students, some lured by rumors that sprinter Usain Bolt would make a showing, came to the impromptu recording of the popular meme, according to event organizer Clayton Chaney. 

Chaney, a Will Rice College senior, said he organized the event because he thought it would be a cool thing for Rice to do after seeing the video from other schools. 

"It was Friday night, and I was sitting in my room watching all these other schools doing this Harlem Shake thing, so I thought, 'Let's see if we can get Rice to do it, too," Chaney said. "I think what really helped was that my friend knew [Bolt] and Wallace Spearmon really well, and they were in town because of the All-Star game, so he invited them to come." 

Chaney said he enjoyed the event and felt it brought the university together. 

"What I'm really happy about is that the whole community, athletes, President [David] Leebron, came together for a non-alcoholic event," Chaney said. "Everyone came together and had fun. I heard everything was canceled for it, from intramural games to study sessions in Fondren [Library]. It was just a neat event for the Rice community. I'm happy it went well." 

Hanszen College junior Mike Schubert said the event would have gone more smoothly if the issues that appeared had been taken care of beforehand. 

"It would have been better if they had the camera set up [and] ready to go before the event started," Schubert said. "And there was the issue about getting onto the top of Fondren. [If they had done it] before everyone was there, they could have adjusted accordingly." 

Schubert said that despite Bolt's absence, he still had fun at the event. 

"I feel that most of us knew it was a slim chance [Bolt] was actually going to show up, but having the fastest man in the world would have been legendary," Schubert said. "However, [Spearmon] is still a phenomenal athlete, so having him there was great." 

According to Chaney, Bolt was originally supposed to make an appearance but, at the last minute, could not appear because his contract required him to sign autographs at the Toyota Center. 

"I wasn't lying," Chaney said. "I felt bad because I kind of led everyone on. In a way, I'm kind of glad because I don't think we could have taken a realistic video [if he had come]. Even with just [Spearmon] there, everyone was mobbing him, and it was just crazy." 

Martel College freshman David Lam said he thought the video could have done with a lot of improvement. 

"The beginning part was not representative of Rice at all," Lam said. "Swole guys, a DJ and a chick in a bikini in the middle of the quad. They should have gotten more people in the video with a wider view, showcasing the ... Sallyport and Willy's statue. The transitions from viewpoint to viewpoint were really annoying and weren't fitting of the nature of a Harlem Shake video." 

Chaney said he believed the final video product was the best that could be done with the footage. 

"I really didn't expect so many people to show up," Chaney said. "I was kind of overwhelmed. We couldn't really shoot it exactly how the Harlem Shake video is. We tried our best. Shoutouts to [Spearmon] for showing up and to the kid who fell over the hedges in the video." 

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