The craze took over the world and has now entered the doors of Stony Brook. The Harlem Shake hit campus on Wednesday with a bang as nearly 300 people observed and participated in what appeared to be a dance party on the Staller steps.
Students in body suits, horse masks and, in some cases, just their underwear, jumped up and down as they were filmed for the largest Stony Brook Harlem Shake thus far. The masterminds behind the event knew that the lifespan of crazes such as the Harlem Shake and Gangnam Style are very short. Therefore, they had to get the message across fast about their “modern day Macarena” before it went out of style.
“We had to strike while the iron is hot,” Robert Wranovics, a senior double majoring in political science and sociology and the organizer of the event, said.
John Feinberg, a freshman transfer student and undeclared major who helped organize the event, said he and his friend were talking on Facebook when they came up with the idea. Feinberg then created a Facebook event to attract students.
“It was maybe up to 30 people,” he said. “I went to bed and looked at it again and it was 100 people. It just kept going up and up, and eventually [almost] 3,000 people were invited.”
Feinberg said that without social media such as Twitter and Facebook the event would not have grown to the size it was. Word of mouth would not travel fast enough. The Facebook event, titled “SBU Harlem Shake,” currently displays that 699 people went to the event, 218 were undecided and 2,600 in total were invited.
Wranovics knew he wanted this Harlem Shake to be bigger and better than the ones filmed at other universities. He used social media and his connections as the Student Sports Director at WUSB to track Wolfie down.
“It actually started as a direct message on Twitter,” he said. “And then it went to emails and phone calls. Next thing you know we were all set to go.”
Although getting people to show up was a priority for Feinberg and Wranovics, the two main concerns were the weather and legalities. Due to the amount of people expected to be in attendance, police supervised the event to make sure it did not get too out of control.
“I did not want to end up in handcuffs for inciting a riot or something,” Feinberg said.
Feinberg and Wranovics considered the event a huge success due to the appropriate weather conditions and large turnout. They watched their fellow classmates in their finest costumes gather around their friends and dance in what seemed to be a mosh pit of Stony Brook students. Participants not only used original dance moves but also perfected moves such as the “bernie.”
Senior health science major Khaled Salah danced shirtless at the front of the crowd. He said he heard about the Harlem Shake all over the Internet and jumped at the opportunity to partake in the festivities on campus.
“I’ve watched multiple videos and thought it was really fun and would be a really great experience for us to actually be out here at an event that Stony Brook produced,” he said.
The finished video that can be seen on the “SBU Harlem Shake” Facebook page currently has an 8,729 view count that continues to climb due to Twitter and Facebook sharing. Feinberg and Wranovics both agreed that the day was successful was because of the role social media played.
“It’s the way of the 21st Century.…Social media is breaking down the conventional media and the old ways and paving in something new.” Wranovics said.