Last Sunday, RISD’s Fleet Library was turned into an rollicking party filled with flying bananas, dancing shark heads and shirtless boxers. And all of the hoopla was caught on camera. 

The absurdly silly flash mob was RISD’s edition of the Harlem Shake, the Internet meme that’s been flooding YouTube’s channels for weeks. In the viral videos, one person (usually helmeted or masked) begins dancing solo for about 15 seconds. When the bass line drops, the video cuts to a crowd showcasing their most spastic dance moves. 

RISD’s version is one of the zaniest out there. After gathering at a nearby dormitory, close to 200 students armed with strange props (like horse head masks, rubber puppets, skiis and oddly-shaped balloons) filed into the library’s ground floor. Once they were in place, uncontrollable shaking commenced. 

Brian Yeo 13 IL and Phillip Im 14 IL organized the event. The duo put a call out on Facebook searching for volunteers and found hundreds of willing participants. “Through word of mouth, it caught a lot of people’s attention,” Yeo explains. “We wanted to represent RISD by being as outrageous as possible. I think we achieved our goal.”

To achieve optimum silliness, students rummaged through closets and studios to find the bizarre objects pictured in the video. “There was this one guy with a huge beard wearing a Viking hat,” Im notes. “I was impressed with his commitment to the cause.”

Miraculously, nothing in the library was disturbed – including the quiet. “We had to abide by the rules,” explains Im. “We were going crazy, but going crazy silently. We didn’t break anything. No one wreaked havoc.”

The illustrators are tickled with the public’s response. After two days, the clip (that took only 20 minutes to edit down) has more than 12,000 views. “Everyone is sharing it with their friends and family,” notes Yeo. “We’re really proud of our RISD community.”