File this under "Those Crazy College Kids."
Just before midnight Tuesday, a dance party broke out at the undergraduate library at UNC Chapel Hill. You may have seen the video. It's gotten quite a lot of buzz this week.
I spoke with Bobby Nieland, one of the masterminds of this crazy event. Here's what he had to say:
News & Observer: So where did this idea come from?
Bobby Nieland: On Halloween a similar event occurred. A group of guys got a Facebook thing together. They had everyone just freeze what they were doing in the Pit here at UNC right at noon. Everyone just froze, wherever they were. There''s this website called "Improve Everywhere" that was the inspiration for it. Everyone did that on Halloween. So our Bell Tower here on campus tolls 12 times at noon, so everyone froze for that and then continued on doing what they were doing.
So you take idea, and then push it forward for the dance party?
BN: Yes, in the Undergraduate Library, or the UL, we like to call it, every year since 1970, on the day before finals start a group of streakers run through the library. That was a big inspiration for us. That happened Thursday last week. So me and my two buddies were sitting in the UL last Tuesday (the week prior) and quite spontaneously decided to see if we could organize a flash dance in the Undergraduate Library.
So we decided the easiest way to reach a bunch of people is Facebook these days. So I created a Facebook event. All three of us became administrators of the event and invited everyone we knew at UNC. In the first 48 hours we have right around 400 people confirmed to come to the event.
In total, we reached 2600 people.
N&O: So that's how many took part?
BN: A ballpark guess that a lot of people have given us is that about 700 people were there. The place was packed.
N&O: So how much specific planning was done for it?
BN: Well, the description for the event was about a page long, the directions to everybody. In essence it was just this: At 11:55 p.m. on Tuesday we wanted everyone, wherever they were at the library to stop what they're doing. We'd start the music at 11:55. They'd just stop what they're doing. They know about this but they'd pretend they didn't know. And then we'd have a flash dance. We'd all just dance in the lobby. One of our other friends is a DJ. He mixed a track together for us that's about 13 minutes long. It's six songs spliced together.
N&O: So this was a 13-minute event?
BN: Well, it went about 9 minutes and then we pulled the plug. We didn't want it to get out of hand. That was more crowd-surfing that I've ever seen at an event.
N&O: Is the library usually that busy that night during finals?
BN: No, it is not. The whole idea of the event to look natural was ruined a little because at about 11:15, groups of four and five students started coming in and the noise level kept increasing. By 11:45 people were just streaming in. We told people to go into side rooms and stay clear of the lobby.
N&O: What did you use for a sound system? It seemed quite loud on the video.
BN: We brought in, earlier that day, a 120-watt amp.
N&O: Did you hide it?
BN: We just walked through the front doors, went over to the computers and put it down on the floor and sat started studying and nobody came over.
N&O: Why a dance?
BN: There's just something about having fun and being loud in a library. There's just something about that. Obviously it's sort of taboo.
N&O: You feel like an outlaw a little bit?
BN: Sure. We were very nervous and very excited. There was adrenaline.
N&O: So does this go high up on your resume?
BN: Yeah, this is one of the most random things I've ever done.
N&O: Is there some satisfaction in pulling this off?
BN: It's definitely empowering. It's amazing to know how many people you can reach via Facebook. It's just been the talk of campus for the past couple of days. Me and my two other buddies have gotten so many congratulations and pats on the back. There's so much video of it.
N&O: So what's your next stunt?
BN: We had a blast organizing this one. There's always the end of the year. We'll see. We've gotten a lot of comments that this should be a tradition.