By Taylor Rexrode
On Diadeloso in 1996, Baylor hosted its first on-campus dance, forever lifting a ban on dancing at the largest Baptist university in the world.
Now nearly 17 years later, students dance to the beat of their own drum by the hundreds in banana suits, sombreros, Speedos and other costumes.
Students shuffled to the “Harlem Shake,” a 30-second, “anything goes” dance, at 4 p.m. Friday. They danced on and around the Judge Baylor statue in Founders Mall, wielding cut-outs of Queen Elizabeth and President Ken Starr, CPR dummies, foam swords and Baylor paraphernalia.
Carlsbad, N.M., junior Kevin Freeman coordinated the Baylor Harlem Shake event on Facebook after watching these gone-viral dance videos on YouTube.
“I thought it was pretty funny,” Freeman said. “I thought, ‘Hey, it would be cool if Baylor did that,’ so I planned it on Tuesday.”
What started as a Facebook invitation to 20 friends quickly turned into a Facebook group with more than 800 confirmed attendees. At the event, nearly 300 people showed up in costumes ready to shake it up.
Austin freshman Kristenella Chilinski, who started the dance wearing a bear coat inspired by the television series “Workaholics,” said dances like the Harlem Shake go viral for their oddity.
“I think it’s the really strange, unique things that go viral,” Chilinski said. “Everyone wanted to make a Harlem Shake video so it became popular. It was a chance to have a lot of fun and meet new people. People wanted to take the chance.”
Shreveport, La., senior Dylan Greenleaf danced at the top of the Judge Baylor statue wearing rainbow-colored shorts. He said he believes that the video shows Baylor students letting loose and showing the fun side of Baylor student life.
“I think most people have a perception of Baylor that the students won’t do crazy stuff,” Greenleaf said. “Baylor students are just as crazy as everyone else. They want to have a good time. A lot of freshmen were able to come as well as people off-campus. The turnout shows that several people from all classifications came to have a good time.”
Dickinson senior Casey Floyd, who filmed the Harlem Shake, said he agrees that people will see Baylor in a positive light with the video.
“If people look at us as a strictly Christian college that has a no-fun vibe to it, then it could change their opinions,” Floyd said. “I think people will think Baylor kids know how to have fun.”
Most of all, students believe that the dance itself shows how important it is to dance and go crazy despite other people’s opinions.
“I like how everyone just goes completely crazy and how no one cares what anyone else does,” Greenleaf said. “I like all the crazy costumes. Everyone is wearing crazy clothes so no one is judging you for looking insane. That’s the best part.”