On Friday, the historic lawn of Ayres Hall was overrun by scantily-clad, masked students bumping and grinding for the production of UT's Harlem Shake video.
The director of the video, Isabel Tipton, led the charge of ridiculous dance moves and charades. Tipton, a sophomore in music and theater, discovered the Harlem Shake with friends after surfing YouTube.
The popular Internet meme exploded across pop culture last week, as seemingly every group of people imaginable filmed themselves dancing to the beat by New York producer Baauer. The typical video begins with one person dancing to the song while everyone else in the scene seemingly pays no attention. Then, at the climactic drop of the beat, the video cuts to a scene of wild dancing and even wilder costumes, with all the formerly uninterested participants joining the initial dancer.
After watching countless videos of obscure and slightly inappropriate dance moves, Tipton saw an opportunity for UT students.
"This campus has a ton of community spirit," Tipton said. "We knew it would be awesome to get a ton of students together for our own Volunteer take."
Tipton created a Facebook event titled "UT Does the Harlem Shake," and over 550 students said they planned to attend. Tipton expected far less due to an unexpected downpour of cold rain, but the weather didn't discourage everyone. More than 200 students braved the dreary weather to star in the video.
An Alice in Wonderland, several baseball players and a few spandex-clad students brought new meaning to the phrase "dancing to the beat of your own drum" after the imaginary bass was dropped in front of Ayres.
Music wasn't played, but the students attending knew the general idea and prepared dances beforehand. The instigator dancer was none other than UT's mascot, Smokey, wearing a bright orange suit.
Matt Deyo, a senior in animal science, also decided to wear orange in an effort to showcase his Volunteer spirit. He admitted to honing some of his favorite dance moves before the shoot started.
"I looked sexy in my orange halter top and short shorts," Deyo said. "For the dance, I did a lot of belly-dancing and Gangnam Style."
Many other recent dance trends were showcased, from the dougie to Gangnam to breakdancing. Overall, there seemed to be a lot of pelvic thrusting.
"The most memorable moment was when I told everyone to dance and then everyone went insane," Tipton said. "I cannot stress enough how impressed I am with the enthusiasm of the people who showed up."
Making a Harlem Shake video without music seemed strange, as it required 200 people to dance with no audible beat. For Deyo, however, the strangeness of production was alleviated by the video's debut on YouTube. At the time of printing, the video had been viewed more than 37,000 times.
"Actually making the video wasn't too exciting because there was no music to dance to, but after seeing the final product I was happy to see how perfect it turned out," Deyo said.
To find the final product, people can search "University of Tennessee does the Harlem Shake" on YouTube. Other popular UT versions include those made by the men's swim team, Hess Hall, Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, and another by the student section at Saturday's men's basketball game against Kentucky. Former UT standout Tobias Harris, a current forward for the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, cameoed as the initial dancer.