This past Tuesday, University of Calgary student Thomas Milley fell from the second floor of the Taylor Family Digital Library while dancing Gangnam-style. Onlookers were both terrified and unsure as to whether Milley’s fall was part of his bizarre moves. Milley suffered minor injuries.
“Gangnam Style” is a popular song by Korean artist Psy. Uploaded onto YouTube two months ago, the video has since received over 1.5 million views. The song features cameos from Korean celebrities, and is hugely popular in the West.
Third-year business student Laura Wilson was studying a few feet from where Milley fell. “It was really strange. I could hear from his iPod headphones he was listening to “Gangnam Style,” but otherwise I ignored him.”
“You could hear that song on almost everyone’s iPod — those kinds of headphones aren’t very good,” Wilson continued. “I tried to keep that song out of my head so I could focus on my finance homework, but even I found my foot tapping along.”
Apparently, hours before Milley’s fall, some students orchestrated a flash mob near the Science Theatres set to the Korean pop song.
Participant Kyle Groves doesn’t remember much besides hearing the “bass start to drop.”
“There was a fraternity nearby raising money for something and then they put on “Gangnam Style.” All of a sudden I lost control of my body,” said Groves. “I started hopping in line with other students.”
“It was all in a haze of K-pop,” said Groves.
Reports of trance-by-Gangnam- Style have been reported across the globe. Most recently, in Miami, Florida, a group of people Gangnam-styled into the nearby ocean spontaneously when a car drove by blasting the said song.
U of C anthropology professor Carolyn York cited ancient tribal rituals as a possible explanation.
“When a tribal dance would begin, the entire clan would join in together in some way, be it by clapping along to the beat or dancing,” York said. “In this way, the tribe was able to band together in trying times. Whether the tribe would practice the ritual for more rain or for courage before a battle, it was important to bring the tribal community closer together.”
York attributes Groves’s uncontrollable participation in the flash mob as an example of student urges to come together.
“Similar to Groves’s experience, members of tribes often couldn’t help but to join in on the dancing ritual,” added York.
However, U of C sociology professor Anton Gregory disagrees, instead pointing to the song’s music video as the source of young adults’ fascination.
“Clearly the video encapsulates all that the university student fears,” Gregory said. “Consumerist and environmentalist anxieties are all featured and mocked in this video. Swan boats? Dancing in garbage? Clearly this video shows all the horrors the average university student worries will come to pass.”
“The video might as well feature a post-apocalyptic world.”
According to Gregory, upon hearing “Gangnam Style” students lose control of themselves, expressing their anxieties through the dance choreography glorified in the video.
Milley, who recovered quickly after his fall, disagreed with Gregory, claiming it was “silly” to attribute “so-called anxieties” to his fall.
“I just really like the song, man,” Milley said.