The Harlem Shake is a global phenomenon that needs no introduction — the YouTube dance craze has practically been done to death — but a Colorado ultimate frisbee team's high-flying hijinks have propelled the meme into the news yet again. On February 15th, Colorado College students on Frontier Airlines Flight 157 donned a banana suit and Abraham Lincoln mask, and shook their way to fame somewhere over the Grand Canyon.
As of Friday evening, the video has garnered over 1,000,000 YouTube views and plenty of attention — including from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which confirmed that it was looking into the incident.
Colorado College's own student newspaper — The Catalyst — has been tracking the story closely. So far, it sounds like the students won't be punished for their actions.
Matt Zelin, the sophomore who filmed the dance, told the publication that his group asked the flight crew for permission, and was told that the dance routine would be safe. Tony Molinero, a spokesman for the FAA, said that the government organization merely "decided to look into it because it is better to be safe than sorry," and that an investigation would primarily revolve around whether the seatbelt sign was on or off, calling it "the key issue." And a Frontier Airlines spokeswoman, Kate O' Malley, confirmed that the seatbelt sign was indeed off and "all safety measures were followed."
Flight attendant was on-board
In fact, it sounds like an airplane flight attendants was totally complicit. "I told her how there was this popular YouTube thing called the Harlem Shake," Zelin told The Catalyst, "and her face kind of lit up":
"She said Frontier Airlines had already done one like that and that flight attendants had as well. She liked the idea of us doing it on the plane and that it was a real possibility. She just told me ‘to wait until the seatbelt sign was off and then go for it."
So, somewhere over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, he went for it. The flight attendant handed over the public address system, showed Zelin how to use it and told him that the "floor is yours."
"The music didn’t work and nobody had the song downloaded and it was actually just people dancing around on an airplane with no music playing whatsoever," Zelin said.
Zelin and frisbee team co-captains Conor Crowley and Gavin Nachbar have already appeared on The Today Show and Good Morning America to discuss the event: they told The Today Show that the camera was shaking because Zelin couldn't hold it still, rather than due to turbulence. "We really were being safe the whole time," said Nachbar.