On an early Sunday morning — with not a single student in sight — about 25 Yale security guards shimmied through Sterling Memorial Library, lip-syncing and dancing to the tunes of various pop songs.
In the empty library, the security guards filmed their choreographed dance for a video posted on YouTube Nov. 15, singing along to hits such as “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson, “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” by Justin Timberlake, “Hot Hot Hot” by Buster Poindexter and “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge. As of now, the dancing security guards have racked up 19,954 views. The video served a dual purpose: what began as a team building project also became a public relations boost.
“It showcases authority figures in a positive light and promotes harmony,” said Melissa English, Manager of Library Security. “We really wanted to do it to be closer as a team.”
After watching lip-sync challenges by other police departments across the country, team members first approached English with the idea this summer. Security guards wanted to join the online trend, she said.
The video’s publication represented the culmination of a five-monthslong process, according to English. They had to obtain approval from the library administration before they could go ahead with the project, and supervisors held informal tryouts for the starring roles. English led the choreography along with local videographers Brandon B-Boy Lectronic Couloute and Fabiana Rendon, who she knew from a dance class.
The entire team came in at 7 a.m. to choreograph the whole set and shot the video after just one hour of practice.
“I had a really great time. I had fun. I’ve never laughed so much,” recalled Wilfredo Rodriguez, known as Freddie, who led the group during the song “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”
When he heard about the proposal for a lip-sync video, Rodriguez immediately went to the supervisors’ office to propose “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” He even completed an impromptu tryout on the spot.
But not all the video’s stars were initially drawn to leading roles. Fellow security guard and co-star Marvin Bell was originally one of the background dancers, but the person who was going to be the star of the “Uptown Funk” segment left the department before filming. He nominated Bell to replace him. Initially, Bell was hesitant to take on such a large role, but after seeing the positive reactions from the Yale community, he was happy that he ended up with a starring role.
“We had a co-worker here that indicated that she hadn’t been this happy in 10 years, and seeing our video was a part of that,” Bell said.
English and Rodriguez also noted that they received thanks and praise from students both online and in person after the video’s release. They were especially proud that so many students found the video to be relaxing and a perfect study break in the heat of midterms.
“Phenomenal, I love these humans,” commented Audrey Steinkemp ’22 on a Facebook post of the video. Other commenters expressed similar glee while watching the video of the Library Security team.
While the team only completed the project to build camaraderie and challenge themselves, rumors have circulated that other departments at Yale will follow suit with their own videos, according to English.
Members of the Yale Library Security team are not affiliated with the Yale or New Haven Police Departments.
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