Housing conference participants flash mobbed

Participants in the annual spring Ontario Association of College & University Housing Officers (OACUHO) conference were treated to a footloose and fancy free flash mob earlier this week.

A few dozen students and housing staff suddenly filled the grassy Pond Road Residence courtyard and performed a choreographed dance set to the song Footloose, from the 1984 film of the same name, much to the delight of conference goers.

“I was totally surprised,” said Sandy Howe, residence life coordinator at Brock University. “They really put on a great show and it was nice to see some of the staff out there.”

Her colleague, Colin Ryrie, also a residence life coordinator at Brock University, agreed. “The enthusiasm was great. At first I thought it was just students.”

Conference participants had just finished lunch, and were browsing through the items offered by some of the 32 vendors at the exhibitors fair set up inside and outside of the Pond Road Residence, when the flash mob descended.

“I was taken away,” said Mike Plumton, training and program coordinator at University of Toronto Scarborough. “The highlight was when all the York staff came out and danced as well. I thought that was pretty cool.”

York dance student Nikolaos Markakis choreographed and led the dance. He was joined by several students, including Rina Shainhouse, Erica Binder, Aria Evans, Robert Gvildys, Anne-Marie Krytiuk and Sky Fairchild. Many of the students are from Winters College Council. “It was a lot of fun,” said Markakis. He said he didn’t choose the song, but he did decide on the steps. The hard part was putting something together that would be easy to learn and that everyone could do.

Although it seemed impromptu, housing staff and students had a few short rehearsals in the days leading up to the event. “It took a couple of rehearsals to get the steps right,” said Debbie Kee, director of housing services, campus services & business operations.

The size of the flash mob grew in waves from the initial smattering of students to a large energetic group moving mostly in unison, but not taking itself too seriously. Their T-shirts, which stated, “So I Think I Can Help”, were a play on the conference theme, “So You Think You Can Sustain” and the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance”.

York hosted this year’s OACUHO conference from May 29 to June 1.