November 25, 2012

Many in Maine embrace infectious dance mania

Cheesy and cheeky, the 'Gangnam Style' moves of South Korean rapper PSY appeal to the sense of fun among young and old.

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

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South Korean rapper PSY performs “Gangnam Style” at the American Music Awards on Nov. 18 in Los Angeles. Dance enthusiasts in Maine say they are attracted to PSY’s willingness to have fun.

The Associated Press

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Carl Little, a 58-year-old author and freelance art writer in Maine, does the “Gangnam Style” dance outside a fire station in Somesville on Nov. 6 to celebrate the fact that he had just voted. The dance, which originated in a music video by South Korean singer PSY, has become a symbol of fun and joy for people of all ages since its release last summer.

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Even serious dancers like it.

"When I first saw it, probably in September, I thought it was ridiculous and hilarious and fantastic," said Hadley Britt, 15, a freshman at Cape Elizabeth High School, who takes ballet three times a week at the Portland School of Ballet on Forest Avenue. "I was like, 'Oh my God, I want to learn that.' All my friends said, 'We should do that.' "

Hadley and her friends will do the dance spontaneously at someone's house, while sitting at desks, riding in the car or at the mall. She was once in a Shaw's supermarket with her mother and heard the song softly playing on the speaker system, so she started galloping "Gangnam Style" down the aisles.

"I think I like the video and dance so much because it's just so completely random," said Hadley.

A South Korean rapper in evening wear doing a dance on an invisible horse? Yep, random pretty much sums it up.

Random or not, "Gangnam Style" fever doesn't appear to be waning anytime soon. PSY has appeared on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and "Today" shows, and on the American Music Awards on Nov. 18 with MC Hammer. Earlier this month, he was on stage with pop icon Madonna during her show at Madison Square Garden.

In October, PSY met United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the U.N. headquarters, who said he wanted to work with the rapper because of his "unlimited global reach."

Locally, "Gangnam Style" is popping up in places where, well, you wouldn't expect to see people breaking out in dance.

For instance, on Nov. 17 at a female arm-wrestling match meant to be a fundraiser for Mayo Street Arts in Portland, a "Gangnam Style" dance-off was added to the event. Just to make it more fun.

"When I looked the video up (before the event), I was happy to see that the singer didn't really take himself all that seriously, which makes it easy and fun for the rest of us," said Elizabeth Burd, one of the arm wrestlers at the match. "The whole night was pretty lighthearted, so this fit right in."

Stage hypnotist Paul Ramsay performs at colleges all over the country, including Maine, and always lets his audience pick a pop celebrity for him to "suggest" his hypnotic subject to become. For the past few months, the audiences have wanted Ramsay to hypnotize his subjects into doing "Gangnam Style" as PSY.

"I give my audiences three choices -- PSY, Carly Rae Jepsen or (the boy band) One Direction. But for the past few months, at every show, they pick PSY," said Ramsay, who lives in Somersworth, N.H., just over the state line from Berwick. "So many people in my audiences have seen the video that I really don't have to tell (his hypnotism subjects) what to do.

"I just have to tell them they are the Korean singer PSY who does 'Gangnam Style' dance, and they know what to do."

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:


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Madonna performs onstage with South Korean rapper PSY during the MDNA concert at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 13. The rapper’s “cheesy” and insanely catchy dance routine even prompted United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to say PSY had “unlimited global reach.”

Guy Oseary/The Associated Press


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