But Pharell initially gained attention for the song this summer when 360 videos were produced for “Happy,” all consisting of people dancing gleefully in Los Angeles while lip-syncing. They ranged from professional dancers, to professionals who were probably not dancers, to comedians such as Steve Carell and Jimmy Kimmel. Naturally people started making their own “Happy” videos, as homages to institutions such as Howard University, but also to the island of Jamaica, as well as Paris, Belgrade, Serbia and Vienna, Austria (Although popular, the “Happy” concept is nowhere nearly as ubiquitous, or as annoying, as last year’s Harlem Shake videos).
But what about DC? So thought Alex Cox, 25, and Omid Heidari, 26, who helped to create Ward 8 Studios. Working out of a studio near the intersection of Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Jr. in Anacostia, they decided to attach two small speakers to an i-Phone and asked random people on the street to dance for them.
Recognize all those places? At the very least, you should spot Union Station and the National Mall. If you’re one of those who has cocooned yourself in Northwest, other local treasures, like The Big Chair and the home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass in Anacostia, may not be as familiar.
The video was meant to cast life east of the river in a more positive light, Cox said. Cox and Heidari are friends from Pepperdine University who have decided to live and work in Southeast, much to the confusion of their friends.
“There’s really this need to show that this side of the river is really cool,” Cox said. “You’re not going to get shot if you get on MLK or Good Hope Road. Some people we know saw the video and asked us, ‘Is that even DC?’”
As for the dancing, Cox and Heidari estimated that perhaps eight out of ten people were willing to help them out, although negotiations were harder than they would be in other cities.
“In Los Angeles, anytime you pull out a camera and walk, people get it,” Heidari said. “Most people in DC asked for our credentials. They were really interested in the why. What’s the spin? What’s your slant?”
One part of the city was especially tough.
“The hardest place to find people was Capitol Hill,” Cox said. “People really wanted to let us know they’re serious.”
The video is indeed infectious. But it prompted us to wonder: If you were to make a video of life in the District, where would your happy place be?