Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Belfast dances to Pharrell Williams hit 'Happy' in YouTube video

Locals dance for the camera in the Belfast Is Happy video
Locals dance for the camera in the Belfast Is Happy video
Locals dance for the camera in the Belfast Is Happy video
Locals dance for the camera in the Belfast Is Happy video

Belfast was recently named the happiest city in the UK - and now we have an infectiously catchy music video to prove it.

Inspired by singer and rapper Pharrell Williams, the Belfast Is Happy video (below) features local people bustin' a move to the hit song Happy, from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack.

Fledgling Belfast production company Afro-Mic Productions filmed and edited the video in just 24 hours after Janine Kane, owner of The Spaniard and Muriel's Cafe Bar, came up with the idea.

"It seems to be a viral thing at the minute," she said, "with lots of cities around the world copying the original.

"They've done it in Moscow, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Berlin - and then we saw Dublin had done it, so we knew we needed to jump on the bandwagon quickly."

Janine contacted old friend Emma-Rosa Dias at Afro-Mic, who organised a cameraman to spend a day grabbing passers-by on the street and convincing them to dance for the camera.

The finished product certainly reflects the 'real' Belfast, as it was a typically cold and wet day meaning many of the dancers had to boogie under their umbrellas.

"The only people who were specifically planned for the video were the staff from the bars, but everyone else was completely random," said Janine.

"There are a few well-known faces - Pamela Ballentine was literally driving down Hill Street and very kindly popped her head out for us, and I asked Tracey Hall to come out for us and she did - but most are just normal people who represent a cross-section of Belfast.

"It's not set up, it's not staged and we didn't have make up artists. It was very much what we could get on the day. Every single person was up for it, there wasn't a group who turned us down."

Further Reading

There's a danger we're becoming a sappy, fragile lot 

St Anne's Cathedral clergy, Audi car salesmen and traffic wardens are all seen getting their groove on to the feel-good tune.

The video was posted to YouTube, where views rocketed from a few hundred to over 7,000 on Thursday night, as people shared it on Twitter and Facebook.

The Harland and Wolff cranes, the Big Fish, Queen's University and even Long's chippie all appear in the background, which was important to Janine and Emma.

"We wanted to get the local landmarks into the video, partly so that people here would recognise places but also for further afield, to try to attract visitors to come to Belfast."


She admits the video is a marketing ploy, but her bars only appear for a few brief seconds.

"There is an element of promoting The Spaniard and Muriel's, but it's really to promote Belfast. We were voted the happiest country in the UK recently and we felt we needed to do something to show that genuinely we are a very happy city.

"Other cities used professional dancers, whereas we've put a more normal slant on it."

"From my own perspective, I'd be considered a small independent and I don't have the collateral to spend on large publications. Competition is getting tougher, especially in the Cathedral Quarter, so you have to keep yourself on the map."

But whatever the reasons behind it, the video has gone down a storm on social media. And if you can watch it without smiling, then you mustn't be from Belfast.



This is the #Belfast I know and love! Thanks @MurielsCafeBar @SpaniardBelfast We are happy! Great song too

— Corrine Heaney (@corrineheaney) January 30, 2014


Love this tribute to #Belfast. Even in the howling rain beautiful Belfast is Happy!

— Laura Thomson (@LAThomsonTweets) January 30, 2014


I wonder how many other people in #Belfast are randomly humming @Pharrell 'a #Happy tonight haha #HappyBelfast

— Janine Cobain (@JC2703) January 30, 2014


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