Montrealers shovel to the beat of African drums
3 men show off their dance moves while shovelling snow in Montreal, get global attention
"Ask three Africans living in Canada to shovel and this is what you get."
That was the caption that accompanied Richard Laubonet's video he posted last weekend onto his Facebook page.
Everyone hates shovelling, and I think the fact of seeing people doing it while dancing and having fun resonated with people.- Richard Laubonet
But what he got was almost 230,000 views in fewer than 48 hours.
"I was surprised at how quickly it spread," said Laubonet, 38.
"People sent me private messages, thanking me because it brought smiles to their faces... People wrote to me from everywhere — Australia, the United States, Israel. I can't believe it!"
The video shows Laubonet and two others showing off their African dance moves while shovelling snow to the beat of African drums.
"Everyone hates shovelling, and I think the fact of seeing people doing it while dancing and having fun resonated with people. Also, the biggest contrast is that we're African. We come from countries that have no snow, so it's unusual."
Laubonet, who is known by his artist name as Rich'Art, moved to Canada from Ivory Coast 14 years ago.
As the owner of a fitness school called Djamboola Fitness, which mixes African dances with cardio exercises, he decided to take his students outside Saturday morning for a workout in the snow.
After the outdoor lesson in Jarry Park, Laubonet noticed that a section of the park reserved for children was covered in snow.
"It was inaccessible to the children, so I said let's stop and shovel so that the kids can access that part of the park," Laubonet said.
"When we were almost finished, we created an improvised dance with African dance moves and asked a friend to film it. What you see in the video is the result."
New career path?
Laubonet said he is seriously considering adding the job of snow-removal contractor to his CV.
"There were people who invited us to come shovel their driveway. It's a funny idea, but I really do think it could be a business opportunity," he said.
"It could be a very interesting idea to have a group of Africans come to your car that is trapped in the snow, put on some good music and in less than 15 minutes clear your driveway while you watch them dance from your living room window."
Until then, Laubonet says he is planning to make more videos — but with a large group of dancers.
"Ideally, I would love to clear snow outside a hospital or an old-age home. It has to be a gesture that is contributes to society. I would love to do that."