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'Gangnam' video spinoff: El Monte lifeguards to ask council for jobs back

September 18, 2012 |  7:54 am

Most of the 13 lifeguards and a manager who lost their jobs after making a video spoof of the Korean pop song "Gangnam Style" will go to El Monte's City Council meeting Tuesday night, asking for their positions back.

Council members actually called for a special session with them on Sept. 14, responding to the lifeguard's request for a personal meeting.

"But since we got less than 24 hours' notice for that meeting, we did not have enough people to represent ourselves," said Michael Roa, a University of La Verne student who had worked at the El Monte Aquatic Center for seven years.

In August, he edited and posted the group's video, "Lifeguard Style," a spinoff of "Gangnam Style," a viral YouTube hit created by Korean rapper Psy that topped the iTunes chart.

"We were trying out some dance moves," Roa said. "We didn't think we did anything offensive."

Yet El Monte officials recognized the lifeguards in their work uniform, performing in the city pool. By early September, supervisors in the Parks and Recreation Division called in Roa and the others — including the manager who did not appear in the video — asking them to review pages from a staff manual about violations of city property before firing them.

Since then, more than 14,000 fans signed up to support the college-age performers via their Facebook page, "Bring back the 14 El Monte lifeguards."

Roa, who is studying marriage and family therapy, said he and his pals are surprised -- and happy.

"We think we'll let the public speak in support of our situation," he added. "We will respond collectively and united" when we appear at the council.


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-- Anh Do

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