During a recent library talk on technology, a well-connected Westporter invoked the name Matt Harding.
Matt is an Internet sensation. His homemade videos — showing him dancing long-limbedly, spastically, poorly — have been viewed 75 million times. He’s danced in Mongolia, Cambodia, Antarctica. Machu Picchu, Namibia, New York. Fiji, the DMZ and Iceland. And everywhere in between.
During the Q-and-A, I asked the library speaker: “Did you know Matt is from Westport?”
He had no idea.
If you think about it, it makes sense. Staples — from which Matt graduated in 1994 — is a place that has long given students the sense that a great world awaits them. Staples students often indulge their wanderlust — and it helps that many have families that can support great post-college adventures.
Yet Matt wasn’t one of those. As a junior, his father advised him not go to college; Matt just wasn’t ready. So he worked in video games — as a magazine editor and game designer — and eventually landed in Australia.
That surprised him. Unlike many peers, he was not a traveler growing up. But now he was ready to see the world — and see it he did.
Since 2002 he’s danced his way across the planet. He’s danced on the Trans-Siberian Railway, on top of Kilimanjaro, and on “Good Morning America.”
He’s picked up a corporate sponsor too. And now he’s an author.
Where The Hell Is Matt? Dancing Badly Across The World tells Matt’s backstory. He describes almost indescribable adventures on every continent, with an honesty his parents no doubt cringe at. There are plenty of photos too. They’re not National Geographic quality, but then again those photographers didn’t dance in Timbuktu.
These days, Matt calls Seattle home (not that he’s there a hell of a lot). But it’s safe to say he wouldn’t be there — wouldn’t be anywhere, let alone a worldwide Internet sensation — if he hadn’t had a bit of Westport in him, way back when.