(What? You JUST NOW realized it wasn’t true? Holy crap!)
Meanwhile, YouTube posted its own — more intricate but (IMHO) less funny — April Fool’s prank.
YouTube “announced” that the past 8 years have been an elaborate contest. As of midnight Monday — April 1! — they’d shut down, review every video ever uploaded, and pick one ultimate “winner.”
What makes this blog-worthy is that YouTube gives 2 shout-outs to Matt Harding — the 1994 Staples grad whose videos of himself dancing poorly, from Macchu Picchu to Mongolia (and every place in between) made him an early YouTube sensation. (Later, it earned him corporate contracts.)
First, the April Fool’s video shows a brief clip of Matt in mid-dance.
Later, he’s “interviewed.”
“I better win,” he snarls. “Otherwise, all those years of traveling the world were a waste of time.”
You can watch the video below. (Click here, if your browser does not link directly.)
And for those of you who are easily snookered, remember: It’s a joke!
Every morning, NASA posts an “Astronomy Picture of the Day.”
Each one highlights a different image or photograph of the universe, with a brief explanation from a professional astronomer.
Yesterday, the photo of the day featured a panorama of Mars. The day before there was a volcano and aurora in Iceland; before that, a “gravitational tractor” that could intercept an earth-threatening asteroid.
Many humans on Earth exhibit periods of happiness, and one method of displaying happiness is dancing. Happiness and dancing transcend political boundaries and occur in practically every human society.
Matt Harding traveled through many nations on Earth, planned on dancing, and filmed the result. The video, the latest in a series of similar videos, is perhaps a dramatic example that humans from all over planet Earth feel a common bond as part of a single species. Happiness is frequently contagious — few people are able to watch the above video without smiling.
Last month — the day after it was released — “06880” featured Matt Harding’s now-viral video.
It’s pretty cool that NASA — with millions more viewers “all over planet Earth” — has finally done the same.
To view Matt’s complete video, click the arrow below.
The 1994 Staples graduate was an early YouTube sensation. His videos — of himself dancing “badly” (his word), from Macchu Picchu to Mongolia, and every place in between — drew hundreds of millions of viewers. He wrote a book. Corporate sponsors threw money at him.
And through it all — from his first impromptu dance (Hanoi, 2003) to today — Matt kept dancing.
Matt Harding in New Guinea, from his 2008 video. (He’s 4th from the left, wearing a dark blue shirt.)
His latest video was released yesterday. It could be his best yet.
In less than 5 minutes, Matt busts out new moves. He waltzes in Vienna; does a tribal dance in South Africa; gets down with firefighters in Texas, and underwater at the Great Barrier Reef.
He does whatever dance they do in North Korea — and what other Westporters (except Alan and Brian Hershey) have ever been there?
And Matt dances everywhere else too, hopscotching from Idaho to Scotland to Rwanda, all to infectious music he helped compose.
Sure, it’s hot and humid here. Yeah, there’s a million things to do before we can relax for the summer. And watch out, someone might give your kid a cupcake when you’re not looking.
But forget all that. Click the link below. Crank up the speakers, and enjoy the video.
It could be the most enjoyable 5 minutes you’ll spend all week.
(Click here to learn more about Matt Harding, and see his other videos, at his actual website.)
Trevor Lamb is a 2004 Staples graduate. A former soccer captain, he played in college, returned to his alma mater as junior varsity coach, then gave in to his wanderlust and decided to explore the world.
He’s in his 2nd year in China — teaching, learning and loving life.
Along the way he heard about Matt Harding — the former video game developer who since 2003 has roamed the planet, filming himself dancing.
Matt became a global sensation. He danced — “badly,” which was part of the charm — in Mongolia, Cambodia, Antarctica, Machu Picchu, Namibia, New York, Fiji and Iceland.
And everywhere in between.
Matt Harding dancing with friends in Papua New Guinea.
Over 75 million folks watched him. His videos — dancing on a crab-filled South Pacific Beach; in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan; in the slums of Mumbai; in Korea’s DMZ; in the plazas of Buenos Aires and the villages of Africa — are goofy, gleeful, and oddly compelling.
But let Trevor pick up the story:
I’ve been familiar with Matt’s video for some time. Two weeks ago a friend told me he would be visiting Shanghai. Unfortunately, I was leaving that same day for Hong Kong.
However, on arriving in Hong Kong I found out that his next stop was — Hong Kong. So I would have the chance to dance with Matt after all.
The area designated by Matt on his Facebook event page was the “Walk of Stars” boardwalk (Hong Kong’s version of Hollywood’s, with people like Jackie Chan and Jet Li instead of Paul Newman and Arnold).
Groups of people, local and foreigners, young and old, arrived at 8 p.m. as expected. Matt, however, did not.
Trevor Lamb (last summer at the World Cup in South Africa).
Despite his tardiness there was a great friendly energy in the air. People were in a festive mood. Some dressed up in cow, Super Mario, even drag queen outfits to celebrate the occasion. Everyone talked about dancing with Matt.
Around 8:15 Matt arrived to a hero’s welcome from around 150 pseudo-fans. We immediately got to business: Standing in front of Hong Kong’s iconic skyline of triumphant buildings.
First Matt read to us a liability statement that we had to record in case he gets the video commercially sponsored, so no silly dancer can decide he wants a piece of the pie. Then we tried 4 or 5 takes of dancing — happily, but strangely without music.
Some of the dances were more choreographed than Matt’s standard Irish gig-ish dance, but nothing too fancy — still straight-up Matt-style. There were a dozen or so cameras recording. Ironically, the smallest was Matt’s. The others — from the media and Asian people — overcompensated.
The whole taping took 30 minutes. Then hordes of people started taking photos with Matt, videos dancing with Matt, even giving Matt their babies to dance and take photos with. It was like he was a celebrity equal to the names we were dancing on.
I had just arrived in Hong Kong and still had several errands to run, so I didn’t stick around to take photos and chat with Matt. Later in the evening I Facebragged that I had danced with the Matt.
That would be the end of the story, except for this: Trevor had no idea that Matt was a fellow Staples graduate. Trevor found out when someone — okay, I — commented on his Facebook post.
So Trevor and Matt parted without connecting over their shared high school experience — 8,037 miles from home.
“That made the experience somewhat bittersweet,” Trevor notes.
“Regardless,” he says, “dancing was a great experience, and I remain a strong supporter of the video and project. It shows how we live in an age in which you can be famous not for being good looking, not even for being particularly talented, but for having an idea to make your dreams real, and in doing so unite scores of people from all corners of the world.”
After all that, he asks, “How can you not have an optimistic view of the future?”
Matt could not be reached for comment. Wherever he is.
Most internet sensations have the shelf life of a firefly.
But Matt Harding dances on.
The 1994 Staples graduate earned international acclaim the same time YouTube came of age. Abandoning what he thought would be his life work — designing video games — Matt decided to travel the world.
In 2003, he did an impromptu dance in Hanoi. A friend filmed him, and a tradition began.
By 2006 people around the planet were viewing his videos. He danced — “badly,” which was part of the charm — in Mongolia, Cambodia, Antarctica, Machu Picchu, Namibia, New York, Fiji and Iceland.
And everywhere in between.
Matt Harding and friends in Papua, New Guinea.
Over 75 million folks watched him. His videos — showing him dancing on a crab-filled South Pacific Beach; in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan; in the slums of Mumbai — are goofy, gleeful, and oddly compelling.
Sometimes he dances alone. In the DMZ, 1 somber Korean soldier stood behind him. Usually, though — in the plazas of Buenos Aires, the villages of New Guinea, the plains of Africa — folks of all ages giddily join in.
And Matt dances on.
Last summer he danced in places most people hesitate even to walk: Haiti. Iraq. Afghanistan.
He was welcomed joyfully. “I keep learning, and re-learning, that people are friendly, everywhere I go,” Matt told KING-TV last week. He lives in Seattle now, and the local station caught up with him there.
In 2011, he heads to Cuba.
“I’m still dancing,” he said. “It’s become my job.
“This is what I do. And I can’t think of anything better to do.”
Last summer Matt danced -- and juggled balls -- in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Posted onMay 27, 2009|Comments Off on Where The Hell Is Matt? (And Why The Hell Did He Write A Book?)
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 notNational 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.
Comments Off on Where The Hell Is Matt? (And Why The Hell Did He Write A Book?)
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome — and appreciated! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to: Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Or use Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Or Zelle: email@example.com. Thanks!)