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From 4chan Ridicule To Twitter Glory: The Dancing Man Story

We'll Dance With You, Dancing Man!


If I were to list all the unfortunate individuals who have gone viral online because people flocked to make fun of them, I would have to do it in a featureless padded room free from windows and sharp objects. I’d probably need to have Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield playing in the background the whole time too. What I’m getting at here is that it would be depressing and it would take ages.

Cyber-bullying is a nasty, relentless monster that knows no boundaries or limits and its most recent victim was a Londoner named Sean, or better known as ‘The Dancing Man’. Two photographs of him, first dancing and then looking rather dejected surfaced on 4chan with the caption: “Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week. He stopped when he saw us laughing.”

This could have very easily stopped there, but thankfully for Sean, and humanity at large, it didn’t. Within hours of the photo appearing, a massive Twitter campaign to find Sean began to gain traction, spearheaded by Cassandra Fairbanks, an LA-based writer for The Free Thought Project. She began by tracking Sean down and amassing over 1700 other Californian women in order to throw a party for Sean, one which would not only allow him to dance but celebrate it.

Before long the campaign started to gain ground on a global scale, with $30,000 being raised to fund the party (and be donated to anti-bullying causes) and numerous celebrities joined in to show their support, such as Pharrell and Ellie Goulding. The Los Angeles Coliseum have said they’ll host the party, Fireball Whiskey have gotten in on the act and Moby, keen to maintain his reputation as the nicest guy in electronic music, has offered to DJ pro-bono. Smartly, Fairbanks and her supporters have opted not to track down the anonymous 4chan poster, suggesting that doing so would only invite more abuse, just in a different direction.

Beyond the party itself, the story has also sparked off the #dancefree trend, which invites everyone to upload a 10 second video of themselves dancing in some iconic local area in order to combat bullying.

Body-shaming is an all-too-common phenomenon online, and numerous campaigns have flared up to combat it in the past, such as Be Real and Dove’s recent #speakbeautiful initiative, but it’s fair to say there’s never been one quite like this. No confirmation yet as to the actual date of the party, but you can be sure that when it happens there will be plenty of adjacent Twitter activity (and perhaps even a livestream of the event).  

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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From 4chan Ridicule To Twitter Glory: The Dancing Man Story Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, March 12, 2015 Rating: 5
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