Trevor Lamb ’04 Dances With Matt

No, not Matt Lamb ’07.

Matt Harding.

In 2003 the former video game developer did an impromptu dance in Hanoi.  A friend filmed Matt, 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 dancing with 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; in Korea’s DMZ; in the plazas of Buenos Aires and the villages of Africa — are goofy, gleeful, and oddly compelling.

But let Trevor — the former Staples junior varsity coach who is in his 2nd year in China, teaching and working and learning — 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 year, 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 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.

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