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Where the Hell is Matt? The Guy Dancing Around the World
How to Get Semi-Famous Dancing Badly Around the World
"Where the Hell is Matt?" is one of my favorites series of videos on YouTube. They make me smile every time I watch them. If you're not familiar with "Where the Hell is Matt," they're simple videos showing Matt Harding (a self-proclaimed "bad dancer") dancing around the world. What's special about that? Well, you just can't help but smile when watching Matt perform what Amazon calls an "awkward, limb-flailing dance of joy." Others apparently agree, because he's had over 75 million YouTube views, and thousands of people came out to dance with him in the sequels. Here's how a guy dancing around the world became sorta famous.
Already seen Matt's previous videos? Skip straight to the 2012 video.
Where the Hell is Matt? - The video that started it all
According to the bio on his website, wherethehellismatt.com, Matt Harding was a game designer who quit his job in 2003 to travel around Asia. The video showing off his "bad dancing" skills wasn't a clever marketing ploy to become famous. It happened quite by accident.
"A few months into his trip, a travel buddy gave Matt an idea," the website says. "They were standing around taking pictures in Hanoi, and his friend said 'Hey, why don't you stand over there and do that dance. I'll record it.' He was referring to a particular dance Matt does. It's actually the only dance Matt does. He does it badly..."
In this first video, Matt's dancing skills are, in fact, pretty darn bad. But he dances with such abandon in front of the Taj Mahal, on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, in the streets of Hanoi, and in a variety of other locations around the globe that you can't help but enjoy watching the video.
Others thought so, too. As the website explains, "A couple years later, someone found the video online and passed it to someone else, who passed it to someone else, and so on." The video went viral and became an Internet hit. Here's the first video.
Where the Hell is Matt? 2006 Dancing Badly Video - The first video sponsored by Stride Gum
Matt's 2005 video started making the rounds on the Internet and soon found its way to someone at Stride Gum. They asked if he would be interested in making another video showing off his bad dancing skills, and of course he said yes. So in 2006, Matt made a 6-month trip around the world, visiting 39 countries on every continent. In the second video, Matt dances in the rain in Tokyo, with land tortoises in the Galapagos Islands, on sand dunes in Namibia, underwater in scuba gear in Micronesia, on top of the Great Wall of China, surrounded by snow and ice in Antarctica, and in front of plenty of other interesting backdrops.
I personally think Matt's dancing skills improved a bit with the second video. He's still not going to win "Dancing with the Stars," but at least he seems to have a bit more rhythm and he stays facing the camera most of the time, so you don't have to look at his back so much while he's dancing. Take a look for yourself.
The Guy Dancing Around the World Keeps Going - The third video contains a twist
You might think that Matt's story would end after the second video. After all, he became an Internet celebrity, got a big company to pay for a fantastic 6-month vacation, and he improved his dancing skills. He had earned enough bragging rights to be the life of the party for quite awhile. But when his email box starting overflowing with messages from people who had seen the videos, he got an idea. He went back to the people at Stride Gum and asked if they'd sponsor him for another trip around the globe. And this time, he was going to invite other people to dance with him. They said yes, and the video below is the result.
Where the Hell is Matt? 2012 - The newest video
I think the new 2012 video is the best yet, and Matt has actually learned a few (ok, a LOT!) of new dance steps. As usual, he's got group dances around the world, with some funny dance partners (a sea lion!?) and locations (while scuba diving) thrown in to make you smile even more.
Where the Hell is Matt Dancing Badly Around the World? - A behind-the-scenes look at the guy dancing around the world
The book "Where in the Hell is Matt Dancing Badly Around the World?" offers readers more insight into how Matt became an Internet sensation with his globetrotting bad dancing videos. If you enjoy the videos, you'll enjoy this book. One Amazon reviewer said, "The Matt videos make you think that it was a snap for this bumbling guy to pop around the planet dancing whenever he felt inclined. This book pulls back the curtain on that misconception with fantastic stories told by a great storyteller. I can't wait to see what he does next!"
Book description: Matt Harding created an Internet sensation with his awkward, limb-flailing dance of joy. His travels, and his bad dancing, have been viewed online nearly 75 million times. It started as a lark on a curbside in Hanoi, Vietnam. He did it for fun, but Matt’s irreverent spirit caught on, and soon thousands all over the world were joining him in a simple expression of what we all, as humans, have in common. In his first book, a full-color travelogue, Matt shares, with refreshing honesty and wit, the adventure of creating his videos. He tells of jumping into the ocean with a humpback whale, sledding down a hill in Antarctica, and hitchhiking across the Skeleton Coast desert with a spare tire under one arm. Matt also reveals the unlikely story of how his passion for travel led to Internet stardom, a corporate sponsor, and an odd little pop culture phenomenon that strikes a deep emotional chord.
His book, like his videos, offers us a chance to share his unique experiences as he walks us through how he became the first person to dance with the world.
Is "Where the Hell is Matt" A Hoax? - The simple answer is no. The longer answer is below.
Many people have wondered if the Matt videos are a hoax. Did he really dance underwater? How about in a weightless environment on a jet? Too close to elephants in Africa? And in the freezing temperatures of Antartica? The simple answer is yes, he did all of these things. Yes, the videos are real. No, they're not a hoax. Got that? The videos are real.
Now make sure you keep this in mind because this is where the answer gets a little convoluted.
Because there are so many skeptics in the world who didn't believe the videos were real, Matt decided to play a little trick on folks. At a speech at Entertainment Gathering 2008 in Monterey, Matt explained that it was all a "hoax." But the explanation was actually the hoax, meant to show how silly some of the skeptics were. Anyone who heard the entire speech figured this out, as Matt ended with a pie chart showing the budget for the videos. The budget included things such as $1 million for robot uprising insurance, $300,000 for hush money, and $17 million for a 727 in a swimming pool. But the "hoax video" was cut to exclude the budget pie chart and suddenly people were confused. Was it a hoax? Or not?
Matt explained it all at the 2009 MacWorld Expo.