Friday, August 5, 2011

I Know Where the Hell Matt Is!

Sometime back in the depths of history - like around 2008 or so - someone sent me a video link. It was on MySpace. Now do you understand how long ago I'm talking about? ;) The link was to a video that was at that time burning up bandwidth all over the internet. I'm usually a little iffy on these, but I decided to give this one a look. Here is what I saw:

Now, I don't know if you already seen that several (dozen?) times or if that was your first viewing - but I have to tell you, without getting too sappy - this video really made me happy. I immediately found this Matt guy pretty engaging with his very distinctive dance that wouldn't make Astaire or Kelly look over their shoulders and sweat, but which was nonetheless fun to watch as he seemingly set foot in every corner of the earth, and sometimes above and below it. I watched it a few times over the next few months, and then instead of moving on to other things, my usual MO with these things, I found myself going back to it once a month or every six weeks or so.

The array of places visited by Matt awakened in me a renewed sense of wanderlust, and seeing all those disparate people coming together and just living in the moment and dancing made me a little hopeful. (I did say I wasn't going to get sappy, right? D'oh!)

(There is another video, by the way: an earlier one that is more just Matt dancing alone in various places. Don't get me wrong, it's cool - and he does manage to appear in some amazing spots - but it's the second one - bringing in others to dance with him and share that simple joy - that really works for me.)

After a while, I checked out his website wherethehellismatt.com, and eventually ordered his book, which chronicled his adventures travelling the globe and shooting his videos. I was at that moment just finishing up a horror movie script for some producers and the script format was large in my mind when I asked Matt to inscribe it to me.

And that seemed to be that. I still watch the video occasionally, not as often as I did that first year. I also hadn't actually read the book - my wife, the wondrous Suze says I'm far too into delayed gratification for my own good, especially as I get older. Then, out of the blue, the weekend of July 23rd, 2011, I get an email in my inbox - here is what it said:

Where the Hell is Matt is coming to Fayetteville, North Carolina!

If you're getting this email, you've either written to me or signed-up

on my site to be notified when I'll be in your area. Well, I'm coming

to North Carolina to include it in my new dancing video. This is an

invitation to come out and join me.

In this new video, I'm actually learning how to dance, so I'll be

showing some easy moves and asking people to follow along. But don't

worry. I'm still not very good at dancing so you don't have to be

perfect either. Just remember to smile and have fun.

Dancing Event Info:

PLACE: Fayetteville Market House

DATE: Wednesday, July 27th

TIME: 6:30pm

Here's a Google map of the location:


The photo at the bottom of this email shows exactly where to meet. You

can also view the image here:


I know Fayetteville is a small town and kind of far for a lot of you.

We looked around to find a suitable spot to dance and this one ended

up at the top of the heap, despite being out of the way. I understand

if you can't make it, especially on a weekday evening and with short

notice, but I hope you can find the time.


If you want to pass this around to friends, there is a Facebook event

page with all the information included in this email. You can view it



Meet-up Info:

When you get to the spot, look for the guy who looks like the guy in

the dancing video. Just come on over, say hello, and ask if I am Matt.

If I'm not Matt, I will let you know.

Before we dance, I will need to get your legal permission to appear in

the video. I'll shout some legal-sounding stuff on camera and you can

just nod and give me a thumbs up if you're okay with it. Kids under

18, please bring a parent or guardian, or at least bring a photo of

one of their thumbs to hold up (just kidding, don't do that)

I can't guarantee the clip we shoot will end up in the final video.

There will be a lot of footage to choose from and some of it will not

be used.

Wearing distinctive clothing will make it easier to spot yourself in

the video, but please do not dress as a licensed character (Mario,

Spider-Man, Sarah Palin) or I will have to blur you and that will make

everyone think you showed up naked or something. Also, please do not

show up naked.

After the event, I'll be selling shirts and books. The T-shirt says "I Danced

With Matt" (so you'll have proof) and the book is about the travels

that went into making the previous "Where the Hell is Matt?" videos.

Everything is $15. Cash only, please. You can also view and order both

items here:


You're welcome to bring your own camera. After the shoot, I'll stick

around for as long as anyone is waiting. I'm happy to dance with you

in your own picture/video, so don't hesitate to ask, but I do request

that you wait until we're finished shooting because I'll be very busy

until then.

If you can, please click "I'm Attending" on Facebook if you plan to

attend, so we have a rough

idea of how many dancers to expect. If you're not on Facebook, don't

worry about it. You're not missing anything.

We're planning to put the final video up on the Internet before the end of 2011.

Want Matt to Come Dance With Your Group?

I'm trying to include all sorts of dances with all kinds of groups

this time, so if you or someone you know is part of a dance group that

is willing to meet up and perform with me, please reply to this email

and I'll see if I can fit it into the schedule. I may not be able to

set something up on this visit,

but if it's a really great opportunity I may try to get in touch with

you later on.

Please understand, though, that my schedule won't allow me to meet up

with everyone, as much as I'd like it to.

Okay, that's everything.

I look forward to dancing badly with you!


Sad as it is - the very first thought to cross my mind was "hoax?" But eventually, I couldn't see the profit in it, so I decided it must be real. I mentioned it to Suzie, who is also a fan of the video. I didn't know if she'd be interested, as Fayetteville is a couple of hours' drive away, and this was a "school night" as we call the evenings through the work week. But she jumped in - raring to go! So, I made plans by taking off a half day so we could have time to get up there. Suzie couldn't get coverage to take a half day, but she managed to schedule an hour off - and on Wednesday July 27th off we went!

The drive was pleasant and uneventful - and we arrived at the spot - the Fayetteville Market House - about a half hour early. Suze and I walked around the area a bit, but it was very hot, so by 6:10 or so we settled in under the shade of the open area of the market house.

Market House, Fayetteville NC

Already present was one couple, an older gentleman, and one younger guy off to the side. After we had sat down the older gentleman introduced himself as Alex and started chatting everyone up - asking where they were from and the like. As we chatted, over the next 10 minutes or so another dozen people arrived, and then in the next five minutes probably double that stepped into the Market House too.

We were joking that it was a hell of a punk if it was a trick, but then, at almost exactly 6:25, Matt Harding came strolling in to the Market House.

There the hell is Matt!

Everyone gathered around as he thanked us all for coming. He had brought his pal Ray to shoot the video - something he hasn't always done, relying on strangers standing nearby to shoot his dancing sequence for him. As Ray walked around the Market House on the opposite sides of the circle street, looking for a suitable spot to shoot from, Matt told us what we'd be doing: dancing! Surprise! Actually he did lay out the rules - the biggest of which was everyone was welcome to appear on camera or watch from the sidelines, but if you chose to be on camera you had to dance. He said he'd done clips where 99 people of 100 would be flailing away, and the 1 not dancing would invariably draw the eye, suck all the life out of the shot, and kill the clip. Luckily we had a good group, and nearly everyone was ready willing and able to...well, maybe not dance, exactly, but try to dance, anyway!

Ray's on the neat portable ladder;
Matt advises from street level.
Ray got set up with the sun at his back, so the prevailing light would be directly on us. (That this also increased the already unpleasant heat bothered us not one bit!) It took a little while to set up, but Matt kept us entertained by mostly hanging with us and riffing on what we were going to do. One problem we had was that the Market House is surrounded by a fairly busy traffic circle, so throughout we were trying to time our dance shots for the moments when there were no cars around. Surprisingly, the longer fifty people dancing were there, the more the traffic increased...I wonder why that was?

Finally it was time to shoot! We had agreed for the first go-round to simply try to do his signature move - which I'd tried at home after a rewatch of the video, ending up with an Epic Fail. However, an evening or two earlier that week I came home to find Suze pulling it off flawlessly, and with her guidance I was already armed with a decent reproduction of The Dance by the time we got to Fayetteville.

We completed that first shot, and Matt took suggestions as to what else we might do. The one thing we did not try that had been suggested and liked was for the crowd to hide around the pillars and supports of the open air market house, then run out into shot to join Matt. I think the multiple levels around the outside scared Matt off - as having fifty people boiling out into shot on three different levels would inevitably have lef to someone crashing and burning. We did have one fall, but she jumped back up with alacrity and I'm not sure Matt even knew it had happened - wonder if he'll see it in editing?

We ended up doing five or six different shots with different dances. I will leave out descriptions of the rest, so that if the clip makes it into the video, perhaps the mad moves we all demonstrate will be a massive surprise for the viewer...

Here are some crappy cell phone pictures of the shoot:

The crowd X 3

Suzie in her dancing finery.

The Man of the Hour, ready to boogie.

The T-Shirt logo.

After we'd finished, Matt told us that while Ray did some huckstering on T-shirts and books, he would be happy to take pictures or videos with anyone who wanted them. We purchased two T-shirts, and then joined the line for pics and vids with Mr. Harding. There were so many people Suze and I didn't want to monopolize the man, so although I mightily wanted a video of the three of us dancing, we settled for a couple of pictures, these taken with Suze's real digital camera. She'd slid into her souvenir shirt as well; Matt and I were making do with our dancing shirts, complete with 90+ degree NC summer sweat stains...

After the pics, Susan and I headed back to the car for the two hour drive back to Wilmington.

We had a great time - and we're thrilled that we might be spottable for a split second in the third Where the Hell is Matt? video if our clip makes the final cut - yeah, not a lot of 'ifs' there! But we had a good time nonetheless. We danced with Matt, and we know where the hell he is. That's plenty.

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Craig, that is AWESOME! That video is amazing. You and Suze are real adventurers! I'm glad it wasn't a hoax. What a wonderful memory. Let us know when the video is available.

  2. Luana - We were BEYOND thrilled that we got this opportunity! It has been quite a year for me in the world of Pop Culture Encounters - from my Friday the 13th shenanigans with Adrienne King (still not finished yet, or so the legend goes) to my yet untold tale of winning a book from legendary Fangoria magazine editor "Uncle" Bob Martin, to dancing with Matt, to one other that shall remain unmentioned until it comes to fruition (if it does). 2011 has been an interesting year! Thanks for commenting!