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Dance like everybody's watching
June 20, 2012 11:47 AM   Subscribe

4 years later, Matt Harding has a new Dance Video. Here are his older records of Travel around the World: 2008, 2006 and the original from 2004-5. What a life!

It looks to me a bit like it's becoming the Spencer Tunick projects
posted by growabrain (88 comments total) 67 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for posting this. My kids *love* his videos.

It's also nice to see him branch out to more dance styles. The "stand in one place and do a jig" thing was getting kinda old.
posted by zarq at 11:53 AM on June 20, 2012


I saw this somewhere else and it said it was the last video? Is Matt hanging up his dancing shoes?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:53 AM on June 20, 2012


I can't believe it's already been for years. Since the last one, I haven't crossed the border once. And here he is with a brand new dance atlas. Fuck me.
posted by Think_Long at 11:54 AM on June 20, 2012


Do you know what breaks my fucking heart?

Those ballet dancers in Damascus with their faces blurred out.
posted by R. Schlock at 11:58 AM on June 20, 2012 [24 favorites]


brb, going to Trinidad
posted by jquinby at 11:59 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


He made it to Manchester!
posted by 13twelve at 12:00 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been so fucking jealous of this life style ever since I saw it first time 8 years ago. it boggles my mind what this guy had been doing
posted by growabrain at 12:01 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Matt's videos always remind me how much I love people. I always get misty-eyed when I watch them and they never fail to inspire me to consider deeper the ties that bind us all on this planet in this immense journey the human race is taking together.

It's hard to imagine a more profound sense of global community than the one I get from these videos. This is true art. Thank you.
posted by darkstar at 12:02 PM on June 20, 2012 [29 favorites]


Okay, I'll buy the fucking gum, just stop having a way better life than me asshole
posted by notmydesk at 12:03 PM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


These always make me cry, for the same reason they make darkstar misty. These, and the Discovery Channel "The World Is Just Awesome" videos.
posted by Kpele at 12:07 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The "stand in one place and do a jig" thing was getting kinda old.

OTOH, they made for smoother cuts between places.
posted by kenko at 12:09 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love the mountains,
I love the clear blue skies

posted by growabrain at 12:10 PM on June 20, 2012


Wrote a short something about the most recent two videos (2008, 2012) and what they might say about how we're using the internet to connect across borders and cultures.
posted by obruni at 12:17 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ah, that makes my day. Thanks for posting it here - only 308 views as of right now!
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:24 PM on June 20, 2012


Why do I love these things so much?
posted by Blake at 12:27 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


without throwing out the formula, which clearly still works, there's a lot of complexity in this new video. i like it.

the blurred faces in damascus, the north koreans laughing at the funny american, the choreography on the carrier deck.

.. but what gets me the most is the last shot. it says something about that feeling of *home* that's made only more powerful by the torrent of the unfamiliar and familiarity that precedes it. living in seattle, that feeling is especially on the nose for me.

yes, the video makes be want to go places and see things but it also leaves me appreciating the wealth of things that aren't "out there" just as much.
posted by striatic at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Pissed as hell I didn't know he was coming to Cambridge! And yet, still one of the most motivational things I've ever watched.
posted by scolbath at 12:30 PM on June 20, 2012


Wow, just found this on his site:

http://www.wherethehellismatt.com/give/

What a guy! Charities for six organizations that made the videos, as well as Amnesty International for the Syrian dancers.
posted by scolbath at 12:32 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Aw man, I missed the one in Manchester. I laughed out loud four times during that video, this guy rocks the whole world.
posted by fearnothing at 12:33 PM on June 20, 2012


I was all set to pooh-pooh this, saying "Not another one, again." But, having watched it, I'm say "Yeah, another one."
posted by ericb at 12:35 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


And, oh, North Korea! Wonder what he had to do to be allowed entry.
posted by ericb at 12:37 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


That made me happy. I've been very *very* lucky in that I get to travel a lot in the course of finishing my degree, and I also love dance. Every country I've been in, asking someone to teach me how to dance in a particular style (Giriyama and Gikuyu in Kenya, salsa and lambada in Peru, Oubi and Guere in Cote d'Ivoire) has given us a really strong connection. And what's been awesome is that I was able to teach a uniquely American dance in return - swing! I loved this video in a something-in-my-eye kind of way. Everybody moves in some way.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:39 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


My allergies haven't flared up this bad since 2008. Damn these leaking eyes!
posted by PapaLobo at 12:39 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting note -- the singer of that song was one of my music campers many years ago :)
posted by Madamina at 12:40 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yup; I'll hold off on watching this until i get home; so my allergies don't strike here at the desk.
posted by NiteMayr at 12:41 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another crack in my wall of cynicism.

Thank you growabrain it was through your site that I first found metafilter.
posted by pianomover at 12:41 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Absolute genius.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:42 PM on June 20, 2012


MATT HARDING: I did technically go into North Korea. I’m standing about three metres past the borderline in the latest video but I didn’t actually go into North Korea, which is just it takes some time and some red tape cutting to do it and so I couldn’t this time.

ANDREW DENTON: Actually that scene in the video where you’re dancing in the demilitarised zone with that guard just looking at you, what do you think he made of what you were doing?

MATT HARDING: Well, he was actually a South Korean guard and his job is to keep tourists who go to see the demilitarised zone from defecting into North Korea and he’s doing a sort of a tae kwon do pose, so he probably you know once he was off duty he might have gone home and laughed about it but at the time his job is just to be a a immovable mountain.

ANDREW DENTON: I just love the thought that you went through that door and 50 years later, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans come dancing over the border.

MATT HARDING: Some day, maybe.*
posted by ericb at 12:43 PM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ditto to darkstar and kpele in watching these make me misty-eyed. As I first commented to a friend on watching these a few years ago along the lines of "No matter where we come from there are far more similarities between us all than there are differences."
posted by Randwulf at 12:46 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know these have (or had) a commercial reason behind them, but they always make me cry. I love anything that shows people all over the world are basically the same.
posted by xingcat at 12:48 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I'll ever be able to watch these videos without crying. A good professor friend likes to show the 2008 version at the beginning of her world history classes, and as her frequent TA I was usually the one up in front of the class when we played the video. It got pretty embarrassing when I just started weeping in front of 100+ freshmen on the first day of class. Every. Time.
posted by lilac girl at 12:49 PM on June 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Thank you, thank you! I love his videos and have since the first. So happy there's a new one! I'll have to show it to my lil sparkle when I get home.

The one from 2008 always, always chokes me up. Just something about humans dancing together with utmost abandon and those not-quite solitary moments knit together that really hits me right in the ol' ticker. The others make me smile and sometimes get a little misty, but '08 is super-strength.

...and then, thought I, I'll go ahead and watch these right now! Gosh, I deserve a break right now, and these are always so uplifting! But...wait. I know '08 really affects me, so I'll just treat myself to '12 after a bit of YT-nostalgia.

And now, after only watching the first minute, I'm already reaching for a tissue and hoping no one walks by my cube for a bit.

Good on Matt for taking this to the next level. The evolution of his original idea has been a lovely and uplifting thing to witness.
posted by batmonkey at 12:49 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh god well if that was just the warm-fuzzy I needed.

Tiny ballerinas in Belgrade made me giggle.
posted by jph at 12:51 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Incredible. At times I feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness for the planet and humans in general... the fighting, the hate. Watching this video, and his old ones in the past, gives a sense of hope...
posted by greenhornet at 1:02 PM on June 20, 2012


Actually, he did make it all the way into North Korea this time. From his blog:

I look forward to answering the "how did you get into North Korea?" question about a million times once the video is done.

The answer, by the way, is "with baffling ease." You go to a site called google.com. You type in "North Korea tour," and you click on the first thing that pops up. You fill out some forms, you pay some money, and you're in.

posted by artemisia at 1:05 PM on June 20, 2012


Damn. There is something deeply, deeply powerful about all of this. About the joy of coming together, about the music and the dancing and the people. The people from everywhere - happy flash mobs and secret dancers and a mix of places I know and places I only know from headlines about war, death and poverty... the world is so huge, and yet we are all connected.

And it is beautiful. People are beautiful. Sometimes it can be impossible to believe, but sometimes we're not such a bad bunch, after all. Not when we dance.
posted by harujion at 1:06 PM on June 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is what I love: the song he used for his first two videos uses a clip from an ethnomusicologist's field recording in the Solomon Islands. When Deep Forest had a big hit with it, they caught some shit for basically ripping off this Solomon Islands singer who'd never known her voice would get used in this fashion. Matt was unaware of this until he got a little of the shit himself.

But what Matt did when he found out about the controversy was: he tracked down the identity of the woman, and on his 2008 tour he made a side trip to visit her village and find out whether she was still alive (she wasn't, but he publicized her name). Then on this trip, he went back again and paid all her grandkids' tuitions at the local mission school as means of "paying her her royalties." Granted, he notes in his blog that "it was a little more than my cable bill," but still, the fact that he even thought to do that in the first place says a lot.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:12 PM on June 20, 2012 [30 favorites]


warms the cockles, it does.
posted by crunchland at 1:18 PM on June 20, 2012


Well now, didn't that just make me feel like a jaded fuckface.
posted by item at 1:20 PM on June 20, 2012


It's funny, I was buying gum the other day and I thought, "If they had Stride, I'd buy it because those cool 'Where's Matt?' videos." But there was no Stride (insert sad face.)

(I want to know what's up with the Hanbok-wearing women in Prague!)
posted by vespabelle at 1:27 PM on June 20, 2012


But what Matt did when he found out about the controversy was: he tracked down the identity of the woman, and on his 2008 tour he made a side trip to visit her village and find out whether she was still alive (she wasn't, but he publicized her name). Then on this trip, he went back again and paid all her grandkids' tuitions at the local mission school as means of "paying her her royalties." Granted, he notes in his blog that "it was a little more than my cable bill," but still, the fact that he even thought to do that in the first place says a lot.

Makes him a better man than Brian Eno, then.
posted by mykescipark at 1:28 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this. The 2008 version makes me tear up every single time.

Watching these always makes me think that, no matter how evil and fucked up the world can be, it's ultimately an awesome place - including the people who live in it.
posted by Salieri at 1:29 PM on June 20, 2012


Really, I am a worse person than the sentimental people above. I was just like "shit, why can't I make a viral video and then TRAVEL AROUND THE WORLD!". Good job on living the dream, Matt.
posted by bquarters at 1:31 PM on June 20, 2012


Yay, Matt! And what a perfect ending.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 1:33 PM on June 20, 2012


Thank god I'm working from home. I was already predisposed to be misty from reading the comments here and I completely lost it when he was on Robben Island.
posted by rtha at 1:34 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Heck, just remembering the 2008 video can choke me up. Thank you for posting this, growabrain. I had no idea he was doing another one.
posted by straight at 1:42 PM on June 20, 2012


The Beijing one is my favourite because that is literally what every day of my stay there encompassed.
posted by elizardbits at 1:46 PM on June 20, 2012


Know what's nice about these... they are exactly what they are, they don't claim to be more or less. About as honest a viral video as you'll see on the net.
posted by HuronBob at 1:50 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


With Matt's previous three videos my Huge-Grin to Balling-Like-A-Baby ratio was 1:2.

Happy to report that ratio now stands at 2:2.
posted by I Havent Killed Anybody Since 1984 at 2:14 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Loved the fact that he made it to the world's troubled spots, to Tahrir Square (not in the video I think, but he mentions it in the blog), to Syria, to Lebanon, Kabul, Iraq, and so on. My moment was when he was robot-dancing in Iraq; that's such a brilliant visual that I can't even begin to describe.

That, and the fact that each location seemed to be responding to the previous one, and the fact that he introduced his family in the end... it's a great way to grow up with him, as it were. Fantastic stuff.
posted by the cydonian at 2:23 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


there was some really gross ugly sobbing going on when I saw him dancing with his family, I gotta tell you.

My favourite part was the little old granny dancing in Taiwan. Badass.
posted by zennish at 2:31 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It feels awesome to know that I'm not the only one who tears up at these videos. :)

There's a moment in 2008 right here that gets me every time.

But the more I watch this one, the more I love it. Love the tiny Serbian ballerinas. :D

There's much more synchronized movement, and especially at the end where they show different groups reaching out, there's an illusion that they're each reaching towards each other. You get an even stronger feeling that everyone is, all human beings are the same, everywhere. Plus the end of is perfect.
posted by zarq at 2:31 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


He filmed in Minneapolis; didn't make it into the final cut, it seems. I wrote about it, though.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:41 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


zarq, me too for the 2008 video. The first time I saw it, I was at work and trying to hold in tears, and that little bit of unexpected movement in unison made me literally cry out, which brought in coworkers from next door. So much for stealthy desk crying.
posted by donnagirl at 2:47 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I really really love this guy. My favorite scenes this time were the juggling children in Afghanistan and the laughing North Koreans.

Also, there was much secret tearbending at work; thank goodness I'm one of the last people here today.
posted by ashirys at 2:47 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Rewatched them all back to back. There's nothing else to say but Fuck it all, people are beautiful.
posted by donnagirl at 2:57 PM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I know these have (or had) a commercial reason behind them

Beginning with the second one he's gotten travel underwriting from the gum people, yes, but he does it for himself -- he's always traveled this way, it's just that one day he started doing his self-admittedly stupid dance and decided to do one everywhere he went. Since then they've taken on more purpose for him.

I did actually like in the prior ones, especially 2008, how he encouraged people to be making up their own stupid dance moves. There's something related yet dissimilar about having people dance in unison; I don't think it violates the spirit of the project, but it didn't have the precise same effect on me. Still, there is no question that Matt Harding is a tremendous humanist lives out the lessons that travel teaches you.
posted by dhartung at 3:00 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's something related yet dissimilar about having people dance in unison; I don't think it violates the spirit of the project, but it didn't have the precise same effect on me.
I initially had the same reaction, but upon, um, subsequent viewingS I realized that the establishing shots of the video show Matt either teaching or being taught how to synchronize movement.

I realized that perhaps that one of the strongest messages of this video is that education is also meant to be a universal message.
posted by PapaLobo at 3:36 PM on June 20, 2012


From ericb's link:
It’s silliness is something we all pretty much get. It was a neat way to be able to connect with people who I wouldn’t have had a lot to say to, even if I did speak Hooley or if they spoke any English. We could just dance and you know have a good time.
posted by Chuckles at 3:39 PM on June 20, 2012


Thanks made my day/week/year. This should be played as the evening news every night on every channel for a month. People sometimes need to be reminded of how much joy can be found in ourselves and each other.
posted by pdxpogo at 4:18 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's something related yet dissimilar about having people dance in unison; I don't think it violates the spirit of the project, but it didn't have the precise same effect on me.

I liked this was a really good article about Matt and it touches upon this topic:
I heard Matt speak at TED in 2009, and it was clear that something still wasn’t quite working for him with the dancing videos. Performing a goofy dance in front of people who’ve got rich and sophisticated dance traditions is a bit like backpacking around the world while eating only McDonalds.
posted by Staggering Jack at 5:25 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Great video(s), but c'mon, where's New Orleans?
posted by zangpo at 6:04 PM on June 20, 2012


HE MADE IT TO PUERTO RICO!!!!!!!
*sniff* i miss home
posted by liza at 6:05 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I remember some people being sort of cynical about the last one because it was sponsored by a gum company. I wouldn't care if it was sponsored by Exxon, these really seem to make people happy. (Though I also felt a pang of sadness for the blurred-out Syrian dancers.)
posted by desjardins at 6:10 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


but c'mon, where's New Orleans?
At 1:44?
posted by PapaLobo at 6:41 PM on June 20, 2012


I did actually like in the prior ones, especially 2008, how he encouraged people to be making up their own stupid dance moves. There's something related yet dissimilar about having people dance in unison; I don't think it violates the spirit of the project, but it didn't have the precise same effect on me.

It is the difference between the joy of spontaneous exuberance in action and the joy of satisfaction in work done well. They're both joy. They're just different flavours of it.
posted by mightygodking at 6:41 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Matt for president of the world.
posted by pashdown at 7:25 PM on June 20, 2012


Dresden is the one that did me in. Flashed on a young Kurt Vonnegut/Billy Pilgrim wandering around the ruins of the city so many years ago, coming unstuck in time long enough to get a glimpse of the beaming dancers.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:34 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


The next time one of these is launched into space to tell extra-terrestrial beings about us, I'd like these videos to be included.
posted by marsha56 at 7:58 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh yeah, thanks.
posted by zangpo at 8:58 PM on June 20, 2012


Oh, zarq, I knew exactly what moment you meant before I even clicked. Makes me burst into tears every time. Well.... MORE tears.

I love these videos so much. I tried to watch this at work today and did a 'watch five seconds... pause... collect self...' through the whole thing.
posted by whitneyarner at 9:09 PM on June 20, 2012


There are plenty of things that make me think "Wow, people are beautiful."

This guy "dancing" around the world isn't one of them :)
posted by ReeMonster at 9:29 PM on June 20, 2012


What I like is the evolution or progression of awesome. It starts with cool places to visit, on to less famous/well-known places, included the audience, and now broadened into different dances.
posted by CancerMan at 10:10 PM on June 20, 2012


Is it my imagination, or does this one have a much larger percentage of scenes in the USA than the previous one?
posted by straight at 8:25 AM on June 21, 2012


Oh wow. I had no idea he was making another one of these! And just And literally just yesterday one of my friends linked the 2008 video and I commented about how I keep a copy of it on my iPhone just in case I ever need a sort of emergency shot of happiness.

I love the sort of "doing the wave" that gets passed across countries, and how after all the big spectacle, it ends in his backyard with mom and baby. So cool!
posted by dnash at 9:07 AM on June 21, 2012


I've seen enough of Matt's blog to know he's a two-faced, sneering asshole.
posted by ambient2 at 12:27 PM on June 21, 2012


On a similar feel-good theme: 21 pictures that will restore your faith in humanity.
posted by darkstar at 12:42 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Amazing that he has enough time to maintain Metafilter and make these dancing videos.

What? Someone had to say it.
posted by jourman2 at 12:44 PM on June 21, 2012


I've seen enough of Matt's blog to know he's a two-faced, sneering asshole.

In what way? I'd never read his blog, but yesterday I read back until the 2008 video was about to be released, and I didn't find him to be two-faced at all. He doesn't like Fox News, but I don't think he has ever pretended to.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:59 PM on June 21, 2012


I don't get misty-eyed watching this -- I have tears actually dropping off my face. Because I am a big softy and few things make me cry -- happily! -- like seeing people make connections with other people.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:12 PM on June 21, 2012


> I've seen enough of Matt's blog to know he's a two-faced, sneering asshole

You really ought to back statements like that up with a link or two.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:49 PM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's one thing which bothers me about this one: the song is, structurally, the same song as in the 2008 video. I have a sneaking suspicion that if you played the two simultaneously, like people did with the Nickleback singles, they'd fit together exactly. I haven't done that and I'm not going to try...

...because I'm yet another person who has tears running down his face *every time* I watch the 2008 one, partially because the music knocks me sideways. I really really want to like this new one, and yes it works in as much seeing all the happy people from all over the world makes me get teary, but it seems to me a little like someone tried to write a song which would have the same impact as the last song and ended up just writing the same song.

But apart from that - damn cool stuff. 10 points for dancing with a seal. And the bouncy people on the boat in Hungary, and the dude on Robben Island... hard to pick a favourite visual...
posted by illongruci at 2:55 PM on June 21, 2012


I found it a little strange that the New Orleans clip had no black people. Not being that guy, but just saying. . .not that you can claim racism because, well, the entire video.
posted by ChipT at 3:32 PM on June 21, 2012


If anyone's trying to recover from the happy tears brought on by the dancing clips, you may enjoy his outtakes from the second video.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:14 PM on June 21, 2012


National Geographic: Behind the Scenes with Where the Hell is Matt 2012
In honor of the new dancing-around-the-world video by Matt Harding (Where The Hell is Matt?), I’m releasing some never-before-seen photos of Matt at work. I know, because I took them! I got to spend 22 hours aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of California last August, part of a blogger group that included Matt Harding, Jeremiah Owyang, Susan Etlinger, Calvin Lee, Shira Lazar, and other digital luminaries. The highlight of the trip was watching Matt invent a dance. First he had the officers teach him the signals they use to keep pilots from crashing their F-18s on the flight deck. After choreographing a dance based on those signals, he taught the number to the initially skeptical and later jubilant sailors. He didn’t have much time because we were scheduled to fly off the ship on a cargo plane via catapult that morning, but he rehearsed it and filmed it in about 30 minutes, start to finish.

posted by zarq at 8:57 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is it my imagination, or does this one have a much larger percentage of scenes in the USA than the previous one?

Here are the maps for where he danced, by year. I do not believe all of these pins made the cut, though.

2005: 4 US locations, 21 total locations, 19%
2006: 6 US locations, 35 total locations, 17.1%
2008: 11 US locations, 59 total locations, 18.6%
2012: 17 US locations (including Puerto Rico!), 72 total locations, 22.4%
posted by zarq at 9:18 PM on June 21, 2012


I have a feeling trying to travel with a kid explains why some of the locations were closer to home than usual.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:51 AM on June 22, 2012


Ask Him Anything
posted by Winnemac at 7:40 PM on June 22, 2012


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