A social media quest to find a man who had been body-shamed online — for dancing in public without showcasing a perfect figure — created a 24-hour Internet sensation and appeared to succeed Friday, ending in a party planned for the Los Angeles area.
The hunt for “Dancing Man” began Thursday morning.
Twitter user Emma Roid asked her followers to help find him, writing, “Twitter, can we find the man in this photo and tell him that he is beautiful and we love him?”
Along with the tweet, Roid posted a composite screenshot from the Internet forum 4chan, where a user in the United Kingdom posted two photos of a man in a striped shirt — one of him dancing, and a second of him looking glumly at the floor.
“Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week. He stopped when he saw us laughing,” the 4chan user wrote.
Roid’s call to action was retweeted more than 6,000 times. It came a day after the image from the 4chan user was posted on Imgur, an image-sharing service.
A couple of hours after Roid’s tweet, the hashtag #FindDancingMan was born, and soon there were thousands tweeting about the photo. The Twitter conversation in part called for an end to “body-shaming” and online and in-person bullying.
Felicity Morse (@FelicityMorse) March 05, 2015
Several Southern California-based women began tweeting they wanted to bring “Dancing Man” to Los Angeles for a dance party, including one account with nearly 30,000 followers, that of writer Cassandra Rules.
Anyone know this man or who posted this? There's a huge group of ladies in LA who would like to do something special http://t.co/DGbu3AXOrB—
Cassandra (@CassandraRules) March 05, 2015
(@aiiNaa) March 05, 2015
Rachel Weinstein (@xorachelflies) March 05, 2015
In a post on the advocacy website The Free Thought Project, Rules explained that the story was shared with the Coconut Oil Friendship Club, a group that she said “contains nearly 2,000 of Los Angeles’ most inspiring and wonderful ladies.”
“We needed to find him and make things right. Everyone should be free to dance without bullying,” Rules wrote.
The group issued an invitation to “Dancing Man,” saying that 1,727 women were prepared to throw “quite the dance party just for you.”
By early Friday, about 2:30 a.m. Pacific Time, a photo was posted appearing to show the Dancing Man, apparently in London.
In less than an hour, a new Twitter account arrived with the handle @DancingManFound, based in London.
In response to Rules, who promoted the idea of an L.A. dance party, @DancingManFound wrote that he was eager to show off his moves.
Then he tweeted a photo of himself posing, saying he was “in training.”
He wrote that he had to register for Twitter to respond to the viral phenomenon. “Not a tweeter normally,” he wrote.
“Big thanks to all who have tweeted such kind words. Not stopped smiling and laughing,” he tweeted. “Today is a day I have never imagined would happen.”
Rules tweeted that “Dancing Man” was in Kiev, but was free in a couple of weeks.
“My conversation with Sean has restored my faith in humanity,” Rules wrote. “Despite this cruel attempt to shame an innocent man, at the end of our talk, he said, ‘Big-hearted people far outweigh the small minded, every day of the week.’”
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe.com fundraiser began, created by Krista Vitt. The page stated it was meant to raise money to bring Dancing Man — only identified by Twitter users as Sean — to L.A. for the “dance party of a lifetime.”
It had raised more than $9,000 in a few hours, garnering more than 550 contributions by 1 p.m. Pacific Time.