More than two months after being body-shamed and bullied online for dancing in public, a United Kingdom man known as the “Dancing Man” was honored at a party in Hollywood Saturday night.
The event at the Avalon nightclub for Sean O'Brien was the result of an outpouring of public support that began with a simple plea back in March on Twitter to find the “dancing man.”
O’Brien first gained international attention after images of a then-unidentified man being body-shamed on the Internet forum 4chan -- all because he dared to dance in public with a less-than-perfect figure -- sparked an international social media quest.
A composite screenshot of the “Dancing Man” was posted by a 4chan user in the United Kingdom with the caption: “Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week. He stopped when he saw us laughing.”
In one of the images, captured before his tormentors' laughter prompted him to stop, O’Brien is seen happy and dancing. In the other, he is standing still, hands in pocket and head to the ground, a forlorn look painted across his dejected face.
As he arrived at his party Saturday night, O’Brien told KTLA he was unaware he was being photographed at that time.
“I was aware that I was getting commented on, but I wasn’t aware I was getting photographed at all,” he said.
But while some on the Internet may have shamed him, many online users -- among them Emma Roid -- came to his aid.
Roid took to Twitter, posting the 4chan image and imploring her followers to help find the bullied man so they could “tell him that he is beautiful and we love him.”
The tweet eventually spawned the hashtag #FindDancingMan and an international search.
Amid the social media quest, several Southern California-based women – including Cassandra Fairbanks -- began tweeting that they wanted to throw a party for him in Los Angeles.
“I sent out a 25 word tweet, I think, and I did not expect it to go as big as it did,” she told KTLA. “I think that photo resonated with a lot of people, myself included, because everyone’s felt that way.”
From there, people moved by O’Brien’s story worked together to rent out the nightclub and put on a dance party to remember.
A GoFundMe for the party was started online by Krista Vitt on March 6. The fundraising page far surpassed its goal of $20,000, raising more than $40,000.
Funds not used for the #dancingman party would go to an anti-bullying campaign, the page stated.
For his part, O'Brien has been overwhelmed by generosity of others and the attention -- now largely positive -- that the images from one night of dancing garnered.
“Just think, there’s always so many good people in the world, and there’s far more good people than bad. And that’s it, just look at what’s good about you rather than what people think is what’s bad about you ” O’Brien said.