torgospizza476 karma

Why were the Syrian dancers' faces blurred in your 2012 video?

BadDancer1423 karma

It was a sticky issue that I agonized over for months as I watched the news in Syria get worse and worse. I filmed those clips back in July of 2010, about 6 months before the Arab Spring.

At the time, the dancers were fine with appearing in the video. When things turned bad, I was unsure whether contacting them would put them in jeopardy, and I couldn't find any other way to reach out to them.

In the end, I decided to use the footage but keep them thoroughly blurred for their safety.

I made the decision not to cut the footage out, because it spoke so directly to what the video is about for me.

To be clear, it's not a matter of religious conservatism. As I understand it, Syria is relatively liberal about things like men and women dancing together. It's more of a political issue. Their government is just killing people willly nilly at this point.

fish629373 karma

How did you get into North Korea? Hell, how did you get out of North Korea?

BadDancer697 karma

Whenever you hear about someone going into North Korea, they tend to make it seem like a big deal -- like they outsmarted someone in snuck in under barbed wire.

I can't comment on their experiences, but for me it was absurdly simple and not a big deal. I paid Koryo Tours, which is a North Korean tour company out of Beijing, then I went out to Beijing, met up with my group, and we all hopped on a plane to Pyongyang just like any tour group that goes any place else.

Don't get me wrong. North Korea is super-weird, but it's not like they won't let anyone in. They would LOVE as many tourist dollars as you're willing to give them. That's true of just about everywhere, by the way.

matthew858337 karma

Have you ever gotten in trouble for dancing/wanting to dance somewhere in particular, such as accidentally on private property where the owner wasn't too keen?

BadDancer705 karma

I got hauled off to the police station in Athens for dancing in front of the Parthenon. A nearby defender of Greece's cultural heritage demanded that I delete the footage from my camera. I refused. It escalated.

benwubbleyou257 karma

Love the videos and stuff that you are doing. Can you just acknowledge I exist?

BadDancer444 karma

Hi Ben!

powlsy250 karma

What's the most moving comment/reaction you have had from your video/s?

BadDancer744 karma

So when I spend a couple years making a video with thousands of people in it, a number of them are bound to have passed away by the time it comes out. Last night I heard from the mother of a 20 year old who danced with me in Fayetteville, North Carolina in a shot that I ended up cutting from the video. He was killed in a motorcycle accident about a week after we danced and that footage is most likely the last that exists of him.

That is pretty hard to deal with.

intensenerd226 karma

How does it feel to know you bring grown men to tears?

BadDancer276 karma


endoalir209 karma

Where are you?

BadDancer331 karma

Seattle, Washington.

hburger180 karma

How did you muster up the courage to climb on to AND dance on Kjeragbolten?!

BadDancer239 karma

I don't know. I'm not the kind of person who does stuff like that, actually. I think by the end of that 6 months of travel I was feeling kind of invulnerable. I would never do something that stupid again.

Okay, so you may have just read the North Korea story. Debatable. But I always tell myself I'd never do something that stupid again.

GiantBatFart179 karma

How in the name of Nuclear-Missile-Launching-Insane-And-Bloated-Communist-Dictators did you manage to dance in the middle of a large crowd in Pyongyang without getting arrested?

BadDancer690 karma

I timed my visit during Kim Jon Il's birthday -- what turned out to be his last birthday, actually.

They have these mass dances where they bring thousands of people out into the street in fancy dress to do these kinda silly, childish dances together.

Attending the mass dance was easy, but joining in and filming it was not. The North Korean tour guides nodded when I explained what I wanted to do. They were like, "whatever," but in Korean. Then when it came time for me to film, they were like, "shut up and get on the bus," but in Korean.

I looked over at the Brit guide who was with our group. He knew why I was there and what I wanted to do and he just kinda mouthed the word, "Go."

So I ran out into the group of North Korean dancers, opened my tripod and plopped the camera down, and just started doing their dance.

The North Koreans immediately broke out in stitches. They thought it was hysterical, and their laughter kind of short circuited the security apparatus. All the guards just stood there not knowing what to do, cause everyone was staring at me and laughing and I'm going to go out on a limb and say I don't think that happens very often.

So I knew as long as I kept dancing, we were sort of at a stalemate, but I didn't have a shot unless I could get someone to dance with me. So I kept going and then finally this one woman stepped out of the group, bowed in front of me, and joined in.

The courage of that woman. The courage!

Anyway, we were shut down and I was put on the bus, but it blew over pretty quickly and no one cared about going after my footage or anything. It was ultimately no big deal.

At least for me. I hope she's okay.

capt_ishmael167 karma

In your original video, who were those girls you were dancing with in Tokyo? The ones dressed up us French maids.

BadDancer822 karma

Those were meido cafe girls. My host in Tokyo was taking me around the city and he asked me what I wanted to do.

I said show me something uniquely Tokyo-ish.

He asked if I wanted to go to a Meido coffee shop.

I said, "what's that?"

He said, "It's a cafe with girls who dress up like french maids."

"And?" I said.

"And they talk to you."

"And?" I said.

"And they play board games with you."

"And?" I said.

"That's it. Just talking and board games."

I said, "Okay, you better take me there immediately."

So we went and it was exactly what he said. We played a Pirates of the Caribbean board game where you had to stick a sword in a barrel and avoid making Jack Sparrow pop out. If you won, you got a piece of chocolate. If you lost, you had to wear silly kitten ears.

Our meido girl asked me what I do. My host, Daisuke, explained, "He is...famous American dancer."

The girl paused and step back. She covered her mouth with her hand, then screamed, "YOUUUUUTUUUUUUBA!"

So all the other girls came around and they all had autograph books and I asked if they wanted to dance with me and they did and it's in the video. The End.

karmarunr157 karma

Everyone -- he has a FAQ page that covers a lot of the questions I'm seeing here.

Hi Matt -- I love your videos and I've read your book (albeit I lucked out because it was randomly for free on the Kindle store). Congratulations on seeing so much of the world. If I make it to even a quarter of all the places you've been to, I'd consider myself very fortunate. And the latest video is wonderful, though my personal favorite is still the one from 2008.

A few questions:

  • Where is a place you have never been to that you would love to visit/explore?
  • What is the least favorite place that you have traveled to?
  • What do you have planned to do next? Another video? (Do you think you could even top this last one?) Settling down for a job?

And congratulations on the recent addition to your family.

BadDancer157 karma

1) Iran. Actually, Mars, then the moon, then Iran. 2) Come on. You're just trying to get me in trouble. I already got into that and I shouldn't have. 3) Tough question. I never know what I'm doing next when I finish something, cause I've spent so much time and energy thinking about the thing I just finished. What's nice is I don't really have to know for a while. If this video turns out to be successful, I can hopefully coast on it for a while :)

Secret7000153 karma

Have these experiences given you a better outlook on humanity as a whole? A lot of the news we hear about far off places is pretty depressing, for some reason.

BadDancer764 karma


The thing is, you hear about the noisy stuff.

Ever heard the expression "man bites dog?" I won't explain it here, but it's that. It's sort of a general misunderstanding about the way media works and what it's for.

The media isn't actually designed to give you an accurate picture of what the world is like. It's just telling you when shit is going down. It's exactly like a nervous system. Your body doesn't tell you about the parts that aren't hurting.

What I've found is really going on right now is this: the world is less violent, more open, and more healthy than it's ever been in the history of civilization. Our brains just aren't designed to see things that way.

Controversial opinion, I know. Look up a guy named Steven Pinker

rushilanirudh150 karma

In all your experiences, what was the strangest reaction you got when you told someone about what you were doing?

BadDancer627 karma

I was on a flight to Tokyo to shoot a Visa commercial and I got to talking to the guy in the seat in front of me. He was incredibly friendly -- he actually made my whole row switch seats so that my partner, Melissa, and I could sit next to each other.

So we were talking and he asked what I do. I started explaining and he said "Wait, are you famous?" And as soon as he asked it hit me and I said, "Wait, are you Kenny G?"

He said, "Yeah. And you're the dancing guy?!"

That was a weird flight. Like I said, incredibly nice guy.

Also, he carries all his clarinets with him in the overhead.

Wrexis147 karma

What do you do when you're not dancing?

Love your 2008 video in particular btw. Showed it to a bunch of work colleagues a few years ago and we all got a bit misty and hugged.

/30 year old.

BadDancer343 karma

Lately, a lot of Arkham City and diaper-changing.

Not my diapers, mind you.

Skico42134 karma

No question but just wanted to say that I watched your second video shortly after it came out and was totally inspired to do something similar. A few years later after saving up a bit of money, I left on my own trip and didn't come back for a year and a half.

Thanks for making that video... It didn't change my life but the trip it inspired me to take absolutely did.

BadDancer84 karma


02coamat124 karma

Where is your favourite place to dance? Dancefloor or Mountain Top?

BadDancer245 karma

Oh, mountaintop for sure, provided there's enough oxygen.

[deleted]122 karma

Have you seen the Collegehumor video, "Where the Hell is Matt's Girlfriend?" I want to know what the man himself thinks of it.

BadDancer488 karma

I think it's annoying when you have to pretend to find something funny because if you don't, people will think you're upset about it.

The main thing that got my back up is this: Where was she? She was holding the camera.

We were flattered to be spoofed. I just wish it had been more clever.

intensenerd110 karma

What's the most unexpected thing/person you've run into in your dancing and traveling?

BadDancer375 karma

Dave Chappelle in the Galapagos.

viishrugged106 karma


BadDancer461 karma

Beats working.

dang4697 karma

Pelvic thrust or back dat ass up?

BadDancer284 karma

I suppose, when cornered, I'm a thruster.

BadDancer280 karma

Does that make me a top?

JosephPhoenix97 karma

What's your occupation and how did you afford to go to all those places in the video?

BadDancer231 karma

This is my occupation. My last two videos were sponsored by Stride gum. After that I did some endorsement deals, the biggest being an ad campaign for Visa about prepaid travel cards. They're short, funny TV ads that air mostly in Asia and the Middle East. You can see one of them on the bottom of the videos page on my site.

Those ads pretty much funded the 2012 video.

Sauce_Pain82 karma

Is it true that the Destroy All Humans video game is a result of a completely unserious pitch you made?

BadDancer176 karma

Well, I make it out like it was a sarcastic joke, but it was only half-sarcastic. Our project had just gotten canned and all publishers wanted at that point was pitches for Grand Theft Auto knock-offs, so I said "How about a game where you just kill everybody?"

They thought that sounded like a good idea. I didn't, really.

fauxman81 karma

I'm sad that your username is BadDancer. A Dancer is someone who can invoke emotion through movement. That's pretty much exactly what your videos do. It should be called "AmazingDancer"

BadDancer221 karma

AmazingDancer was taken, as was AmazingDancer69 and AmazingDancerFTW.

alfreako79 karma

What was the most difficult shot to get on this latest video?

BadDancer227 karma

North Korea. I said it's easy to get in. I didn't say it's easy to dance with 400 North Koreans.

Also, Gaza is a HUGE pain in the ass to get into. You pretty much have to be an internet dancing sensation to make it happen.

And Saudi Arabia. Well, that's a really weird story.

hburger78 karma

If you could have done one thing differently from one trip, what would it be?

BadDancer251 karma

I would have done Gaza differently. I wouldn't have tried to dance outside on a bombed-out runway in 110 degree heat while 10,000 Palestinian kids tried to break the Guinness record for simultaneous basketball dribbling.

Long story.

TheSmarach59 karma

How'd you come up with the idea of "Dancing Matt"?

I want to know how someone just says to them selves "It'd be cool to record myself dancing awkwardly all over the world" and then actually does it.

BadDancer93 karma

First part: easy. Second part: harder.

musicforwords53 karma

You've been to so many different countries, what are your best travel tips?

BadDancer142 karma

Altoids. For some reason, everyone, everywhere, in every culture, will gladly take an Altoid when you offer one.

torgospizza43 karma

Thanks for doing the AMA. With all these opportunities to visit new places, how much are you able to experience the local cultures, food, sights, etc.?

BadDancer118 karma

Not as much as I'd like. I have a family at home now, so I move as fast as I can. These videos started out as a way for me to have an amazing time and see the world. These days it's much more about creating something that says what I want to say about the world, and about life.

I've gotten to see so much of the world and I feel very fortunate. But now I try to be home as much as possible. That feels like where I should be.

onebyonebyone40 karma

One clip of yours that always gets to me in a weird happy but sad way is the clip where you are dancing with the Rwandan (?) kids in the 2006 version. Do you ever feel emotional when doing these videos about the fact you are bringing people together and adding a slice of joy to there life?

I always saw your videos as happy sadness and a reflection of the true beauty of the world, both in location and in humanity. I'm probably just looking into it too deeply, but how do you own videos make you feel?

BadDancer68 karma

It's going to sound terribly pretentious if I get too deep into it, but yeah, there's always a touch of sadness in the videos. Especially in the 2012 one. You've got to acknowledge the darkness, because it's there and you can't pretend it's not.

We do this because we're here and it's all we can do. That's my attitude.

kolnidur37 karma

How much time do you get to spend in each place that you dance in? Do you fly in, catch a cab to a site and dance, or do you get to spend a few days to a week in each spot? Obviously it would be different for areas like Africa where you might have to take a long time to travel to the spots you're going to dance in, but what about a place like a major European city?

BadDancer85 karma

Exactly. You can move very quickly in Europe and North America, so I don't spend long in any one place there.

Africa. The South Pacific. You've gotta put some time in at each destination.

One big upside to what I do, though: I get to meet hundreds of wonderful people in each place I go, and they take me out for dinner and drinks and show me around, so I get to make great use of the short time I have in each spot.

Kirsham36 karma

If you were to do something akin to this again, which two-three countries/places would you be most eager to visit?

BadDancer88 karma

Iran and Cuba.

Beezle36 karma

Any plans on writing a book or something about your travels?

BadDancer130 karma

I wrote a book a few years ago. It's for sale in my store. No one cared.

[deleted]33 karma


BadDancer42 karma

I've never been to Wales.

optimusid33 karma

Of all the songs you've used in your music videos, which one is your favourite?

BadDancer78 karma

Ooh. Tough. It's too soon. I need some distance on the new one before I can answer that.

YolkoOhno32 karma

How much does it cost you to travel everywhere you do, and how do you get the funds to do so?

BadDancer93 karma

1) I don't know. I hired a travel assistant and gave her my credit card cause I don't want to know how much I'm spending. 2) I earn it from, funnily enough, traveling and dancing.

dylanstalker32 karma

How do you afford all the traveling you do?

BadDancer282 karma

International jewel thief.

whatwetalkabout28 karma


BadDancer56 karma

1) Get famous on the internet. 1a) Avoid buying the same piece of black rolly luggage everyone else has. 2) Only when I'm already dancing. I'm rarely recognized otherwise.

awkwardhug27 karma

Does hearing the song from your first video still send you chills? After all these years, every time I hear it it's like time stands still.

BadDancer47 karma

Which one is my first video? When people say my first, odds are pretty good they're talking about what I call my third.

Chills? Try listening to it a couple thousand more times than I have. You'll start getting the bad kind of chills.

BadDancer37 karma

...ahem..."like I have" not "than I have".

random01234525 karma

  • Did you ever fear for your life in any of your trips?

  • Are there any locations we as Americans would be shocked to know what they're really like compared to what we perceived them as? Such as, are there any that you felt more in danger or less in danger than you thought before you got there; or, they're less different from our own cultures than we may think?

  • I know that North Korea has been answered how you got there, but what about Kabul, Afghanistan? Is there actual tourism there now?

Thanks for doing these videos! Easily the most beautiful things on the internet that will always put a smile on my face every time I watch them to remember that regardless of all of the bad in the world, we're all still human and we all deep down just want to dance and have fun.

BadDancer51 karma

Across the board, I'd say every place is much safer than we're led to believe. I've never had my life or health threatened in any way that I can recall.

I had a wonderful time in Kabul, honestly. I'm not saying it's all cotton candy and pop tarts there. I'm just saying I had a great time over five days hanging out with Afghan kids who were learning how to juggle and perform acrobatics.

I got to wander around the markets a bit and visit the gardens. No troubles AT ALL. Never saw a single member of the US military after I left the airport. They were all in their bases and I guess I missed any patrols that were happening.

This was in July of 2010.

Redditismygf21 karma

So how many countries have you been to ? Is your passport full ? Love your videos matt, cant wait for the next one.

BadDancer60 karma

I hit 100 countries working on this video and then I stopped counting. It was getting silly.

I have a stack of 6 passports, I think. All full. When I'm making a video, I apply for a second passport, which anyone can do, you just have to write them a letter explaining that you need it.

I travel on one passport while the other is being sent around to collect any visas I might need. Then I come home and swap them for the next trip.

I have an assistant, Ranee Stewart, who takes care of this stuff for me.

Flipperbw19 karma

Of all the places you've been so far, which one is your favorite / stood out the most?

BadDancer61 karma

I don't have a favorite, but the most remarkable places I've been are:

  • Bhutan
  • Namibia
  • Mongolia
  • Antarctica
  • The Federated States of Micronesia
  • North Korea
  • Madagascar
  • The Maldives

There are a few more worth mentioning, I'm sure.

GoodAaron18 karma

While dancing is a fun and joyous act, did you ever find yourself traveling in impoverished or downtrodden areas or third-world countries where you felt dancing would be inappropriate? What did you do instead when traveling in those regions?

BadDancer36 karma

There are a few places that are so screwed up at the moment that I can't see any way to dance in them without it being insensitive.

I hope someday I can visit Somalia, Sudan, and the Congo and not feel like I'm dancing on graves.

One might argue that I should have been just as concerned about dancing in Afghanistan or Gaza or Rwanda. I don't know what to say there. I just followed my best judgment and it told me some places were okay to include and some places were not.

Delber18 karma

Your videos always put a smile on my face.

So how much time travelling goes into producing each video?

BadDancer100 karma

Precisely 1.21 gigawatts.

supersonic99417 karma

Is it difficult o organize people into your videos?

BadDancer47 karma

It would be hard if I was trying to carry out a specific vision. That's part of why it takes so many people to make a movie. But I'm not really going for organized. I'm going for somewhat managed chaos. Chaos is easier and you don't need to work as hard.

jesterguy17 karma

On one of your previous videos you had a spot where you were on Guam. The location you picked was a pile of trashed cars in the background. I thought it was hilarious because I used to live there a few years back and when I saw that, I said to myself "hah, yeah that about sums it up". How did you choose that location as opposed to other Guam landmarks like....latte stones, for example?

BadDancer38 karma

I had visited once before and was stunned by all the garbage strewn across such an otherwise beautiful island.

Then I went back to give it another chance. We rented a car and saw as much of the island as we could, and there were just so many junked cars and mattresses and crushed beer cans everywhere.

It didn't occur to me at the time what a problem it is to deal with the accumulation of garbage on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific. I just felt pissed off at all the KFC's and strip malls and junk piles that were such a blight on the island. So I danced in front of some junk and I thought it was pretty funny.

But it was much more hurtful than funny. It was unfair and insensitive to the islanders and I regret it.

Lesson learned.

caboosemoose14 karma

Thanks, dude. Outside of actual knowledge growth or understanding of the universe, planet or species in a scientific sense, that 2008 video is the only real thing I feel like I've ever seen. Its brief encapsulation of the harmony of our species as an emotional event I don't think could be executed any better. Not to say either you or it are sublime. But it is outstanding. I hope you are very proud of it.

BadDancer16 karma

I'm very proud I made something that triggered that response.

Miltefar12 karma

Hey Matt, thanks for doing this AMA. Love the videos, the nice insight you bring on the countries you visit and, of course, the dance. :-)

You have been doing these video since a few years now. How long do you think you will be able to do these, since the concept stays the same? Once you visit all countries a couple of time, do you plan on making evolve the concept?

Thank you!

BadDancer46 karma

I'm hoping someone will work out either space or time travel and give me a call. That's my end game.

kolnidur11 karma

How the hell did you get on an aircraft carrier to do this? Let alone get a bunch of the guys to dance with you? Way cool!

BadDancer19 karma

They invited me to come out. I said yes. That's how most of the really amazing stuff happens. It's gotten to the point where I can be pretty lazy and just scan my inbox for cool opportunities.

The US Navy Public Relations pretty much arranged the whole thing.

The only thing I did was watch the flight deck crew giving directions to the pilots and realize we didn't need to come up with some random choreography. We could just string together a few of their gestures and it'd be just fine.