BEFORE THE 18 MILLION YouTube hits, before the Good Morning America appearances, before he visited a total of 80 countries, and before he chilled at Taco Bell in Lower Queen Anne to talk to Seattle Met, Matt Harding was a lot like you: living in Seattle, with a very Seattle job (as a contract video game developer writing the story line for the Lemony Snicket game). He blogged, he traveled, he blogged about traveling. In Hanoi, Vietnam, a friend videotaped him doing a little jig, a goofy dance he’d annoyed friends and family with since he was a kid. He did the jig in Russia and Mongolia. Then another country and another, until he had dance footage shot in 17 countries.
He posted the video on his blog. The two-minute, 45-second clip, titled “Where the Hell Is Matt?” was emailed from friend to friend to friend. As Harding describes it, he became “quasi famous as ‘That guy who dances on the Internet. No, not that guy. The other one. No, not him either. I’ll send you the link. It’s funny.’”
Harding caught the attention of execs at Stride gum, who offered to sponsor another globe trot. So he spent the next six months dancing in 39 countries on all seven continents. The video “Where the Hell Is Matt? (2006)” has had nearly 11 million downloads on YouTube.
In June 2008, Harding released yet another clip, this one covering 42 countries and incorporating locals doing the Harding boogie with him. As of August, the video, which ends with a raucous, limb-flailing crowd at Gas Works Park, has been viewed more than 8 million times.
Where the hell will Matt go next? Well—_crunch_—that’s an interesting question—_crunch, crunch_—for the Internet star, eating tacos a few blocks from Seattle Center. Aside from a trip later this year to deploy laptops to kids in Rwanda, he doesn’t want to go anywhere, he confesses. “The travel bug hasn’t come back yet.”