Ever since the first “Where the Hell is Matt?” video came out years ago, people have wondered a) “How the hell do I get to be the international internet dancing ambassador of awesome” and b) “How long does it take to make a five minute video like that?”
The answers are a) You have to be Matt and b) a long damn time. In addition to the immense travel time, you also have to gather the locals together when they’re in the right mood, teach dozens of them at a time a silly dance and then try to get it on film. One of the photographers traveling with Matt released a series of photos to National Geographic aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of California, where Matt had to quickly invent a dance based on the movements of the flight deck controllers and then teach it to some very skeptical sailors.
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.
So that was an American aircraft carrier. But what about North Korea? That was obviously, a bit more difficult:
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.