Dancingman504 is our Week 14 business, and we thought his story was worth sharing on our main blog. This post is the first in a new series of guest posts by “Local Leaders.”
Name: Darryl “Dancingman504” Young
Birthplace: Charity Hospital in New Orleans
What do you do?
Heal the world through dance. I am a New Orleans celebrity who teaches and performs 2nd Line dance as a way of bringing back the city and attracting the eye of the world.
How did you start dancing?
I started dancing in 2009 to start moving towards feeling better after the storm (Katrina). I noticed the musicians were coming back home to keep the musical traditions alive. Chefs came back home to keep the cultural cuisine alive, but no one was mentioning our rich history of dance. I remembered seeing people from around the world fascinated by how New Orleanians moved to the sounds of our diverse music. So much joy was no longer here after the storm. I decided to do my part to help rebuild. Gutting homes, landscaping yards, or reconstructing restaurants wasn’t what I felt was my way to give back to the city. One night, a band in the Apple Barrel bar on Frenchman St. started playing “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?”, and I did know, even while standing in New Orleans. Right then and there, the desire to heal us as a city and to bring back pride instead of sadness came to me through movement, which the people call dance. It was only a short time later that the people seeing me dance in New Orleans coined me Dancingman. When I added the 504, it all made sense.
Where have you performed?
I have performed in a variety of major festivals and at local clubs throughout the Southern United States. I’ve conducted 2nd Lines at weddings, jazz funerals, social events, and Mardi Gras parades. This past year was the first 2nd Line in a Mardi Gras parade which I led and am honored to be the Grand Marshal for life with the Krewe of Freret. I have starred in national and international commercials and have had the opportunity to perform and teach a unique dance and cultural curriculum to students here in New Orleans, within the United States, and internationally, such as Josephine Baker Elementary School in Paris, France. Some of the highlight performances have been at the HBO Ghost Room for South-by-Southwest with Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Las Vegas for Zappos New Orleans Bourbon St. Experience, NFL Experience and Game Day in New Orleans, and a Jazz Funeral for Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. I also had a cameo appearance in the Red Hot Chili Peppers video “Brendan’s Death Song” (extended version). In 2013, I was the first to make the Jazz Fest logo come alive, shot at Fox8 Studios. For the 5th Year Katrina Memorial, LA GOOD Magazine published a New Orleans issue in which I was the cover feature for being a vision of the New New Orleans*.
The First Quotable Quote from Darryl “Dancingman504” Young:
“Be Good, Be Safe, but Most of All Be You!”