When he was mocked for dancing at a gig and then “fat shamed” by cyber bullies online, Sean O’Brien could never have imagined it would change his life for the better.
After spending the weekend dancing with celebrities after an outpouring of support which saw him flown to Los Angeles for a 1,000-strong party held in his honour, the Liverpudlian has most certainly had the last laugh.
Mr O’Brien, 46, said the situation that has seen him transformed into a minor celebrity in the US, had been “surreal”.
“It was daunting at first. I was a bit worried about how it happened but it’s turned into the most wonderful journey,” he told Good Morning Britain. “I’ve met some of the most wonderful people you can imagine. It’s been truly life changing.”
On Saturday, he appeared on NBC’s Today show and danced with pop star Meghan Trainor, before attending the party at the Avalon nightclub. Moby provided the music and he danced with celebrities including rocker Andrew WK and anti-bullying campaigner Monica Lewinski, known for her affair with president Bill Clinton. “Happy” singer Pharrell Williams sent a message of support via video.
Mr O’Brien said after the party: “A last massive thanks to all those who were there last night to help make it so memorable and everyone who has supported and followed for the last two months to help make it happen.”
In March, cyber bullies posted a photo of Mr O’Brien dancing at a gig in the UK, then another of him looking unhappy after being ridiculed. The anonymous troll who posted the picture wrote: “Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week. He stopped when he saw us laughing.”
What started with abuse soon changed to support around the world, especially in the US. Writer Cassandra Fairbanks, was among those who searched for the “Dancing Man” taking to Twitter to say: “There’s a huge group of ladies in LA who would like to do something special.”
The search went viral. After finding Mr O’Brien, who now lives in London, Ms Fairbanks got a group together to fly him to California for a series of events. On Sunday, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the baseball game between Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. He had Dancing Man on the back of his shirt.
Mr O’Brien said: “It’s completely surreal, I never thought it would happen in my life. It really is amazing.
“There are so many good people out there in the world. What happened to me appeared to touch a lot of nerves,” he told Today. “We raised some good money for charity and we’re just trying to help people to know there is support out there. There will always be bad in the world but there’s far more good people.”
The hosts of Today asked if he danced regularly, and he jokingly replied: “I dance a lot, but badly, very badly.” They then brought out Trainor who danced with him live on television.
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