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An Ode to Daniel

(The 178th Street Dancing Guy)

By Tess Owen

I have lived in the West End of Edmonton all my life. In the last seven years or so a regular presence has made the brutal winters and Klein induced redneckery of our particular corner of Alberta all the more bearable. This young fellow has spent the majority of his young adult life spastically dancing and kicking out the jam (sometimes on bicycle, sometimes with air guitar, always with headphones) on specific corners of busy streets off the Whitemud freeway and around West Edmonton Mall, and now he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves. Recently on the ever-present, a couple of local West Enders created the “178th Street Dancing Guy Fanclub.” Since May 11, more than 1500 people have signed on, most of them never actually meeting the guy in person. His personality has become such a hot topic in the last week that the local media has become riveted to this permanent fixture on the sidewalks near my corner of town. Radio interviews, newspaper snippets and even a City TV news story has graced the local media stage. “Who is he? How did he get his cast? And most importantly, WTF IS HE LISTENING TO?”

Well, I know his name. His name is Daniel. A few years ago I was working relief care at group homes, and I was called over to the Callingwood neighbourhood in the West End. Sure enough, it was his place, and honestly from talking to him you would never know that he had a disability or that he was the wacky funster that entertains the drivers on their commutes home. Daniel and I walked around for a bit, watched TV back at his place and did normal things.

But he’s not a normal guy. He’s an inspiration to us all. Dancing like nobody’s watching. If you ever make it out to Edmonton, search out this local celebrity. He’s the real thing.

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