Whether the sun is shining, setting, rising or the rain is pouring, “Byron Bay’s Dancing Man,” Tommy Franklin, can be found flamboyantly emulating the sounds amplifying from his head phones with unorthodox, passionate, gyrating movements, blissfully unconcerned with the judgments of the world.
Franklin became a YouTube semi-sensation because of his dancing-in-the-rain antics on Byron Bay’s main street in New South Wales Australia. In the video, a sudden rain storm takes pedestrians by surprise and while most run for cover under the umbrellas at The Beach Hotel, Franklin starts busting a move. One woman frantically runs toward the pub for shelter while he tries to get her to dance, to no avail. He’s not fazed, and continues dancing in the rain. In what is probably the most astute observation any one could make at the time, one of the onlookers proclaims: “this guy’s got life by the fuckin’ balls.”
It wasn’t always that way for Franklin. After years of heavy addiction to drugs and alcohol, his family “didn’t trust him” and his friends “didn’t want to know him.” Franklin hit rock bottom after being hit by a car; nearly costing him his life. After he recovered from the accident, Franklin slowly set to work crawling out from his pit of depression. He started by walk away from friends who were only interested in partying hard, understanding that if he didn’t, he would have ended up on the streets. Then he put on some head phones, started tapping his toes, and began changing his life one smile at a time.
Dancing in public might seem a strange healing mechanism. After all, Franklin does not look like the dancing type: he is a grizzly man sporting a thick, fiery-red beard and long, matted hair. But then again, he also has an affinity for formal wear and a pension for unapologetic dance moves. When he gets to moving, heads first turn with apprehension.
“People like to put up their walls, or they have fears about letting people know how they feel or about being vulnerable,” says Franklin. But people are increasingly drawn to him because of his knack to break down those walls and do whatever he feels. Although his unique dancing and positive outlook on life have only inspired the people of Byron Bay thus far, there is no telling where his contagious dancing will inspire next.
Finding joy in the simple things that life has to offer and appreciating that which we usually take for granted is hard. Many of us tend to get consumed in our daily routines and we forget to slow down and smell the roses. For Tommy Franklin, dancing is the self-expressive key to happiness and he hopes his actions can inspire others to find what makes them happy too. We can all learn a thing or two from Tommy Franklin: let loose, smile more often, find someone you trust, and don’t take life so seriously.