O'BRIEN: A chance to relive the glory days at the mall

Posted: Apr. 1, 2013 2:59 pm Updated: Apr. 29, 2013 5:15 pm

The scene looked like it was a throwback to the 1980s, when going to the mall was the thing to do.

In the time before satellite television, cellphones and the Internet, the mall was the place to be. If you wanted to be in the scene, you'd cruise around the mall, grab an Orange Julius and check out who was there. You probably didn't buy anything while you were there, but you managed to burn a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.

Back then, malls were a popular place for musicians to perform. Tiffany and Debbie Gibson got their starts crooning at malls. Once they got popular, people would pack malls just to see them perform.

Fast forward to the Quincy Mall on Saturday. The place was packed with people, many of whom were there to see a show. Who knows how many of those people actually shopped or grabbed an Orange Julius, which is one of the most underrated drinks around?

They all came out to watch a guy dance.

Quincy's dancing man, Larry Toolate, had been told by mall authorities not to dance down their hallways any more. With the mall being private property, it's the property owner's right to say that. In issuing that edict, though, the mall kicked a hornet's nest.

Through the power of Facebook, a movement formed to right what many people saw as a wrong. Toolate's supporters thought he should be able to dance. They vowed to show up in droves around the noon hour on Saturday to show support for "The Dancing Man."

Hitting a "like" button on Facebook and actually showing up to do something are two different things. Who knew if people would actually show up? But show, they did. The place looked like it does before the doors swing open for Black Friday sales.

Toolate weaved his way through the crowd with a smile on his face, giving high-fives and enjoying the moment. People held their smartphones and cameras high above their heads to get footage of his stroll.

It was as if he was truly a rock star who had come to the Gem City to grace the crowd with his presence. I'm guessing only someone like Justin Timberlake or Justin Bieber could command the type of crowd that "The Dancing Man" pulled in.

No matter if you called what happened on Saturday a "flash mob," "protest," or a "rally," it looked like it was a success. "The Dancing Man" danced, some others joined in, and everyone had a grand old time. No one was arrested, and everyone left peacefully. It was a day that I'm sure many, including "The Dancing Man," may never forget.

It's interesting to see what gets people riled up. Something that has no bearing on anyone's life -- like a guy being asked to refrain from dancing on private property -- has people ready to organize.

Meanwhile, something that affects everyone who pays taxes in the city -- like the upcoming election -- barely registers with the masses. If past elections are any indication, no more than half of eligible voters will make their ways to the polls a week from today.

These people will deal with millions of tax dollars. Pretty important stuff, right? Candidate forums last month were well-attended, but it wasn't as if people were jostling for room and had to crane their necks just to get a glimpse of the candidates.

Maybe they should have had those forums at the mall and had the "The Dancing Man" do a little jig. That would have brought the people out.

At the very least, it would have given us another excuse to get an Orange Julius.





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