There is only one Belmont Dreads Bro. He is the heroic Belmont University student that put on a dance performance for the ages on ESPN during Belmont's upset loss to Eastern Kentucky in the Atlantic Sun conference final. The Notorious BDB's performance, and his dense mane of salami-thick dreads, marks him as a singular character. And yet there are also many Belmont Dreads Bros, waiting for their moment make their peace, stare into the unflinching red eye of the TV camera and GET IT while Ian Eagle or whoever break down the first half in the foreground. These Belmont Dreads Bros just haven't been on camera yet.
The good news is that the original Belmont Dreads Bro's identity is no longer a mystery. His name is Jordan Collins, he was born in South Africa, and his identity was revealed to me by multiple parties after I wrote about his initial performance. "I guess with dreads and an accent, it's hard to not stick out at a Christian school in the middle of Tennessee," Collins says. He is not a professional performer in any real sense, and certainly not any more experienced a dancer than anyone else who has ever doofed it up at a party. "Napoleon Dynamite has always been my inspiration," he says. "Kid President has some pretty sick moves, too, if you're all new-age YouTube-y."
Collins was, it turns out, not doing a single conscious thing besides being himself during his ESPN Moment.
Collins was kind enough to take time away from his education to answer some questions about his moment of immortality, and to offer his tips to the Belmont Dreads Bros -- whatever their gender, hairstyle, performance philosophy, or team loyalty -- who aspire to running-man a mile in his shoes later this March.
So, you were born in South Africa and attend a mid-major college basketball demi-powerhouse. What's your relationship to the program? I ask this because multiple people online identified you pretty quickly, which led me to believe that you might have some secret Jordan The Belmont Dancing Dude brand going on.
Yes, I was born and raised in South Africa. I moved to the U.S. to pursue the American College Dream. Ended up coming to Belmont because of its music program. Once I got started, I realized studying music was too much commitment, so now I only make music for fun, just like every other Belmont student. I definitely do not think I have a brand, but I guess with dreads and an accent, it's hard to not stick out at a Christian school in the middle of Tennessee. I've also done some ridiculous things in the past that have circulated the Belmont community.
Once I taught and organized some guys from my dorm to do the haka (New Zealand war dance) to support our woman's volleyball team against our rivals (evidently, we dominated that game), and then got on ESPN3 being ridiculous with my friends during a woman's basketball game. Which also ended as a victory for Belmont.
I guess the men's conference final was the natural next step towards the final goal of ESPN Top 10. That is everyone's goal, right? Or maybe "Ellen". I'm not picky.
Tell me a little bit about how you decided to get in there and do your thing. Was there any strategy behind this beyond "the camera is on, and I can probably just get out there and do my thing as long as these two dudes are talking"?
I was walking back with those guys at halftime, somewhat demoralized by the rough start that the Bruins had and a little bit put off by the awfully seductive and strange dancing by the EKU dance team. We saw the camera and knew it was our moment to show what real dancing looks like. Dancing will lift team spirits right? I've done the weird waving-at-the-camera thing before, so this time, I decided I just needed to let loose. No strategy, no time. The camera turned on RIGHT at the drop of the song which was perfect, so I just went with it. Totally lost all sense of shame or embarrassment and let the music take me away.
What goes through your mind when you're doing goofball dance moves live on ESPN? You were steadily Getting It for going on 30 seconds, which is actually kind of a long time to be working out that hard while maintaining eye contact with the camera. Do you even remember it, or were you just working on raw instinct at that point?
I was in another world. I don't really remember all of it. My eyes were closed for most of the time (only opened to center myself in the shot every once in a while), and had no clue I was alone until the end. They were done with their shot and I'm pretty sure I kept dancing for a sold five or ten seconds. My body was so in the zone that I had to pace around for a minute just to cool down. There was no acting in that 30 seconds. That was all real.
As I said, We had just seen the Eastern Kentucky dance team do a grossly provocative dance which, realizing there were children around, upset me quite a lot. I wanted to show that dancing doesn't have to be sexy, doesn't have to be provocative or perverted. I'm pretty sure at one point I was just doing the jump rope — it's a mix between the running man and pretending to jump rope. Nothing sexy there, just a crap-ton of fun and good exercise.
Obviously many young people will find themselves in similar positions over the next few weeks, during the NCAA Tournament. If you could give any advice to people looking to show out, dance-wise, in the background of a live shot, what would you recommend with regard to training regimen, preparation, overall approach to performance and so on?
Ah, good old March Madness, one of the only American Sports events that I have been able to truly fall in love with. Training? Dance more. Live a life that is worthy of breaking out into dance at random times. Then, when the camera is rolling, it's just second nature. Don't force it. Don't think about it. Don't wonder what people are thinking. Just close your eyes and dance as though you are alone on a stage set for Justin Timberlake. A good training technique is when you're driving along and a great song is playing, pull over to the nearest parking lot and dance. Dance around your car. People will look at you, but that's all part of the training. Ignore them, all that matters is you.