After losing his retail job, a Tennesee man decided to focus on things that made him happy, including acting and dance, and these days he's an Internet sensation. The lifelong cheerleader has gone viral for the second time with his dance moves, and he is sharing his extended 15 minutes of fame with young people he hopes to inspire through dance.
These days it can be hard to find something genuinely good on the Internet. As people are constantly inundated with mis- and disinformation, Twitter trolls, and all-around negativity, some find themselves having a problematic relationship with social media. But, from time to time, somebody will do something that's caught on video, and for whatever reason, a person trips the light fantastically, and a viral sensation is born.
Michael Galyean is proof-positive that these incredible things can happen to those who work on their passion and stumble into a bit of luck. He spoke with The Advocate on his 41st birthday, Valentine's Day — or as he calls it, "Galyeantines Day."
As a result of his dance moves, the blue-shirt guy went viral earlier this month during a Tennessee vs. Auburn basketball game.
ESPN posted video of the viral moment on its social media accounts Friday.
Security guy went off again 😂👏 @dancingblueshirtguy
Galyean first pretended to be a security guard when members of the dance team grabbed him and invited him to join their performance, which he briefly did. Then, he stopped dancing and called on a few friends he called the blue crew.
The music changes to a mix of the famous late 1990s hit "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65, and identically dressed blue-shirt guys join Galyean on the court to engage in a high-energy dance routine. The crowd erupts in cheers at the short routine's conclusion.
Galyean taught the dance routine to more than ten blue-shirt guys, some as young as eight years old, in one evening before the show.
"I've always called myself a storyteller and not a dancer, so I think that's what's always been attractive about dance to the queer community," he says.
"And so dance gives people a voice; it gives them an outlet to express themselves, and I think a dance studio or any performance area is just a safe space in general, no matter your body type, age, background, or sexuality," Galyean says. "We're here for one thing, and that's to make art."
He says that when the opportunity came to perform a second time, he thought he had to change things up and didn't want to do the same skit again. That's why he invited kids to share the spotlight.
"It gave me a chance to be the person I wish I had met when I was that age — when I was eight — wanting to be a dancer," he says. "And it was the least I could do because this world has shown me so much love in the past few months."
In October, the gay occasional television crime series actor, who loves to move his body to music, captured the hearts of college football fans. While at a football game against the University of Kentucky, he was invited to surprise the crowd by performing with the University of Tennessee dance team. The dance team's TikTok account posted a video of the moment that has been viewed more than 16 million times and liked more than 4 million times.
When a blue shirt won’t move out of the way #tennesseefootball #VOLS #blueshirt #blueshirtguy #danceteam
In it, Galyean is standing outside the endzone of a football stadium, dressed as a security guard wearing a blue polo shirt and khakis.
Behind him, a squad of dancers — all women — begins performing a routine to Rihanna's "Disturbia." The blue-shirt-clad security guard clumsily steps into the dancers' way and is confronted by several people who tell him he's in the way.
Michael Galyean performing alongside the University of Tennessee Dance Team.
Galyean, seemingly confused, backs further into the performance area, throws his arms into the air, and hits the routine steps in perfect unison with the rest of the dancers. The crowd loses its collective mind and begins cheering.
The routine continues for several more bars, wholly synchronized, and Galyean ends triumphantly surrounded by smiling dance team members as the stadium erupts in cheers.
Michael Galyean getting the crowd at a football game to cheer after he performed with the University of Tennessee Dance Team.
The video circulated online and became an international viral sensation.
The video skyrocketed on ESPN's social channels when Galyean realized that something life-changing might be afoot, he tells The Advocate.
"I didn't even have a TikTok at the time," he says. "And it went to 16 million views that day, and I thought, 'something's happening here. This feels weird."
Galyean continues, "And when ESPN posted it on their TikTok, I remember calling my sister, and she thought something terrible had happened, but I was just calling with a scream of pure excitement."
He says that he was overwhelmed by the reach the video had.
"I was told it was one of the top five videos of all time on ESPN.com," he says. "But then over here, it's on Southern Living, and then it's on like a dance account over here."
As a queer person who lives in Tennessee, Galyean recognizes that the state isn't the most LGBTQ+ friendly. This is why, he says, "it's funny because many people who recognize me are straight sports bros who will go out of their way to get my attention for a selfie."
Galyean, who grew up in Delaware, was a high school cheerleader interested in continuing the sport in college, but when he enrolled at UT, he said he didn't pursue it further.
"As far as my journey with Tennessee, I moved here in 2000 to attend UT to be a cheerleader, but I chickened out. I never tried out," Galyean says. "So this whole sideline situation has been a full circle story [for me]."
After school, he says he found a job and didn't look back at cheerleading but focused on dance. He says that except for one dance class in college, he's self-taught.
"So when I left UT, I made some friends, and we started a high school dance team right out of college," Galyean explains. "I coached that for nine or ten years, which got me a job at a dance studio."
He adds, "So again, I never had any training, but now the student becomes the teacher. And I learned how to dance by teaching it."
He says that his skillset has always lent itself to big-picture ideas, which is why choreography appeals to him.
Michael Galyean pretending to be a blue shirt-wearing security guard at a football game in October.
"I worked at a dance studio for a handful of years, and currently, I am the advisor and a professional choreographer with the UT Dance Company.
The UT Dance Company is a student-led organization on campus with the mission of keeping dance alive after the university cut dance instruction and education at UT, he says.
"So this was built to bring that back, and I've been a part of that since its beginning," Galyean explains.
He says that last year, he was asked to choreograph a high school musical production which was successful and opened the door to an opportunity to be the choreographer for a professional production of Footloose.
Michael Galyean is surrounded by the University of Tennessee Dance Team.
Galyean, active in the local television production community and regularly appears in true crime reenactments, is taking it all in stride. He has parlayed the attention into appearances around town, including hosting events and speaking on radio and local television.
Galyean is active on social media, creating videos that show the life of an internet celebrity, but he knows not to take himself too seriously. He does, however, have one goal for producers out there looking for talent.
"I don't have to be one thing, but I'd love a talk show. I think that is my outlet," Galyean says.
"Being in Tennessee, we don't have a lot of people like myself that are in the limelight for good reasons, sadly, especially with the new bills that they're passing left and right here. And so helping out my community, my fellow drag friends, my fellow trans friends, is important to me and this kind of exposure hopefuly helps," he adds.
Watch the full video of Michael Galyean's performance with the blue crew below.