A brush fire of sorts erupted yesterday when word spread on Twitter that Kevin Schroeder aka Dancing Kevin was prevented from dancing shirtless at Nationwide Arena on Sunday when the Blue Jackets hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins. But how could this be? They sell a freaking sandwich named after the guy inside the arena, amiright? The fact that the arena was filled to capacity thanks to a large cadre of visiting Penguins fans only added to the intrigue, and became the gas thrown on the fire. Did Nationwide security personnel cave in to Penguins fans and tell Dancing Kevin to put his shirt on?
The answer to that question is no, not really … well … sort of. I went straight to Kevin himself and asked him what went down. Here’s what he said:
I was asked to attend the game by a friend – (I don’t want to mention his name), but everyone knows him as one of “the refs” who sits behind the goal in section 120. I was very thankful and went to the game. Well, in the first couple of periods I got really pumped up, maybe it was being so close to the ice coupled with the way the boys were playing, that I let my excitement get the best of me and I took my shirt off and danced around and tried to get the fans into it to. But each time I did I put my shirt back on. A couple players from both teams smiled including the guy who got the hat trick, (I won’t mention his name either!) and the refs did to. Then the third period came along I started to walk down to my seat with my shirt off. That’s when the very fair and awesome usher Mike told me I had to keep my shirt on. He’s right I need to keep it on and he was doing his job. And I don’t want to make his job any tougher. I had no issue with that at all. I put my shirt on, told the people around me I was sorry and continued to watch the game. Then like five or six minutes later another person came down after Mike had already done his job, and did it well, to tell me I had to keep my shirt on. I thought the issue was over after I talked to Mike. I said “ok, I’m sorry I don’t want to create any problems.” Well this guy ticked off a bunch of people around me including my friend, who has had a few issues with them over the years I guess. Then it got a little heated between them and other people and then they sent down another guy to talk to my friend. I felt very bad about it. I don’t want to cause any problems to anyone. I just want to cheer on the team. I think if they never had sent the guy down after I had talked to Mike nothing would of happened at all. Mike had already done his job and got the message across.
I about crapped myself when I found out this all took place in my stomping grounds, section 120. The key protagonists are all familiar to me. “The Refs,” as they are commonly known, are institutions in section 120. Perched right behind the goal on the glass in their authentic black and white stripes, they are some of the most recognizable (and photographed) fans in the NHL. They are also good fans, and by that I mean they cheer loudly, bang on the glass loudly and hardly ever spill their beers. I have never seen them cause an ounce of trouble.
Mike, the usher in section 120, is also an institution at Nationwide. Mike and I go all the way back. I used to call him the “Seat Nazi” because the way he did his job reminded me of the “Soup Nazi” character from Seinfeld. Once, in year three or four, after Mike had already personally checked my ticket hundreds of times, and three times already on this particular night, I was heading to my seat with four drinks in a carrying crate, two hotdogs and box of popcorn. As I approached Mike, he put his hand up and said, “Can I see your ticket?” I lost it. Me and Mike had words. His supervisor came over and we had a brief but productive discussion about customer service. I never blamed Mike. Mike was just doing his job as he was trained to do. If you owned your own business and Mike was an employee of yours, you would try to clone him. Trust me on that. At any rate, ever since that incident, Mike and I have got on famously. He doesn’t check my ticket as often now. And, when the Blue Jackets score, getting a high five from Mike as he goes down the aisle with his hand up in the air is one of my favorite things about going to a game at Nationwide. Mike is a solid dude.
The whole incident that occurred Sunday night might have gone unnoticed but for a status update that Kevin made on his Facebook wall, in which he pointed out the irony of him getting “in trouble” for dancing with his shirt off. When some of Kevin’s adoring fans saw the update, they took the matter to Twitter and it didn’t take long before a groundswell of support to #DefendDancingKevin began to grow legs. The irony in Kevin’s status update was lost on his fans, or at least overshadowed by their assumption that Kevin had been prevented from doing one of his “official” dances, which are a) conducted in a more open area so that Kevin doesn’t violate anyone’s personal space with his art and b) shown on the Jumbotron. And conspiracy theorists were quick to point out that many Penguins fans were in attendance. Coincidence? But in this case, Kevin was seated down by the ice in a crowd and his shirtless dancing was apparently not viewed as being “official” by Nationwide. Kevin says he feels bad about it all and never wanted to cause any problems for his friend “the Ref”, Mike or any of the fans in attendance.
I didn’t mean to make such an uproar with my Facebook post. I just actually found it really amusing that I got in trouble (and I use trouble very loosely) for taking my shirt off . LOL! I think it’s being blown out of proportion. But in this new social media world that happens. I didn’t know that and all I’ve got to say is, “wow.” That is really amazing and I really appreciate the support. It is really something to know they’ve got my back. And I will always have their backs too. It’s very humbling.
Meanwhile, the #DefendDancingKevin contingency is trying to organize a show of support for him at an upcoming game (either January 10th or the 21st), by staging a Belly Out during which they will take off their shirts and dance en masse (pardon the pun). Who knows if that will really happen once the record is set straight as to what actually transpired on Sunday night. (I almost didn’t write this for fear that I might help to kill the idea.) I do know this: I’ll be going to the game if they pull it off. All the way off. And slam it to the ground. Just like Dancing Kevin.