Every day, Michael Jukeson wakes up, blasts one stranger’s favorite song over his speakers, sets up a video camera, and begins to dance his heart out. He doesn’t know what moves he will make before he makes them, and most peculiar of all, he doesn’t know who he’s dancing for.
The Brooklyn-based 26 year-old DJ began #nomoresad, his own personal dance campaign, at the beginning of this year. At first a ploy to cheer up one single friend, his vision has broadened to just about everyone on the internet. His mission was simple: create homemade, custom mini dance videos for every single person who wrote to him telling him they were sad or were in need of a bit of a pick-me-up. It’s an ultimate pay-it-forward mission, a cause for the sake of spreading joy alone.
Sure, it sounds silly, but Jukeson’s medium is an apt one — in countless studies, dancing has proven to be a mental health boost and stress reliever. And when you watch Jukeson’s energetic improvised interpretative dancing, you can’t help but grin. His costuming is always outlandish — full of bright colors, spandex, and the odd prop. He opens up every video with the same line, dedicating the video to the person who requested it, telling them simply, “Don’t be sad.” Jukeson’s smile is infectious, his movements frenetic, and his purpose so unabashedly rose-tinted, it makes you too want to get up and dance. “The idea behind #nomoresad is to make people happy! I love to dance! I am a huge proponent of dance. I feel that I am giving a part of myself to each person I dance for, literally dancing my heart out for each request to show, in a way, that I do care and that I genuinely want them to be happy,” Jukeson tells Nerve.
Michael Jukeson, whose personal website is brilliantly set up like a Craigslist ad, has made 335 videos of himself dancing for strangers to date. The requests he gets range from the very serious to the funny, as people find their way to him through Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and a recent national TV appearance. “Most of the requests come from truly amazing people who are stuck in tough situations, relationships, or dealing with an illness, etc. and they just want a bit of relief,” Jukeson says. Song requests run the gamut: he’s danced to gregorian chants, motivational tapes (his all-time favorite), and, no surprise, Pharrell’s “Happy” quite a number of times.
Creating happiness for no reason might seem like a pathologically selfless move, but Michael says he gets a lot out of making the videos. When I asked him whether he thinks we live in a particularly sad moment in time (we are in the era of Prozacs, cuddle cafés, and America’s shockingly low ranking of #17 on the World Happiness Report), he told me not exactly, but that modernity has its limitations. “I think that we are living in an age of discontent. We have the world at our fingertips and nothing satisfies us anymore. People are always looking for the next best thing. The reality is that you already possess the best thing ever… it’s you!”
Jukeson, whose dream would be to dance with Ellen Degeneres, sees the type of care he gives to people as a small dose of therapy. “I think everyone should spend a little more time improving their quality of life, emotionally and physically. Invest in yourself, believe in yourself, and stay positive! Love everybody. No matter what. Including yourself.”
It’s clear Jukeson doesn’t take himself too seriously and doesn’t want you to either. The former breakdancer also organizes a weekly Brooklyn Work Out Party and is currently participating is currently on day 14 of a no-sitting challenge (his videos make us think he’s perfectly capable).
If you’re feeling down, having a rough week, or would simply like to see a gregarious and well-muscled man shake his booty to your favorite track, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet at him. “Making other people happy makes me happy,” Jukeson explains. And Jukeson is prepared to do just that, ready to hand the world 30-second DIY dance parties.