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Follow Your Dream, Day #365: Reawakening

Today marks one year of the Follow Your Dream production journal series. That calls for something special, don't you think?

How about a never-before-seen video of Lord of the Dance from 1998?

If you go online, there's practically no fan footage of the original Lord of the Dance journey, for a very simple reason: in-venue photography was strictly prevented back then. Technically it still is today, but we're in the age of the smart phone, where everyone has an HD camcorder in their pocket. Back in the late nineties, smart phones were still almost a decade away from being invented, so it was much easier to enforce.

The other thing that was about a decade away from being invented was social media. There simply was no Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or anything else to instantly share information as we do today.

The end result is that a certain mystique has built up around the legendary original journey from 1996 to 1998, simply because so little of it has ever been *seen.* Here was this group of kids who went on a mad crusade around the world in the biggest act on the planet, outselling U2 and the Rolling Stones, performing at the Oscars, selling out Wembley for 21 nights in a row (a record which still stands to this day), and unless you saw it live, all you've got to look at are two commercial video releases (and their making-of specials) along with a small handful of various press snippets that have made their way onto YouTube in recent years.

That's it.

That's *literally* it.

Lord of the Dance. Ya had to be there, man!

The one online resource back then where you could get a lot of information was the Visitors' Book (or VB) on the official Lord of the Dance website. For a time -- and again, this was nearly a decade before social media was invented -- we're reasonably certain it was the largest online community in the world. Fans from all over the globe could share their show reports, and they built their own community. (If you've watched the "Gold" video, there's a section specifically devoted to the VB.) Some of the hardcore fans even compiled VHS recordings of press interviews and physically mailed tapes to each other.

Which, by the way, is exactly how this video made it to your screen. A fan recorded this in 1998. It made it to another fan, who added it to a compilation VHS tape. That tape was mailed, 22 years ago, to a third fan on the other side of the planet. And today, we have the most astonishing full-circle moment on the one-year anniversary of Follow Your Dream: the VB is posting this bootleg performance footage to official LOTD social media.

If this sounds like the most bizarre, counter-intuitive social media marketing strategy, keep in mind: THAT'S THE POINT.

Lord of the Dance isn't banal, sanitized, corporate-approved, art-by-committee marketing where everything is airbrushed to perfection. Lord of the Dance wears its heart on its sleeve, reaching for the stars, shouting pure joy at your eyeballs. It's *authentic.* And that outrageous authenticity is its strength.

Lord of the Dance is a joyride, and everyone's invited to join.

That's what we're rebuilding here today. That's what we've *been* rebuilding for literally the last year. There's been a great reawakening in the fanbase -- we see it in the numbers across all our social media platforms, especially in recent weeks when the Dance For Hope videos reached an insane number of people -- and there's an intuitive sense that we're building up to something big.

You're right.

Next year, 2021, is the 25th anniversary of this billion-dollar dance show. Who knows what that might mean?

Right now, we'll just say this: get ready. There's a reason why we've been so driven on spotlighting the current troupe. You're going to want that emotional connection to them, just like your emotional connection to the 1996 OG troupe, for what's coming.

Look at this video. It's grainy, It's standard-definition. The set is threadbare. It's handheld shaky camera footage, all from one angle.

And you can't stop watching it, can you. There's a *magic* there. And that magic is real.

Follow Your Dream, year one; done.

Follow Your Dream, year two: go.

#FollowYourDream

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