Der Lockdown stört ihn überhaupt nicht, ganz im Gegenteil: Er eröffnet ihm ungeahnte Möglichkeiten. Doch wie ergeht es ihm danach?
The music for the evening news programme was about to start. Rodney turned on his mobile-phone camera and, as the opening drums surged through his living room, he began his new dance routine. It was a masterpiece. Even in the middle, when the violins went tremolo to suggest the dangerous stories the newsreaders were going to tell, his performance was a triumph. As the final trumpets promised that everything would be all right by the end of the news, Rodney did a spin before bowing to the camera. He knew this video would add at least 20,000 subscribers to his Youtube channel.
Pink with exertion, Rodney sat at his computer and edited the video, singing cheerfully to himself as he added filters and adjusted the light.
“…the prime minister announced today…” went the news programme in the background. Rodney never listened, but he liked the newsreaders’ voices.
Rodney’s rise to fame had been unlikely. At the beginning of the pandemic, when everybody went into lockdown, Rodney wasn’t bothered.
He didn’t communicate with his family, and he didn’t have any friends. The company he worked for was happy for him to continue his IT job from home, and he could still order pizza and join his online gaming communities. Life continued for him upon its lonely path.
“…that with the success of the new vaccine programme…”
This changed one evening, when he accidentally left on his live-streaming camera to a gaming community as he started dancing to the introductory music for the evening news. Dancing to the music of TV shows was something he often did for fun, but this time, one of the gamers recorded the scene and posted it on Youtube. Social media went wild.
“…the rates of virus transmission have fallen dramatically…”
At first, Rodney was angry, but as people began to search for “News Dancer”, as they called him, he felt flattered. A week after the first video was shared, he recorded and posted the second News Dancer video himself. The success was huge, especially after some celebrities
Rodney blossomed in the love that poured in from around the world
reshared his post. Of course, a few trolls posted some cruel fat-shaming comments — Rodney was heavy — but most posts were from people begging him to continue. “You’re the only thing that keeps me going,” said one. “Your dancing saved my marriage,” said another.
“This evening, a press conference has been called…” Very quickly, he was contacted by potential sponsors. Would he wear these sweatpants? Would he recommend that pizza chain? Would he lead an online dance workshop? But Rodney didn’t answer. He didn’t do it for money.
“…and we’re now going live to Number 10 to join the press conference with the prime minister…”
He’d always loved dancing, but although he was good, his size meant that he was never taken seriously by dance schools.
“My friends, we have faced this cruel virus together and, thanks to your efforts and the excellent work of our world-beating National Health Service, we have beaten it…”
But now, with everybody stuck at home, he could show his dance moves and find an audience. Rodney blossomed in the love that poured in from around the world.
“Unfortunately, many of us have lost loved ones to this disease, taken from us before their time. But our sacrifice has not been for nothing…”
Rodney finished the text of his post and, with a final click, sent his video around the world. Tired but happy, he looked up at the news. The prime minister was still talking. What now?
“We have always followed the science, and science now tells us that it is safe to end our lockdown…”
He froze as the words and their meaning hit him: “…and all shops, bars, pubs, restaurants, dance studios, hairdressers and stadiums can open again. This is my message to you: reward yourself and celebrate our freedom!”
Rodney worried all night. In the morning, when he checked across all the platforms, his worst fears were realized. His masterpiece had sunk unnoticed into the hole where most videos, posts, tweets and stories end up.
For a while, he hoped a virus mutation would send everyone diving for cover again, but none appeared. His old life had few attractions any more. He missed the News Dancer creative process and the dopamine kick as the likes and comments poured in. Rodney was lonelier than ever.
It was on a Saturday that he noticed a flyer in a supermarket. A local dance school announced registration dates for new classes starting on Monday. All weekend, Rodney turned the idea over and over in his mind. Was there any point?
The lobby of the school was full of the usual danceschool types, dressed in leg warmers, waiting to register. Rodney felt huge and wanted to disappear. They wouldn’t want him; he was an embarrassment. He was about to go when one of the staff members came over and asked Rodney to follow him. Ah, that’s the game, he thought. They’ll take me to a private office and tell me to leave.
Inside, a tiny, fierce-looking woman of about 70 was sitting behind a desk.
“Ah,” she said. “You’re News Dancer, aren’t you?” Rodney nodded. Come on, he thought. Get it over with.
“Why didn’t you answer me?” she asked.
“I asked you to teach an online dance course.”
“That was you?”
“Yes. You’re good, and I want a class for my plus-size students. No good having some skinny little ballet teacher in it; no one would join. What about it?” “Well… yes. Of course!”
“Good. But it can’t just be teaching people to dance to the news intros, you know. Have you got anything else?”
Rodney felt a burst of happiness. “Well, yes,” he said. “Do you know the intro music to Friends?”
His masterpiece had sunk unnoticed into the hole where most videos, posts, tweets and stories end up