‘What’s the story with the dancing man in The Junction?’, you asked. Here’s the answer.

Story and video by Linda Ball
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Swagger fun style is how dancer Hank Kershell describes his dance style. Perhaps you’ve caught his moves. He’s danced for up to 10 hours at a time, 19 Fridays in a row, at the Junction in front of Key Bank. Not only that, he danced every day at this year’s West Seattle Summer Fest, which he said “did him in.”

WSB readers have been asking if we had ever found out the story of “the dancing man,” so we talked with him last Friday.

At 47 years old, Hank says he has called 12 different cities home. Born in Sacramento, California, he’s lived in Lake Tahoe and Chicago at length, and was tired of shoveling snow. He decided Seattle looked good. “I’m kind of a free spirit,” he said.

He lives between Greenwood and Green Lake, but he said the people there were “stuffy and constipated” when it came to his art. He danced in the University District, but the college kids didn’t get it, he said. Even on Capitol Hill, he said, people weren’t open-minded. “I realized how hypocritical they are. Here in West Seattle, you can kind of be yourself,” he said.

Hank also dances on occasion in Ballard, and in Fremont by the “Waiting for the Interurban” statue. And he says he works full time for AAA at its call center, where he said he is one of their best employees.

If you look while he’s dancing, there’s no open guitar case or jar for donations, just his waterproof boom box. He’s dancing because he believes every day is a special occasion. He wants to see children get interested in dancing. He said, “All you have in life are experiences.”

What he would like is to find a sponsor, or a philanthropist to help him promote the art of dance. He said he learned to dance while waiting for the bus. First, he honed balance by steadily walking the curbs, and eventually developed his swagger: “It’s got to have swagger – my dance style is definitely about swagger.” His favorite band is Pearl Jam (whose lead singer Eddie Vedder, you likely know, is a West Seattleite), but he likes to mix it up. He will mix reggae, R&B, disco – he likes ’70s music.

When asked about his outfits – always wearing a white cap, white gloves, and bright patterned shirts – Hank said the cap keeps the sweat out of his eyes, and the white gloves make for a better visual experience. His patterned shirts, which he also wears to his “regular job,” are special-ordered.

But it’s his positive attitude, his spirit that really shines. He said no matter how many times he’s failed at something, he’s still here. “I just have an attitude that I’m going to get through it. Everything is a learning experience. I like to think I’m a better person than I was yesterday and I’ll be a better person tomorrow.”

Will this be his 20th consecutive Friday, dancing at The Junction? Take a look at the southwest corner of Walk All Ways and see for yourself.

58 Replies to "'What's the story with the dancing man in The Junction?', you asked. Here's the answer."

  • Steve August 11, 2017 (11:22 am)

    Love his spirit and enthusiasm towards life!

  • Patty Pelland August 11, 2017 (11:35 am)

    I talked to him the last time I called AAA and he is a great customer service representative.  And a wonderful dancer.  

  • KM August 11, 2017 (12:17 pm)

    He always makes my day better!

  • me on 28th Ave SW August 11, 2017 (12:31 pm)

    I visited with him waiting for the light to change on a Friday night a month of so ago.  Complimented him on his music choice.  Thought for a moment about breaking out some quick disco moves.  He makes me smile. 

  • thankyoudancingman August 11, 2017 (1:12 pm)

    Honestly, this man lifts my spirits every time I see him out there. I hope he knows that what he does is making a difference in the world. 

  • TheJunction August 11, 2017 (1:19 pm)

    Hank is a treasure! We made certain he knew ‘his’ corner would be open during Summer Fest. Say “hi” to him, he’s a dear and a welcome addition to the Junction!

    LS

  • Lox August 11, 2017 (1:24 pm)

    I smile so big every time I see him. His energy and attitude = GOALS! 

  • Emily August 11, 2017 (1:28 pm)

    LOVE!

  • dancingmanfan August 11, 2017 (1:36 pm)

    Thank you for doing this story. I love this guy’s exuberance. If he can keep this up through the winter — and in just those clothes — I will be even more impressed. 

  • Old Friend August 11, 2017 (2:09 pm)

    This guy is amazing !! Love his charisma!!  I want him to dance at my Birthday Paaaarty!  Keep on Rocking Hank!

    • Mr Swagger August 13, 2017 (11:09 am)

      I would be open to that, it depends what day it is

  • RebekahJ August 11, 2017 (2:13 pm)

    My daughter and I just had the pleasure of chatting and dancing with Hank last Friday in the junction! He definitely has a joyful and infectiously happy soul. Thanks for the weekly dose of smiles, Hank! We need as much of it as we can get!

  • RK August 11, 2017 (2:19 pm)

    Thought it was sweet to see him take a break from his dancing last week to help an older woman get safely across the street (the light had timed out, but she was still quite a ways from the curb). Not surprised he is one of AAA’s best employees!

  • seattlesunburn August 11, 2017 (2:40 pm)

    Let’s get the comment count up for heartwarming stories! Thanks, WSB, for taking the time to interview “dancing man in the Junction.” His positive outlook is inspiring! Yay for WS being an open-minded neighborhood.

  • Sara B August 11, 2017 (2:49 pm)

    I love this story, and this guy, even though I’ve not seen him yet.  I’ll keep my eyes open for him and his inspiring attitude.  Go West Seattle!  

  • E August 11, 2017 (2:51 pm)

    I’ve been curious what his story was. Thanks for researching and reporting WSB.

  • West Sea Neighbor August 11, 2017 (2:52 pm)

    I didn’t know what to think the first time I saw Hank out there, but after seeing him dancing for several weekends in a row, and seeing how much joy he exudes, I have to say that I’d feel bad to not see him there on a Friday now! Keep it up! Thank you for this story, I had wondered…

  • Jon Wright August 11, 2017 (2:56 pm)

    I wondered what the story behind this fellow was. Always a highlight when we see him in action. Thank you, Hank, for brightening up West Seattle!

  • Zoé Freeman August 11, 2017 (3:03 pm)

    So proud that he feels welcome on West Seattle.  I would certainly feel dizzy dancing like that.  What’s his secret? 

  • Jen Ament August 11, 2017 (3:08 pm)

    He is a joy to see out there and makes everyone happy!

  • Jenni August 11, 2017 (3:29 pm)

    We love Hank!!! He tells my kids to never be anyone other than themselves:)

  • WestSeattleK August 11, 2017 (3:46 pm)

    We love you Hank!

  • Leslie August 11, 2017 (3:50 pm)

    We love watching Hank dance! Always puts a smile on my face! ♡

  • Wsresident August 11, 2017 (4:06 pm)

    We love this guy. He always makes us smile (and giggle). Makes you feel like dancing!

  • Katy August 11, 2017 (4:23 pm)

    Thank you, Hank!  The world needs more dancers like you!

  • Sd August 11, 2017 (4:24 pm)

    Thanks so much for the story! I’ve been wondering for some time the background on the dancing man! He always makes me smile and I had a feeling given that I never saw him asking for money that he was doing this simply to spread joy… It’s working! So glad our neighborhood has welcomed him. We need more of this in the world today

    -s (a Alaska junction resident)

  • A August 11, 2017 (4:39 pm)

    With all the drug and mental health problems going on right now, I’ll admit when I first saw this guy I thought it was someone who was either on a drug induced journey or someone who needed to be sent in for a mental evaluation. Really glad to hear this positive story and that West Seattle is where he chooses to dance because we are accepting of him. Keep on dancing bud!

  • AKJunkScion August 11, 2017 (5:15 pm)

    Dude is beyond awesome for bringing such a simple and meaningful joy. The niece, nephew and I always get off the bus a few stops earlier than our regular stop just so they can “Hang with Hank” for 20 minutes or so. Although I believe they might be more motivated by the ice cream cone from Husky’s that usually follows. 

  • Carol August 11, 2017 (5:15 pm)

    Where can I get a sweater like that?

    • Mr Swagger August 12, 2017 (1:53 am)

      Yizzam just click on that < although the one I am wearing there is custom made, I saw the artwork and wanted to create my own, but I do have many of their own designs, I can always create it for you, but it’s a shirt not a sweater, although they do have hoodies & sweatshirts, as well as leggings, tank tops, short sleeve, long sleeve men’s, long sleeve women’s & kids. 

      • JanS August 14, 2017 (10:13 pm)

        Mr SWAGGER…it a GREAT sweater…love the design !

  • Tom V August 11, 2017 (5:16 pm)

    He is a good one.  Keep on dancing!

  • HC August 11, 2017 (5:26 pm)

    Can’t wait to see and meet Hank! Welcome to West Seattle! 

  • Jenny Mason August 11, 2017 (6:04 pm)

    I love this guy. I shared a bus ride with him once, and he also danced a little on the bus. Thanks for sharing his story. I’m glad these responses are positive, and that after trying several different spots, West Seattleites are welcoming and here you can “be yourself”.  Keep it up, please, Hank! 

  • Kirsten August 11, 2017 (6:14 pm)

    He makes me smile every time I see him rocking out on the corner. Hank – leave Greenwood/Green Lake and move down here so you can dance more than Fridays. West Seattle loves you!

  • Colette August 11, 2017 (6:18 pm)

    I have to confess I didn’t know if he was dancing for enjoyment or something else.  Today he was wearing a lime green shirt and I thought maybe he was one of those people who go around neighborhoods selling CenturyLink services (don’t fall for that BTW-they do not work for CL).  So glad to hear he does this purely out of entertainment–I’ll make sure I say hi to him next time I see him!

  • prayforrain August 11, 2017 (6:40 pm)

    Thanks for this story.  It’s great to have a guy like this in West Seattle.  He’s most welcome and a great addition.  

  • Mark Neuman August 11, 2017 (6:52 pm)

        Makes me think of …

       “I  knew a man Bojangles, and he’d dance for you

        In worn out shoes

        With silver hair, a ragged shirt

        And baggy pants, he’d do the old soft shoe

         He’d jump so high, jumped so high

         Then lightly touch down”

               – from “Mr. Bojangles”, lyrics by Jerry Jeff Walker

  • Laurel August 11, 2017 (7:03 pm)

    Ahhhhh- I love this so much! I’ve seen him on occasion and he never fails to lift my mood and make me smile. Thank you Hank!!!!

  • Aubra Taylor August 11, 2017 (7:26 pm)

    Really enjoy his dancing and vibe; glad he’s part of our free-spirited community ❤️

  • Gerard Connors August 11, 2017 (7:45 pm)

    Dancing Man impacted my life. Several weeks ago, I came home and found my girlfriend cheating. I was so mad I ran down to the junction. When I got to the junction, there in between my tears…I saw him busting the illest move. It changed my life. Thank you, Dancing Man. I know realize life is short and we must be flexible and live in the moment. It’s only been a week, but the three of us are settled in and working things out. 

    • A August 11, 2017 (9:42 pm)

      By 3 of us do you mean yourself, your girlfriend and the person she cheated on you with? Sorry I’m just a little confused by your comment

  • Graciano August 11, 2017 (9:14 pm)

    Ever thought about joining him, might help relive some stress.

  • WSGirl August 11, 2017 (9:30 pm)

    I love the dancing guy! He always makes me so happy. 

  • Nathan August 11, 2017 (9:44 pm)

    Saw dancing man doing the Roger Rabbit and the Running Man the other day. Brought a tear to my eye. 

    Thank you Dancing Man!

  • Ws August 11, 2017 (10:16 pm)

    Love this guy! Does anyone know the story of the homeless woman in the junction who is always reading? I’ve often waned to stop and talk with her. 

  • Hennypenny August 11, 2017 (10:30 pm)

    My daughter loves seeing him, she sees him with summer camp outings and always talks about him.  He is delightful, he is part of what makes WS special.

  • Mr Swagger August 12, 2017 (1:20 am)

    Hey everybody this is Hank, thank you so much for all the love, it’s pretty overwhelming. I just give unconditionally for the good feeling it gives me, but to then have it come back in such a flood of positivity is something I appreciate fully. I had so many more people come up and talk to me today because of this article, which I wish more people would do, I love meeting people, I would like to think that I am a much better person than I am a dancer, hopefully the people who are bold and courageous enough to talk to me can see that. Thanks for all the love

    • Jon Wright August 12, 2017 (10:02 am)

      That’s good to know, Hank. We have always been apprehensive about saying hello to you because it seemed like you were on a roll and we didn’t want to interrupt!

  • Gini Johnson August 12, 2017 (5:59 am)

    Thank you WS Blog. I have wondered and now I know. I love Hank’s dancing. We need more fun and swagger in our world. “Thanks Hank for brightening our days”

  • Morgana August 12, 2017 (9:23 am)

    Thanks to both Hank and WSB! To Hank for wanting to brighten people’s days, and clearly being a good and caring person. Yesterday, I saw him stop dancing to help bring people’s attention to a fire truck coming through the intersection. And to the WSB, as others have said, for sharing vital info both positive and negative. Y’all really help WS feel like a community.

  • Mr Swagger August 12, 2017 (7:06 pm)

    In all seriousness though I am looking for a massage business to sponsor me, not looking for money, 1-2 massages a week, likely on Friday and Saturday, and I will have a sign on the ground near my boom box which says “”_______” keeps me dancing” (I am willing to pay for the sign). I do get quite sore after dancing that long, so if anyone knows a massage business that would want to trade massages for advertising, let me know, it would be preferable if the business is in West Seattle, thanks.

  • Ed Schramm August 14, 2017 (6:38 am)

    To everyone  who posted here, “I was wondering what it was all about”…….all you had to do was ask him.

     

  • Mike August 14, 2017 (1:24 pm)

    Love him!

  • Mr Swagger August 14, 2017 (4:20 pm)

    I was extremely bloated that day, so it’s hard for me watching the video knowing I am usually at least 10 pounds less than that (and all that weight was in the mid section), but at least it gives me motivation to work out more and eat better. We are in our busy season at work and the overtime has made it tough to stay in the shape I would like to. Would like to take up yoga maybe, probably would help with the dancing too.

  • Adrienne J August 14, 2017 (7:03 pm)

    I love seeing him dance on Fridays when I am waiting for the C Line to get to work. It starts my day off on a happy note. He is awesome.

  • CSMB August 16, 2017 (2:33 pm)

    I’m one of Hank’s supervisor at AAA and he is an amazing asset! He comes to work with the same spirit of positivity, generosity and compassion every day. Since Hank started over a year ago, I have never seen him in any mood except happy. Thank you for all you do, Hank! 

  • Mr Swagger August 16, 2017 (4:21 pm)

    Thank You, I love working at AAA, such an awesome employer. Anyone who likes a phone job with good people skills would really enjoy working here. We have a full gym and locker room so you can workout before or after work, plus you get a unlimited Orca Card for free if you choose to use public transportation. We have a new hiring class starting 09.25.2017 click here to put in a application for member services rep Apply at AAA

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

WP-Backgrounds by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann