Thousands of people came to see Janet Jackson in concert last week, but scores more were treated to an additional performance on social media — a Long Island dad dancing in the stands before the show.
John Lawless, of Centereach, was at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Wednesday night waiting for Janet Jackson to take the stage when the DJ started playing some Michael Jackson hits to warm up the crowd, Lawless said.
“When I go to concerts with my daughter or wife, they don’t really like to let me loose,” said Lawless, who turned 50 last Saturday. But Lawless was there with his son, an aspiring dancer, and when Jackson’s 1992 single, “Remember the Time,” came on, the father of three said he couldn’t help but get out of his seat.
He gyrated, he spun, he played the air guitar — all while someone in the crowd recorded his performance.
“It was spectacular,” Lawless’ son, Kevin Lawless, 21, said.
He was hoping his father would have made it onto the jumbotron, but was delighted to see all the attention he was getting on social media.
A video of the dance was uploaded to Instagram and then shared on Twitter where it has been liked more than 80,000 times.
Viewers were awed by Lawless’ slick moves and confidence.
“Look at how free he is? I love it,” one Twitter user wrote in response to the video.
Lawless said he had no clue he was being recorded and learned of the video’s popularity Sunday through a friend.
“I was just taken aback at how positive everybody’s comments were and thankful they appreciated my art,” he said.
Lawless said he’s been working on his Michael Jackson routine ever since he watched the King of Pop moonwalk for the first time on television in 1983 to “Billie Jean.” Over decades of working as a DJ on Long Island, Lawless would perform as Jackson at weddings and parties, and many of his clients would ask for him to dance at their events, Lawless said.
Lawless, a bulk mail technician for the U.S. Postal Service, went to see Janet Jackson again Sunday at the Prudential Center in Newark — this time with his wife, who forbade him from moonwalking.
“I had to be a little more subdued,” Lawless said, laughing.
Still, the retired DJ said he “couldn’t be more grateful” for his 15 minutes of fame and that the experience made turning 50 even more special.